Online Biz

Archive for November 2011

Why should companies use content marketing? Risk mitigation, lead generation, lead nurturing and lead scoring are some of the benefits today’s companies are reaping from their content marketing efforts.

How are companies using it? Some of the most popular ways, by percentage of companies, are non-blogging social media (79%), article posting (78%), in-person events (62%), e-newsletters (61%), case studies (55%), blogs (51%), white papers (43%) and webinars/webcasts (42%).

Are content marketing budgets growing? Most definitely, with 51% increasing spending over the next 12 months, 45% maintaining their current level of spending, and only 2% planning to decreasing content marketing spending.

For more facts and statistics, have a look at the the graphic below:

Is Content Marketing Traditional Advertising’s New Rival? [Infographic]

Provided by http://www.marketo.com

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If you want to participate in the kickoff of the holiday shopping season without feeling too much like a market-driven drone, check Small Business Saturday with the help of these social networking tools.

Between Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the unending onslaught of online deals, there is another holiday shopping day that might get lost in the shuffle: Small Business Saturday. This year marks the second annual such event, a new tradition that tries to steal some addition from chain retailers and big e-commerce sites and give it to local vendors.

And this year, the fledging ritual is getting some serious attention from social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, and Google have all pledge their efforts in support, offering and encouraging small business owners to use their sites’ tools to promote shopping this weekend.

Local retailers aren’t the only ones who stand to benefit this weekend. What happens to consumers who want the discounts but sans the chain names (that are sometimes attached to controversy) they go hand in hand with? Small business Saturday can fill that void along with the help of some geo-social applications.

Foursquare

amex-foursquareFoursquare has been at the top of the social-meets-location game since it began, and Small Business Saturday will be no exception. If you have an American Express card, sync it to your Foursquare account following these directions. Then when you check-in to shops who have partnered with the service via Foursquare on Saturday, you will see a button that says “load to card.” Then when you spend at least $25 or more at the participating store, you’ll get a notification saying $25 was credited to your Amex account. American Express is a sponsor of Small Business Saturday, so ratcheting up sales is in its best interest, but turns out they’re willing to compensate you for helping make the event a success.

 

etsy_iconEtsy

The purveyor of all things handcrafted is a natural fit for small business Saturday—and will appeal to those who want to buy “local” without leaving their living rooms. Just searching “Small Business Saturday” on the site brought up a slew of items that will be on sale this weekend, andthis blog catalogued some of the best e-shops on the site that offered discounts last year.

 

 

thedealmixDaily deal sites

While the likes of LivingSocial and Groupon tend to offer food and spa deals, the occasional local retailer pops up. Between now and Small Business Saturday, a minimal amount of homework and creating an account with one (or all) of these sites could save you some Monday. We’d advise getting with something likeThe Dealmix, which collects a large variety of all these local deals. Keep an eye out on any of these applications for vendor or shop deals in your area. Then make a call or check Facebook to see if they are participating in Small Business Saturday. Then add those savings to whatever discount the daily deal site was offering. Of course, you should check that you can use coupons during the Saturday sale.

 

 

 

Facebook

Facebook is offering a slew of tools for small businesses to take advantage of, but the site is also catering to consumers. Check out the Small Business Saturday Facebook page and you’ll have access to a variety of information, including city guides for optimizing your local shopping in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, as well as organized events in cities nationwide. Some of them include raffles, free gift wrapping, Santa visits for the kids, and community breakfasts.

 

 

 

 

smallbiz twitterTwitter

Be sure to follow your favorite local business on Twitter, if you haven’t already. We’re sure a great many of these sites will have implemented a Follow button (one of the tools in the Small Business Saturday kid), and will be using the hashtags #ShopSmall, #ShopSmallNov26, #SmallBizSaturday and #SmallBusinessSaturday to spread word of their discounts this weekend.

How-to-get-Macs-and-PCs-to-play-nice-together

Macs and PCs may work differently, but they can coexist together. Learn how to comfortably straddle the gap between both operating systems with these simple tips.

Microsoft and Apple have always been competitors on some level, and as a result, their fans often contain a bit of that old competitive spirit. It’s not uncommon for Mac buyers to become overnight loyalists, but Windows has an entrenched fanboy battalion as well.

Given the situation, it’s almost unnatural to think that – *gasp* – someone might own both a Windows PC and a Mac. Can you imagine the nerve? In the same household! Yet it does occur. In fact, I myself own a Windows PC as well as a MacBook, and so far one hasn’t killed the other (or me) while I slept.

With that said, getting the two to play nice can take some time. File, software, and hardware compatibility issues are not as bad as they were a decade ago, but they do exist. Fortunately, there are ways to overcome them.

