Years ago I was babysitting my nephew.  He was sitting on the floor in his diapers with a boatload of toys and I was sitting on the floor next to him doing my best to entertain him.  I noticed that whatever toy of his I was playing with he wanted.  He’d reach out his little hand for the toy I had, dropping his current toy in the process.  Doing what any good and caring uncle would do, I decided to experiment on him.  I started picking up random items nearby and playing with them like they were really cool toys too.

“Brrrrrrrr!  Bam Bam Bam!” I exclaimed as I made a rolled up extension cord fly by like it was a fighter jet.  Sure enough, the little hand reached out to grab it, dropping a perfectly good Star Wars X-Wing fighter in the process.  It wasn’t long until I had 2 more Star Wars toys and a Buzz Lightyear figure that shot laserbeams from his wrist while my nephew had various cardboard boxes and an old shoe to play with.

We are naturally inclined to reach for whatever the next big thing is.  Right now, social media is that thing, and for the most part, it is worth reaching for.  But what shiny toys might we be dropping in the process?  Likely it is email marketing. […]

Last month I had the extreme privilege of being selected by NASA to report live at the launch of STS-132, the last scheduled mission for the space shuttle Atlantis.  After a thorough screening process I was issued press credentials and allowed 2 day access to the historic NASA Launch Complex 39 Press Site next to the Vehicle Assembly Building where they prep the shuttles (and the Apollo Saturn V rockets back in the 60’s and 70’s), put them on a giant crawler and move them out to the launch pad.  The funny thing is: I’m not a reporter.  But here I am at the final launch of Atlantis with news crews and media outlets from around the globe.  I’m meeting astronauts, NASA engineers and getting up close and personal viewing at the launch pad where Atlantis proudly stands getting final prepping for launch. How did I, a non-reporter, manage to trick NASA into giving me press credentials for a shuttle launch?  It’s simple: Twitter.

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…or How a Blog is Like a Puppy

Blogs are the new “it” internet technology. All the cool kids have one. And everyone seems to be buzzing about all the great things they can do for you:

  • Build organic traffic from search engines
  • Establish you as a trusted authority in your field
  • Build buzz for new products and developments
  • Serve as a communication tool between your company and your customers

All of that is true, but if you don’t consider all the responsibilities that come along with your brand new blog, it may just come back to bite you… […]

Viral videos are one of the mysteries of social media marketing; most people assume “going viral” (getting people to share and view your video online, creating buzz) is pretty much luck or the domain of Fortune 500 companies with large ad agencies working for them. Steve Strauss’ article tries to present some concrete steps to help you plan and execute your own viral video.

Read it here: 7 Steps to Creating a Viral Video

We all know about Twitter and Facebook – how could we not as they have been beaten into our brains over the last year.  Most of us are likely fatigued from the overload of media attention they have generated – Facebook this, Twitter that.  Yet if you use these tools to help promote your business, you know the importance of keeping up with any news related to these two social media giants.

On a smaller scale, Twitter and Facebook are not the only games in town to pay attention to as there are newer players on the social media field.  These newer players are helping to define the future trends in social media and networking.  Here are 4 trends to watch and the web apps that are behind them: […]

I just learned about a great new website that recently launched but already has a wealth of collected expert knowledge – http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/.  Social Media Examiner is a free online magazine with articles and videos to help businesses take advantage of social media tools to generate sales and leads.

Enjoy! And feel free to comment below and add links to specific articles there that you find helpful.

Google is huge, no doubt, but one area they have struggled is in establishing a social networking platform to connect their huge user base.  The more time users spend with Google – the more opportunities for Google to monetize off of them.  Granted, they have a lot of cool and free tools to play with, but there is a reason Google Adwords appear in your Gmail inbox.  Having a social network that users can hang out on for hours at a time is the big nut Google hopes to crack, and Google’s primary social networking nutcracker for the last few years has been Orkut.

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Yep, that is my predicition.

In 2009, while our economy continues to slug along, those that do a good job of marketing themselves online stand to have a very good year. We’ve all probably heard stories of how a lot of people became rich during the Great Depression – because it is true. Those that keep their eye on the ball when everyone else is distracted will continue to hit home runs – it won’t be as easy as it was before, but it will still happen.

Markets are shifting right now. While mainstream for quite some time now, the internet is now starting to subplant other channels of distribution and marketing. Newspapers are struggling, some either are, or are planning to go to internet-only distribution. Video, which had the exclusivity of TV delivery, is now more popular than ever online (even traditional TV’s might be hooked up to a PC or Apple TV), Google searches are replacing Yellow Page look-ups, users are carrying around internet-enabled cell phones loaded with mobile apps that connect to their online accounts, businesses are advertising online with pay-per-click advertising. While lower than before, the spikes in gas prices over the last few years has more people getting used to the idea of staying at home where they can spend more time surfing the web. A new generation is growing up not knowing of a world prior to high-speed internet. Social networking is redefining public relations for major companies and public figures.

There is a fundamental shift that is taking place – while we thought we have already seen the impact of the internet on our lives, we are now realizing that the last 10 years was just a slightly advanced stage in it’s infancy. A major growth spurt is coming in 2009 and a lot of companies that thought they had a “web presence” are going to get left behind, while a lot of companies that are “plugged in” to the coming changes will reap great rewards.

So, what are the nutshell nuggets of knowledge to pull from all this?

First you can’t be just a “web presence”. You can’t be “static” online. You can’t think of a website as the beginning and end of your online efforts. Sure, it has worked in the past, and in many cases working still. But at some point it no longer will.

Second, change the way you think about the internet – almost consider it a parallel universe. 20 years ago, they called the concept “virtual reality”. It made a lot of buzz but died down as the real world realities of the internet’s limitations at the time softened our vision of this “cyber-space”. Now we are seeing virtual reality slowly coming about. Sure, it’s not a funny headset and Tron-like graphics, but the internet is becoming another place that we exist, or more importantly, where your customer’s exist. They are not just hopping online to do a quick search with a keyword phrase to find your product or service and then signing off, they are living much of their life there. So, you will need to be “plugged in” to where they are, what they’re doing and how to get their attention.

We are already seeing this shift in our business. We are not a website development firm anymore, despite my old-habits-die-hard habit of calling us that. We are actually an interactive agency now. Developing the site for your web presence is no longer the beginning and end of our involvement. Throughout 2009 we will be asked to build the “main” site, setup the blogs, create sub-sites, recommend lead tracking solutions, secure advertising, handle marketing campaigns, develop a social media strategy, manage company brands, oversee public relations, broadcast online call-in radio shows, produce video, write copy, record podcasts, program applications, create training materials, research keywords and provide consultation services.

By being prepared for changes in 2009 as the internet leaves behind it’s infancy, you can be a part of it’s growth spurt.

Can you be instantly recognized on the web? I can and I will teach you how.

Most web applications these days as well as forums and web commenting systems allow you to have a picture and URL associated with your online identification. This picture is called an avatar. Are you using one? Don’t let the gray link-less man represent you. Leverage social networking to increase traffic and recognition. After all marketing your self is just as important as marketing your business.

First and foremost make sure that your user name across various sites is the same, this also applies to social apps like twitter. What if my preferred user name is taken? Use a very similar variant, or another popular alias you feel comfortable with. Two user names? You will see why this isn’t such a big deal here in a sec. This name is one piece of the puzzle to becoming recognized. Internet users who browse the same sites as you or are members of the same forum will see your name pop up and know that this post or comment is yours. Now seal the deal. […]