Archive for March, 2013

The Pros and Cons of Using Klout and Kred for Hiring.

Some business owners use tools like Klout and Kred to measure a person’s online influence before hiring him or her. Some people argue these tools can help gauge a candidate’s abilities and social media influence. Others, meanwhile, doubt the ability of an algorithm to comb through social-media data and assign people scores that accurately reflect their abilities.

Take, for instance, what happened to Sam Fiorella. A story in Wired magazine detailed how Fiorella interviewed for a vice president position at a marketing agency but was passed over — despite his 15 years of professional experience — for someone who had a higher score on Klout. He spent the next six months improving his score and the number of job offers started rolling in. But realizing that he was being judged solely on an arbitrary number, he opted out of Klout altogether.

“The idea of measuring social influence and reputation through a single recognizable data point is extremely alluring to brands who want to source online influence,” says Leslie Gaines-Ross, chief reputation strategist for public relations firm Weber Shandwick. “To truly understand reputation, however, you need to look at the composite of online and offline influence, perceptions and cues. Klout and Kred scores are one step in understanding social and reputational influence but we have not yet arrived at the perfect solution just yet.”

Here’s a closer look at Klout and Kred and the pros and cons of using them for hiring:

Klout
How it works: Your Klout score is a number between 1 and 100 that quantifies your sphere of influence in the social media world. Klout says its algorithm arrives at the number by examining more than 400 data points on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, including the quality of your followers and how they share your information with their network. Klout is free and you can sign up as an individual or a brand.

Pros: Klout can be a fine tool to start with if you’re looking to hire an expert or an influencer to promote your business online. The site has more than 100 million profile pages and the score is used by other online tools such as Hootsuite and Bing to show most influential followers and relevant search results. Profiles are clear and easy to read, and you can see who is on top of any topic by clicking the topic link on your profile page.

In addition, Klout has created a new tool called Klout for Business, which includes a set of analytics designed to help owners quickly gauge their social media effectiveness. Expected to launch in the next few weeks, the tool enables users to see at a glance which of their social networks is getting the most buzz, who the influencers are on each network and the topics that are important to followers.

Cons: A keyword search returns a list of accounts with that word in the name or description, not the most influential people in that category.

The site’s algorithm places too much emphasis on having powerful connections — no matter how the connection was made or how engaged the person is with the individual. Therefore, what does a Klout score really mean?

Kred
How it works: Kred differentiates itself by offering what Klout lacks — a clearer explanation of the influence score. Kred awards points when another person interacts with your content. The more influential the connection, the higher the points.

Pros: In addition to the influence score, Kred also displays an outreach score. A high number here means the person frequently engages with the work of others by sharing, replying or following new accounts. If you’re looking for someone who knows how to engage over social media, these are the people most likely to help.

Looking at your own influence, you should find many more data points on the Kred dashboard, including a count of social media mentions, a 30-day follower graph and a list of the communities you influence.

Cons: Kred offers so many data points the dashboard can be overwhelming. It offers a solid overview of a person’s social media influence, but might not be as helpful if you’re looking to network with a leader in your field as the Top Influencer reports aren’t always completely accurate. For example, a test search for the top influencers in the field of “Publishing” returned Snooki from MTV’s Jersey Shore and Zak Bagans from the TV show Ghost Adventures.

 

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10 Questions to Ask When Creating Your Company’s YouTube Channel

A YouTube channel can put your business in front of today’s largest online viewing audience. Some 800 million people worldwide visit YouTube every month, many of them to research and discover products and services before investing in them.

If your company can reach even a fraction of that audience with your own branded YouTube video channel, the time and effort to create one can pay off, says Michael Miller, author of YouTube for Business: Online Video Marketing For Any Business (Que Publishing, 2nd edition, 2011). “YouTube is an incredibly effective tool for attracting new customers and even more effective for serving existing customers.”

Here are 10 key questions to ask when creating your company’s YouTube channel:

1. What do I want to achieve with my YouTube channel?
Choose a well-defined goal for your YouTube channel before uploading videos, suggests Lane Shackleton, product manager for YouTube. “Having a clear vision of what you are building the channel for helps clarify not only the type of video content you’ll provide, but also exactly what you hope to gain from providing it,” he says. For example, do you want to showcase new products, drive sales, boost traffic to your website, engage current and future customers or simply tell your brand story?

RevZilla.com, a Philadelphia-based motorcycle apparel, parts and accessories online retailer, designed its YouTube channel to answer common customer questions about sizes and fit for many of its products. Most of Revzilla’s 2,000-plus YouTube videos show staff members trying on jackets and helmets and discussing which sizes best match their body types.

