Facebook = Social Heaven OR Career Suicide

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Facebook = Social Heaven OR Career Suicide

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After seeing one of the most successful young executives in my network inform the world via a FB wall update that he was parting ways with current (now ex) employer, I decided to help my other friends avoid a similar potential social networking/career suicide.

Aside from my own personal views on privacy let’s get down to some cold hard facts:
 

  1. Under human-rights legislation, employees DO NOT have the right to confidential use the Internet and e-mail facilities at work. So unless you want the geek in the IT department knowing about your weekend escapades don’t FB at work.
  2. Given Google, Yahoo, MySpace, Twitter and other caches, there is a 99.9% danger that anything you put online will never truly die... so don’t post something today that you might regret tomorrow.
  3. One of Facebook’s competitive advantages is its OPEN source code, which in plain English means OPEN doors for applications and developers to get access to personal data, user profiles and other personal information that can now be searchable through Google and Bing. Consequently, your private information is not that private anymore.


Now, I bet you are all scared and questions regarding your privacy at work are overloading your brain’s hard drive. Thus, I went ahead and researched more facts about your relationship with your employer regarding your social network privacy. 


Here is a little Q&A for you:

Can my boss stop me from using Facebook or discipline me for using social networking sites during work time? The answer is YES.

Can my boss tell me to close my personal Facebook account? If you are behaving in a way that might be detrimental to the company’s brand image – (s)he surely can.

Can my employer monitor what I’m writing on Facebook while I’m at work?  Absolutely (see fact #1 above)!

Can an employer refuse to hire me because of my Facebook profile? Legally no…but how you are going to prove that (s)he is or is not basing the decision upon information they sourced from your profile?

How should my employer approach issues of personal conduct on social networks?  Improper posting/ language can count as gross misconduct, and even justify dismissal.

Should I accept a Facebook friend request from my boss?  This is a $1 Million Dollar question that I will let you decide based on your relationship.

So how does this tie into personal branding strategy online?

I love FB - I think is a great tool to connect with friends- but I want you to open your mind to the fact that YOU have a professional BRAND and you should treat Facebook and any other social network tools as if they were the front page of The New York Times. Now ask yourself; if you were Coca-Cola, what kind of information would you post on the front page of a newspaper?

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How to turn SPAM into Positive ROI

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How to turn SPAM into Positive ROI

Some call it newsletters, e-mail marketing, direct onlinemarketing, but we all know it as SPAM, the necessary evil for every wannabe 21st century marketer. So for those of us wanting to get clients to read mass emails, here are 10 tips to transform that SPAM into a positive ROI marketing tool:

1- DON’T TRY to mass communicate via your personal email client (outlook, hotmail, gmail, etc.), not even if you are sending to a small list. For technical (IT) reasons this just won’t work! Instead, hire an E-mail marketing firm (ConstantContact, iContact, MailChimp, etc.), which is the only way your emails will hit inboxes.

2- Grow your list organically! Ask for emails at every brand touch-point. Collect emails by adding a “join our mailing” button on every page of your website and on your Facebook, MySpace and Twitter pages, plus guest books on physical touch-points also help.

3- Focus on repeat customers! Focus your attention on building a premium list of high frequency customers. People who bought from you are more likely to buy again and read your spam!

4- Include an UNSUBSCRIBE button on every communication. You don’t want irrelevant names on your list that will drive up your cost of conversion; the name of the game here is "Less is More!"

5- Add a “JOIN OUR LIST” and a “FORWARD TO A FRIEND” buttons on all your on-line communications, including your corporate emails.

6- Create a SING-UP page or widget, make the process as simple as possible – request only necessary information. Most relevant data-mining and segmentation can be done with name, age, sex, zip code. Don’t forget to set up a nice auto-response welcome letter. I strongly suggest you attach a discount coupon to the welcome letter if you are in the retail/service industry.

7- Several email clients and Smartphones restrict images (blocked content). Therefore, aside from having a plain text version of your email make sure to include in the e-mail’s html code a brief description of the art/image you are attaching in your communication, i.e. product name & price.