Conquering old-fashioned file compatibility problems

There was once a time when trying to move a file between a PC and a Mac was a real hassle. Software on each end was wildly different, so files saved on a Mac often could not be opened in Windows without some form of conversion. Error-Cartoon

Today, this problem has lessened. However, the two operating systems continue to use different file systems. Windows relies on NTFS, while OS X uses HFS Plus.

This has no impact on actual file compatibility. A Word document written on a Mac using HFS Plus can be opened on an NTFS file system Windows PC. The problem is the method of file transfer. Macs can read files on an NTFS drive, but can’t write to an NTFS drive, while Windows can neither read nor write to HFS Plus drives. If you normally use physical media to transfer files, this could be a stumbling block.

What’s the solution? Get FAT…32. This file system, which was used by Windows back in the Windows 95/98 era, is read/write compatible with both Windows and Mac OS X. Thumb drives and external hard drives formatted with FAT32 will be compatible with both systems. Problem solved right?

Software compatibility continues to disappoint

Software is still a compatibility sticking point between Macs and PCs. It is still up to a developer to code for either operating system.

Microsoft’s debut of Office for the Mac was the only major software compatibility change to recently take place (and even this occurred years ago), but it was important. Basic productivity tasks are now much easier to complete if you own both platforms because you’ll have a set of familiar and compatible programs available on both.

Windows-7-and-Mac-OS

However, it’s almost universally true that you must purchase the Windows and Mac versions individually, which can be a pain to your pocketbook. One notable exception is Steam for Mac. This gaming platform provides gamers with both a Windows and Mac copy of a video game (if the Mac version is available) when they purchase a title.

Syncing files between systems

File sync software is a blessing if you own multiple computers, but for those who own both PCs and Macs, software compatibility issues are a roadblock. Sync software often only supports one platform or the other.

Surprisingly, one of the easier solutions comes from Microsoft. The company offers a program called Windows Live Mesh that can be used to sync files between systems, and it has both a PC and Mac version. I’ve personally used this and found it works well – and it’s completely free, no matter how much data you need to sync.

Another option is, well, any service that’s based in the cloud. Dropbox is the most common example, but there are tons of similar offerings. However, you usually need to pay once your storage needs go beyond a certain point because the files are stored in the cloud, not on your computers.

BlackBerry-Bold-9790-Curve-9380

A crowd of over 1,000 people mobbed an Indonesian mall for a chance to buy a half priced BlackBerry 9790. Over 90 people passed out in the mob, and at least three people suffered broken bones.

If you thought local Black Friday deals were good, you need to go to Indonesia. A crowd of over 1,000 people formed outside an Indonesian mall on Friday for a sale on the newly released BlackBerry 9790, pictured on the left above. The phone that retails for around $520 was available at half price.

Customers had been in line since 4 pm the day before waiting for the sale to start. Rumors started spreading throughout the massive crowd that there wasn’t enough phones for everyone in line so they started to get a little rowdy. The crowd pushed through a barricade which caused at least 90 people to pass out and three people to suffer broken bones. It took 200 police officers and security guards to restore order to the mob.  Three people were rushed to the hospital for treatment to their injuries.

While it might be a little surprising for us here in the U.S. but BlackBerry is by far the most popular phone maker in Indonesia. Four of the top five selling phones are made by BlackBerry. Combine the insane popularity of the device with a half off discount on a recently released device and this sort of situation is predictable.

Local police said that BlackBerry officials will be questioned for failure to provide a safe environment for the sale. The police were not informed by BlackBerry prior to the event, and say that if they were they would have been able to control the situation.

After the initial mob was dispersed phones went back on sale for a short time until ultimately the sale was shut down prematurely.  There is no word as of right now if other retailers will attempt a similar promotion, but Indonesians should be able to buy the 9790 at any of their local BlackBerry retailers starting tomorrow.

With the advent of social media channels, customer service has forever changed. Consumers are no longer willing to sit and listen to classical music on hold. In today’s age of hyper-responsiveness, customers expect instant responses from support reps on very public online platforms.

Instead of shying away from social media, smart businesses will leverage their social channels to spread a positive brand reputation, to connect happy customers and to step up their customer support efforts.

Consumers aren’t eager to blast negative messages about your company – unless your brand is unresponsive. I recently learned at an IBM conference that customers are five times more likely to post something positive than negative, and that companies usually have at least 10 warnings before someone posts a negative comment.

Happy customers who get their issues resolved tell an average of four to six people about their positive experiences, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs. It pays to treat your customers well, not only for the repeat business, but also to gain the positive word-of-mouth consumers now broadcast across social media. Satisfied customers can become your most influential brand ambassadors. They’ll help to answer customer service questions posted online and also tout their own positive experiences with your business.

Here are the five best ways to turn customers into brand ambassadors through customer service.