2. Do I need to create multiple channels?
If your company sells distinctly different products and services, you might consider rolling out several YouTube channels tailored to each one. For example, Procter & Gamble has its own YouTube channel, as well as channels for many of its brands, including Gillette, Pampers and Tide.

3. How do I customize my channel background?
When designing your YouTube channel, Shackleton recommends mirroring your company’s existing online look, including the color schemes and logos on your website. You can choose a background color for your channel and then upload your background image.

4. Should I upload commercials about my products and services?
People come to YouTube to be entertained, educated and informed, not to watch commercials, Miller says. “The idea is to put helpful, informative videos on YouTube that enhance your company’s image without being overly promotional,” he says.

For example, BBQGuys.com, a Baton Rouge, La.-based site that sells grills and outdoor cooking accessories, offers cooking tutorial videos on its YouTube channel. The videos teach people how to barbeque meals quickly, while driving viewers’ back to the BBQ Guys’ online store.

5. How should I describe and tag my videos?
Video descriptions should be concise — no more than a couple of short sentences. Shackleton suggests including the URL to your company’s website or online store in the first sentence of the video description to try to encourage visits.

Also use keyword search terms in your video descriptions. For example, if your company produces red velvet cupcakes and you’re posting a behind-the-scenes video showing how they’re made, add keyword tags like “cupcakes,” “red velvet,” “frosting” “gourmet” and “baking.” That way, cupcake lovers can easily find it via search engines and YouTube search.

6. How should I organize my video content?
Instead of presenting your videos in a single long list, group them into playlists by topic or theme. With a little navigation, viewers can more easily find videos that interest them.

7. Should I produce my own videos and how often should I post them?
The decision to shoot your own videos or hire a production company depends on how much time and money you’re willing to invest. If your resources are limited, Shackleton suggests simply shooting videos with your smartphone or an HD video camera. Over time, as your profits and marketing budget increase, you can invest in better recording equipment, lighting and perhaps even a studio.

Upload new videos as often as your schedule and budget allow. “If you post a new, interesting video every week, then people will eventually start showing up automatically for you,” Shackleton says. “You’ll build a repeat audience.”

8. Should I allow comments on my videos?
Allowing people to comment on your videos should encourage them to share their experiences with your brand and show that you’re open to feedback. You can automatically display comments, display them only after you’ve approved them or keep them hidden. If you enable comments, you still have the option to delete any that are inappropriate or spammy.

Anthony Bucci, co-founder of RevZilla.com, says the comments section is “where we directly interact with and engage our community,” helping to keep it active and growing. It’s important, he adds, to respond in the most helpful and authentic way possible.

9. How should I promote my channel?
Every time you upload a new video, share a direct link to it across all of your business’s social media networks. You can embed your YouTube videos and playlists in your business’s website or blog.

You can also try to build an audience for your videos with Google Adwords for video, which lets you create and manage video promotions on YouTube and elsewhere online. Google Adwords campaigns are cost-per-view (CPV). To set a CPV bid, you enter the highest price you want to pay. For example, if you think it’s worth 25 cents for someone to watch your video, set that amount as your maximum CPV. Then you pay only when people watch your video.

10. How can I measure my channel’s success?
YouTube offers a free, self-service viewership analytics and reporting tool called YouTube Analytics. It tells you how many people watch your videos, how often, and how they discovered your videos.

YouTube Analytics also shows you how many subscribers you have, as well as how many likes, dislikes, comments and shares each video has received. Tracking which videos are most popular, along with the precise moment people stop watching them, can help you learn which types of content resonate with your viewers.

 

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How to Create a Successful Twitter Contest

The goal of most Twitter contests is to increase the number of targeted followers. Targeted followers help spread the word about your products and services for free. When a third party spreads positive comments about your products or services, it gives your company credibility and helps sell your products.

You also want to collect contestants’ contact information so you can nurture new leads and eventually turn them into customers. You collect their contact information by enticing them to fill out a web form on your website or blog.

There are several ways to attract targeted followers during your Twitter campaign:

1. Have a clear goal for your contest.
What are you trying to achieve with your Twitter contest? Are you trying to generate new leads? Are you generating traffic for a new website or blog? Are you announcing a new product and want to generate a buzz? You need to have a clear goal and outcome for your Twitter contest or you’ll be disappointed with your results. The clearer your goal is, the better your results will be.