8- What is the best time to send mass e-mail? According to several Internet researches, the best open rates can be achieved if communication is send mid-week (Tuesday-Thursday) around lunchtime. Given the different US time zones, try 10am-3pm.

9- Subject Lines will make or break your campaign! To avoid being picked up by spam filters, don’t use more than 30-40 characters or 5-8 words, NO CAPS, no spelling errors, avoid the words “free” and “guaranteed” at all costs, and never include $, %, !!! or ? signs.

10- Given that is harder to read text on a monitor than off a magazine page, the content of your e-mail marketing communication needs to be on average 50% less than its printed version. Article summaries with a “read more” link can do wonders for your click-through-rates (CTR).


Hope this helps, and feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

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Berry Vs. Apple

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Berry Vs. Apple

I finally managed to write another blog entry!

Recently, I moved from a Crackberry (a really addictive device) to an Iphone 3GS. Now I am back to a Blackberry Storm 2, a hybrid of a berry and an apple. After reading countless blogs and watching mind numbing Youtube videos comparing the different phones, I decided to contribute with my own perspective as a social network marketer. 

As I run several social media marketing programs in my daily routine, I was looking for a phone that would let me Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Youtube simultaneously and on-the-go! I found that for web browsing, there is nothing better than the Iphone. The Iphone’s multi-touch capabilities including “pinch-&-zoom” anything from a webpage to a photo makes a huge difference. Now if your drug of choice is a crackberry, you can enhance your browsing experience by downloading the Opera Mini 5 (beta) mobile browser at www.opera.com.

However, there is more to Social Networking on-the-go than web browsing, there is E-MAILING! Considering that you can store literally thousands of emails on the Blackberry as opposed to only 200 on the Iphone, if you need to find that 2 month old email from your CEO- the RIM technology will save your job.

As for screen definition, the Iphone beats any Blackberry. As for a camera picture quality, the flash feature of the blackberry allows you to take pictures at night and post them to you FB, Flicker, MySpace and alikes.

Given that APPS for all the major social networking sites are available on both platforms, like for like, I prefer my crackberry. Just personal/e-mailing preference! Let me know what you prefer?

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5 Simple Twitter Branding Strategies

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5 Simple Twitter Branding Strategies

Here goes not 100, not 10, but 5 simple ways to BEEF-UP your Twitter Branding Strategy.

 

1- A good way to push your message to friends of friends is to RT (retweet)! Just ask your network of friends to forward your original message in the following form: RT@originalsender: blablabla (original message).

 

2- Save characters when posting a URL/link. You want to focus your tweet into engaging your network to click on the suggested link rather then wasting the 140 characters with a long URL. Check out http://tinyurl.com to shrink your URLs/links.

 

3- Check out the insights available at www.tweettercounter.com, benchmark the top tweeters tweeting strategies. Aside from finding many useful APIs, you will notice that Britney Spears disturbingly has more followers than CNN or Obama.

 

4- Use #HASHTAGS to push your message to audiences interested in a specific subject (keyword). Example: If you believe your new software is better than that of Bill Gates, tweet the following: “This software kills #microsoftoffice.” Now people looking for Microsoft Office related tweets can easily find you and potentially follow you.

 

5- Search on www.search.twitter.com for tweets with keywords related to your brand (including your brand name) and get involved in the conversation. Also track and say bye-bye to the people who stop following you, with http://useqwitter.com.

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The Parallel World of ComicCon 09

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The Parallel World of ComicCon 09

I finally have had the time to write about my eye-opening experience last week at the world famous COMIC-CON in San Diego.

Knowing people that know people, I managed to get a ticket to this "sold-out" 4 days event. Being the Internet geek that I am, I followed updates before the event from the top 3 independent Comic-Con fans on Twitter; ComicCon (3,949 followers), ComicConLive (2,811 followers) and ComicCon09 (1,330 followers).

For those of you who missed the opportunity of mingling with 300lbs Supermen, 62-year-old Wolverines, Trekkies wearing pointy ears and Star Wars aficionados of all ages and sizes, I suggest viewing one of the 10,600 plus related videos tagged "ComicCon 2009" on Youtube.