 


1. Be Fast


When a customer turns to social media for a support issue, he expects a brand to generate the fastest response possible. According to a recent UK study, 25% of social media users expect a response within one hour, and 6% expect a response within 10 minutes. If you allow a support issue to dangle for too long, you risk being perceived as a company that either doesn’t know the answer or doesn’t care enough to reply promptly.

Remember, most people on social networks aren’t itching to post negative comments. They only do so after a bad experience. Therefore, don’t give them enough time to have a bad experience.

 


2. Be Visible


Private and direct messaging on Facebook and Twitter is all well and good, but when it comes to customer service, it’s best to be totally transparent and visible. The answer you give to one customer could, in turn, help thousands more. Think of each post and interaction as a resource that future customers can reference. Not to mention, customers will be more apt to direct friends to your page with their own questions.

Social media sites foster an online community around your brand. Watch how customers discuss and respond to your products so you can join the conversation and better understand the community that supports your brand.

 


3. Be Consistent


It’s vital that you ensure all customer support answers remain consistent across the web and across all social channels. If a common question is posted on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn, then each response should communicate the same solution. Conflicting answers create confused, unhappy customers. Just as people expect consistent experiences with your products, they also expect consistent service across all of your channels. Brand accuracy drives confidence and credibility, and helps build brand loyalty among your customers.

 


4. Be Organized


If consistency creates brand ambassadors, then being organized is equally paramount. Admittedly, the cross-company integration and management of social media continues to be challenging. Maintaining a successful social media presence on just one network is a full-time job. Trying to do it over multiple networks is impossible if your support staff isn’t properly organized.

Customers can spot disorganization a mile away, especially online. However, if you demonstrate that your company support knows what it’s doing, you’ll earn the respect and trust of brand loyalists. Organization goes beyond knowing who does what on the support team; it’s also vital that everyone on the team is on the same page. Each team member must know where to seek reliable answers, and each must source information from the same place.

 


5. Be Human


As cool as Siri is, she still hasn’t crossed from digital assistant to human entity. Until then, your social media customer support should remain as human as possible. On the bright side, social networks already take the formalities out of conversation. It’s one of their biggest draws.

Therefore, a customer’s name isn’t “Inquiry #83kd4z.” She’s Christie from Denver. People respond best when they feel like they’re talking to other people. Your customer support should make customers feel as if they’re posting a normal question on a friend’s wall. Creating that kind of relationship with your customer should be the priority of any company.

Using customer service to create brand ambassadors isn’t the Herculean task it once was. Social media is presenting countless opportunities to turn your company’s support system into an open, interactive community, where customers can share their positive experiences with one another and spread the good word about your products and services – all on your behalf.

 

Provided by Duke Chung

The intellectual property battle rages on between Apple and Samsung. In April 2011, Apple filed for patent infringement, claiming that Samsung copied its iPhone and iPad designs. Courts all over the world have taken on this battle. Europe and Australia, for instance, have ordered preliminary injunctions barring Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 from shelves — just in time for the holiday season.

 

Provided by Stephanie Buck

Debate is still raging about how many people are really using Google+ and whether it can ever overtake Facebook. But at least one prominent user was making active use of the site Wednesday: President Barack Obama.

Obama’s profile, which just gained a “verified account” tick mark, appears to have been launched first thing Wednesday morning. Naturally, it isn’t being run by the President himself, but by his reelection campaign — a fact that the profile’s posts makes no attempt to hide.

“Welcome to the Obama 2012 Google+ page,” reads the first Presidential post. “We’re still kicking the tires and figuring this out, so let us know what you’d like to see here and your ideas for how we can use this space to help you stay connected to the campaign.”

One one hand, Obama’s arrival is an important stamp of approval for the nascent social network. Obama has been active on Twitter and Facebook since he was a U.S. Senator running for the highest office in the land; his social media savvy is often credited with boosting his first presidential campaign, helping to recruit an army of young campaign workers and small donors. The President held a Town Hall with Twitter in June, and another at Facebook in April.

On the other hand, the relative lack of fanfare surrounding Obama’s arrival may indicate just how far Google+ has to go. His first post was arguably the most historic thing to happen on Google+ this week; more than 12 hours later, it boasts just 110 shares. (For comparison, one of our more popular Facebook stories this week has been shared more than 3,000 times in a day.)

Since that first announcement, Obama’s campaign has posted twice more Wednesday — once to tout the President’s tax credits for unemployed veterans, and once to push a campaign contest where winners get to have dinner with Obama. It has posted nine scrapbook photos, and no videos.

We’re looking forward to the President’s first Google+ hangout, which may supplant the meeting of Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Llama as the most historic hangout in Google+’s young life.

 

Provided by Chris Taylor