2. Choose prizes carefully.
This is where people make some of their biggest mistakes when they conduct a contest. Your prize should match the goal for your contest. If you’re trying to generate more targeted followers, offering a large cash prize isn’t the right prize. Offering a $1,000 prize will attract a lot of new followers, but they may not be targeted. In fact, many of your new followers will be participating in the contest just to win the $1,000, not to support your company.

If you’re trying to attract landscape artists as followers, for instance, you could offer an autographed book of landscape pictures or artist accessories as your prize. This would be a more effective way to attract targeted followers than offering a large cash prize.

When you create a plan for your Twitter contest, it needs to do two things:

Encourage people in your niche to participate
Discourage people who aren’t in your niche from participating

This may seem obvious, but it’s imperative that you design your contest properly and choose appropriate prizes so you attract the right people. Choosing the right prizes that appeal to your targeted Twitter audience will make your contest more successful.

A great way to generate buzz with your Twitter contest is to cooperate it with one of your partner companies. Your company could be the primary in the Twitter contest, and you could offer a prize donated by your partner company. This approach will grow your Twitter followers while providing publicity and exposure for your partner company, a win-win scenario for all.

You’ll benefit most from your contest if you focus on your sponsor more than on your company. Make them the center of attention in your promotional campaigns and link to their blog and website as much as possible. Go out of your way in your contest promotions to thank them for donating the valuable prize. Rave about the value of the prize and how great it would be to win. When the sponsor sees how supportive you are, they’ll become more enthusiastic about the contest and promote it like crazy to their customers and prospects. The more they promote the contest, the more followers you get who in turn could become new customers for you.
3. Track your campaigns.
This is an obvious step in running a successful Twitter contest, but I’m always surprised by the number of people who don’t track their results. It’s important to use appropriate tools to measure your contest. If the objectives of your contest are to increase followers, increase ReTweets, and generate leads, you need a tool that can measure these statistics. You may have to use more than one tool to measure your results. In this example, you could use a tool like HootSuite or HubSpot to measure the increase in the number of followers and ReTweets. To measure the leads generated by your contest, you could set up a new campaign in an email autoresponder program like Aweber or Constant Contact to capture your new leads.

When your contest ends, reach out to the winners on Twitter and via email as soon as possible. Once they respond, I let the Twitterverse know who won. It’s important to wait until they respond to confirm that they’re a real person and not a Twitterbot. It would be embarrassing if the winner of your contest was a Twitterbot and you announced it to the world — that could have a negative effect on your credibility.

I usually give the winner a few days to respond before I choose another winner. If you wait too long to announce the winner, your contest will lose momentum and people may be reluctant to participate in future contests. Make it very clear in the contest rules that the winner must respond in a certain timeframe or another winner will be selected. This helps avoid any confusion and negative publicity if the original winner is slow to respond to you.

Once you confirm the winner, it’s time to celebrate! Announce the winner publicly on Twitter, and on the contest’s web page, your blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, and your other social communities. You can even send out a press release announcing the winner of your contest. Make a big deal about announcing the winner. The more publicity you generate, the more popular your future contests will be.

When your contest is complete, take time to review its results. Did you meet your goals? What worked and what didn’t? What could you do better in your next contest? It’s important to review your contest in detail so you can make your next one even better.

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Why Google Plans to Shut Down Reader

Google Reader, the popular service that lets users subscribe to and receive a digest of content from their favorite websites, blogs and other publishers, is shutting down. While many agree the service’s sharing tools made it ahead of its time when it launched in 2005, the rise of sophisticated social networks and the decline in popularity of RSS has led Google to pull the plug on Reader. The service will go dark permanently on July 1.

In response, social news website Digg has announced that it is building a reader to replace Google’s. Apparently the Digg team had already been planning to build a reader this year, but has decided to move it to the top of their priority list following Google’s announcement. Digg is soliciting input from the crowd as to what features they would like the new reader to have. “Don’t get us wrong: we don’t expect this to be a trivial undertaking. But we’re confident we can cook up a worthy successor,” Digg announced in a blog post. — CNET and Digg Blog

Facebook reveals a new timeline with cleaner layout.
Facebook is rolling out a new timeline for users, and not only does it have a more streamlined look, but it’s also customizable. In the new layout, the lefthand column contains a user’s photos, app activity, personal information and friends. The hierarchy of content in this column can be rearranged according to the user’s wishes. “We’re trying to honor the content, and just step out of the way and let the content speak for itself,” a Facebook representative told AllFacebook about the redesign. “With the improvements to timeline, it definitely now has a cleaner layout.” — AllFacebook