After taking more than 2 hours to circle the 1st floor of this massive event, I came to the conclusion that the Web is increasingly empowering people to escape their daily lives and meet other suburban super heroes, monsters, and fairies in parallel worlds that mimic the 20th Century popularity of comic books.

Examples of this phenomenon are World of War Craft, with 11.5M+ subscribers and Facebook's Vampire Wars, which has 2.7M+ active users.

So, are we going to end up paying mortgage on a house inside Second Life? Will my wizard avatar end up with more friends than myself? Regardless, brands, content developers and publishers have the potential to make real money from these "make-believe" parallel worlds where a computer meets a comic book!

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Red Bull's Bull Market

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Red Bull's Bull Market

I have to admit that I am a little biased in favor of the twin fighting bulls. Nevertheless, Red Bull is an impressive brand that deserves to be followed by all "wanna-be" marketing gurus.

In 2008, Red Bull GmbH earned more than US$4.6 billion worldwide, experiencing 7.9% growth and eating, or shall I say drinking, 40.8% of the US energy drink market.

With its US$900 million worldwide marketing budget, Red Bull continues to push its core brand identity by sponsoring outdoor, extreme, adventure and motor sports. But the fighting bulls never rest and are now expanding not only into the mainstream NFL, NBA, MLS and NASCAR leagues, but also into new beverage categories such as colas and energy shots.

On the web, Red Bull has never been so popular. Its Facebook page has 1,122,830 fans and features several extreme sport videos, all in line with the brands image and identity. Check this one...  

In comparison, Monster Energy drink, which is the runner up in the US market, has a 276,526 Facebook fan base and a page that needs improvement. Rockstar, the bronze medalist, has a comparatively slim 33,185 fan base.

So, should we include social network fan base in Wall Street's next company valuation manual? Should we ask Facebook and Myspace where to invest our next paycheck? One thing is for sure; if you plan to build an 360 degree online presence for your brand ...benchmark RED BULL!

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Did M.J.’s death melt the Internet?

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Did M.J.’s death melt the Internet?

In the brave new world of the Internet the breaking news of the death of the “King of POP” can travel faster on Twitter and on Facebook than on news power houses such as CNN, FOX, BBC or MTV.

According to family members Michael Jackson passed away at 1:07 pm PST. According to my research fans of the moon walker pop star started Tweeting about his death as early as 1:25 PST and Facebooking at 2:01 PST. Counter intuitively, The New York Times only confirmed his way to Never Never Land at 3:41 followed by MTV at 4:01 and CNN at 4:31.

In a time frame of less than 3 hours the search on Google “Michael Jackson Dead” resumed more than 33,000 results...WOW.

Is the Internet finally empowering each one of us with “real time” information? Is Ted Turner’s empire slower than Joe the “Twitter geek” from Boise, Idaho?

How does this translates into e-branding?

Well, that makes me think that in the Internet era any corporate mischievous marketing move or insider C-level information can leak faster than you could say “Beep-Beep!”

So for marketers out there I suggest the Youtube test:
If you wouldn’t broadcast your marketing strategy on Youtube then maybe you shouldn't do so at all!

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What is E-Branding?

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What is E-Branding?

According to wikipedidia.org E-BRANDING = 

"No article title matches" or "No page with that title exists"

So I decided that, after an overpriced marketing education and some work experience in the Internet Marketing realm, I should be capable of contributing somehow to the WWW. (world wide wait) knowledge base.

I have also to confess that this serves an answer to all my friends that repetitively ask me: "What does an e-branding consultant does?"

So here it goes:
E-Branding: The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol, design and or consumer experience ONLINE that not only differentiates but also illustrates the product/service's image and identity.
Easier said than done!

A few years ago, e-branding marketing programs revolved around building a brand's website that served as another touch-point for consumers to know more about a specific product/service.

However, with the never ending wave of innovative electronic off-springs such as Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Technorati, Reddit, Youtube, Yahoo answers, iPhone Applications, etc., etc., the new thing to do is to build a 360 degree approach to your online presence.

So in a nutshell:

If your business can't affort an e-branding strategist make sure that your brand is at least present on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Myspace and collect as many e-mails addresses as possible!

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