Twitter plans to launch a music discovery app.
Last week we reported that YouTube is creating a service to compete with Spotify, Pandora and others in the streaming music arena. Now comes the news that Twitter plans to launch a standalone music discovery app of its own called Twitter Music. It could be out as soon as this month. You’ll be able to find popular songs, get personalized recommendations, discover music through people you follow on Twitter, stream songs and even follow your favorite artists on Twitter directly from the Twitter Music interface. — CNET

Facebook: your next recruiting tool?
According to a new study released by Facebook, your best shot at landing a job lies with your close friends. After going through internal Facebook data pertaining to nearly 250,000 users, as well as a smaller number of survey responses, the researchers found that users who chatted mostly with close friends and family had a 33.2 percent probability of landing a new job, while users who chatted with acquaintances instead — so-called “weak ties” — had only a 6.5 percent chance of doing the same. Given this, it may be a good idea for companies to encourage employees to promote job openings on their social feeds to attract new talent. — The Daily Beast

Drug dealer snitches on himself with YouTube amateur rap video.
In Alabama, an alleged drug dealer with outstanding warrants was apprehended by police this week thanks to a YouTube video he made that showed him using and selling illegal substances. When will criminals learn not to incriminate themselves via the internet? “I’m not saying what he did would retire the ‘Stupid’ trophy, but he is definitely in the conversation,” says Randy Christian, chief deputy of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. — AL.com

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3 Tips for Maximizing YouTube’s New Layout for Brand Channels Read more

YouTube has released its new channel layout, YouTube One Channel. The updates give brands the opportunity to personalize and organize their page in ways that are very different from previous user capabilities.

Here are three tips for handling the new changes and optimizing the new options available:

1. Create a welcome video.
The new YouTube One Channel enables businesses to upload a welcome video geared toward viewers who don’t subscribe to the page. When making the welcome video, keep in mind that viewers don’t enjoy advertisements and tend to engage more with videos that have a personal element. Also, try to keep the videos short, between roughly 30 seconds and a minute, although if your content is compelling enough, you can certainly exceed that limit.

Here are some welcome video ideas in action from several large brands.

Impromptu or “man-on-the-street” interviews. For example, Intel’s “Mobile World Congress 2013: Out and About”:

2. Personalize your channel.
The new YouTube One Channel is easier to personalize in some ways and more difficult to personalize in others. For instance, personalized backgrounds have been removed but there is now the option to add a large header image called “Channel Art.” This is a way for companies to present a well-branded page that is clean and does not detract from the videos.

The Channel Art will also serve as a background for the brand’s logo and social media buttons. This is great for brands looking to drive traffic from their YouTube page to their other social media environments because the buttons are displayed in a format that viewers are guaranteed to notice.
3. Organize your content.
YouTube also enables users to re-organize their content. Businesses can optimize this feature by categorizing their videos and organizing them into playlists. By organizing videos into playlists businesses are making it easy for viewers to find a collection of videos on a topic of their interest and helping to increase the amount of time users spend on the business’ YouTube channel.

Companies without the resources to develop multiple new videos will also be able to use this new feature to highlight their older videos. This is a great way to keep a YouTube page looking fresh and updated even if there is a long period between video uploads.

 

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10 Tips for Using Twitter Like a Pro Read more

Today is Twitter’s birthday. It’s been seven years since the popular social network was first launched.

In honor of the milestone, we’ve compiled this list of tips for how entrepreneurs can get the most out of Twitter for their businesses:

1. Ensure your Twitter account reflects your brand.
Believe it or not, some companies don’t take full advantage of Twitter for branding purposes. When setting up your account, create a handle that’s related to your brand name and use your company logo as your Twitter picture.

2. Keep photo size in mind.
When choosing images for your profile, be mindful of the type of image you’re selecting and the size it will appear. Profile pictures, for instance, are small: 81 x 81 pixels. Your header image should measure 520 x 260 pixels.

3. Go beyond general, impersonal marketing messages.
Of course you want to use Twitter to spread the word about your products and services. But if that’s all you share, and if you share them frequently, you can bore your customers and turn them away. In addition to your marketing, sprinkle in unique, personalized messages that engage consumers one-on-one, as well as links to interesting, useful articles online.

4. Don’t ignore customer service.
An increasing number of your customers are most likely taking to Twitter to voice their satisfaction — and potentially their problems — with your products and services. Don’t ignore these messages. Monitor Twitter for mentions of your brand and respond quickly to any questions or concerns. You might also consider creating a secondary account specifically for customer service.
5. Use hashtags wisely.
You can use hashtags — a word or series of characters preceded by the # symbol — to categorize messages and can make it easier for other Twitter users to search for tweets. But remember that you can’t control what your followers and others on Twitter will say using hashtags you’ve created. Some of those comments could be negative or otherwise used in ways you didn’t intend.
6. Play nice.
You might be tempted to talk politics on Twitter. Or bash your competition or voice personal opinions about sensitive topics. But if you wouldn’t say these things in front of clients, it’s probably best to keep them off your branded social media accounts. On Twitter, adopt a tone that reflects your company’s image and keep your personal opinions to yourself.
7. Try creating a Twitter contest.
Help spread the word about your products and services for free. When a third party spreads positive comments about your products or services, it gives your company credibility and helps sell your products.
8. Track analytics to develop more effective marketing campaigns.
Although Twitter doesn’t really offer an internal analytics program for standard users, tools such as Tweriod and Followerwonk can allow users to track things like the geographic distribution of followers and the hours your followers are most active. Understanding this type of information can help you plan more effective marketing campaign and schedules.
9. Clean up your account.
On Twitter, one of your primary goals should be to interact with followers. Consider unfollowing low-quality accounts including spammers and people who don’t follow you back. FriendorFollow is a popular service that makes it easy to see and disconnect from any non-followers.
10. Change your password regularly.
You don’t want your branded Twitter account falling into the hands of hackers. Change your passwords frequently, and consider using random numbers, letters and symbols that aren’t necessarily related to your brand.

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Building Your Brand on Twitter

In his book Ultimate Guide to Twitter for Business, online marketing expert Ted Prodromou offers an easy-to-understand guide to using Twitter that will help small-business owners generate leads and connect with customers. In this edited excerpt, the author offers a few tips for building a consistent brand on Twitter that will help inspire customer loyalty.

Twitter is a great tool to build your brand and spread the word about your business. Here are six tips for building your brand on Twitter.

1. Use your brand name as your Twitter name.
This seems obvious, but I see many companies not using their brand name as their Twitter name. They use a cute Twitter name that isn’t related to their brand name.

 

2. Use your logo as your Twitter picture.
Again, this sounds very obvious, but some companies don’t use their logo for some reason.

3. Send Tweets that provide useful information to customers and prospects.
Always add a link to more information on your website. It should be a page on your website that adds value to the Tweet but doesn’t require them to fill out a web form to view the information. This complements your lead-generation Tweets. You don’t want to make people fill out a web form every time or they may get frustrated.

4. Send Tweets to new blog posts or videos.
You can also send Tweets to older blog posts and videos that are still relevant.

5. You should Tweet 10 to 20 times a day to keep your brand name in the Twitter stream.
You can schedule the Tweets that have links to valuable content and complement that with five to 10 personalized Tweets where you are interacting with other Twitter users.

 

6. Create a persona for your Twitter presence so people will get to know your brand.
Investopedia defines brand personality as “A set of human characteristics that are attributed to a brand name.” A brand personality is something to which the consumer can relate, and an effective brand will increase its brand equity by having a consistent set of traits. This is the added value that a brand gains, aside from its functional benefits. There are five main types of brand personalities: excitement, sincerity, ruggedness, competence, and sophistication.

  • Excitement. It’s easy to spot a person who’s excited on Twitter.These people love life, and they love everything they do. They also love to share their excitement with the Twitterverse, and it’s fun to follow these people. Their Tweets will almost always uplift you.
     
  • Sincerity. We all know the sincere people in our lives. They really care about you and your well-being. They Tweet the same way by always being genuine, caring, and sincere when they converse with others on Twitter.
     
  • Ruggedness. These are the tough guys who never shed a tear. Their Tweets sound like John Wayne or Clint Eastwood confronting their adversaries and never backing down. You’ll never see a hint of compassion or sympathy from rugged Tweeters.
     
  • Competence. This is a well-educated, knowledgeable person who loves to Tweet information that will impress others. They love to share their knowledge and use big words in their Tweets, which can be challenging with the 140-character limit.
     
  • Sophistication. Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian are sophisticated Tweeters. They love to Tweet pictures of their shopping trips and expensive cars, and let you know they’re eating in the finest restaurants.

From my experience, consistency is the key to success when building your brand on Twitter. People get used to seeing your brand and persona on Twitter and look forward to your Tweets once they get to know you. You need to be engaging and entertaining when you Tweet to capture their attention. People become raving fans when you consistently provide valuable information and entertain them.

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