• TheDigitalJen
    Jennifer Stalzer on November 19, 2013

    Tough Lessons to Becoming a Socially Engaged Brand

    About 18 months ago, MasterCard set out on a mission to become the most socially connected and engaged brand in the payments space. As I look back, here's a look at almost ten hard lessons we learned.
  • ChristopherCarfi
    Christopher Carfi on December 9, 2013

    Five Trends That Are Going to Affect Marketing in 2014

    Agile marketing is now a common approach, and includes a healthy loop of building, testing, measuring, learning, refining and improving. There are five trends that you need to be on the lookout for when creating your marketing plans in the coming year, a combination of focus on results and a set of new channels that can connect directly to the bottom line.
  • JeffreyDachis
    Jeffrey Dachis on December 18, 2013

    Real-Time Marketing 101: It All Starts With The Trends

    Imagine you are a marketer in 1951. Harry S. Truman is president and Milton Berle is the most famous person on T.V., raking in 80% of all television viewers every night of the week. It’s the dawn of modern mass marketing. What if you were the first marketer to figure out how to use T.V. to sell stuff? You’d probably be in pretty high demand. The potential to sell your products would be effectively limitless. Well, an innovative, new marketing channel with the potential to rival television for its importance has arrived and marketers are starting to take notice.
  • Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on April 18, 2014

    Six Best Practices for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

    Content marketing is the linchpin of demand creation –the link between brand awareness and lead generation. Done well, it builds familiarity, affinity and trust with prospective and current customers by providing information that resonates – in the right format, through the right channel, at the right time.
  • IBM Social Business
    IBM Social Business on April 18, 2014

    Patterns in Achieving Social Business Success by Leading and Pioneering Organizations

    Here is an excerpt from “Patterns in Achieving Social Business Success by Leading and Pioneering Organizations,” an exclusive whitepaper brought to you by IBM. This whitepaper provides a step-by-step guide for determining your strategy to achieving social business success.
  • Spredfast
    Spredfast Business on May 1, 2014

    The Social Media Pocket Guide: Six Ways Marketers Should Use Social

    This guide walks through each of the “Big Six” objectives and provides a tactical overview of the business case, team considerations and actual content examples and templates to use for your social media initiatives. 
Download the guide now and use it as a cheat sheet on how to get started today using proven tactics and best practices.
  • Actiance
    Actiance Compliance on May 9, 2014

    The Forrester Wave: Social Risk and Compliance Solutions, Q2 2014

    Forbidding employees to use social networks because they may expose your business to risk is no longer a viable business strategy. According to its new report published today, “The Forrester Wave™: Social Risk And Compliance Solutions, Q2 2014,” Forrester Research, Inc. says “the practice of prohibiting social [is] no longer feasible.”
  • Spredfast
    Spredfast Business on June 9, 2014

    6 Blueprints for Social Network Success

    The Big 6 social networks offer tremendous marketing opportunities - but each one is very different from the next. That’s why Spredfast has assembled the 6 Blueprints for Social Network Success. In this quick-read collection, you’ll discover more than 50 constructive, actionable marketing tips and real-world examples from major brands like Hyatt, British Airways, Target, and General Mills. Let’s start building!
  • Synapsify
    Synapsify, Inc. on June 16, 2014

    Piecing Together the Story: Synapsify’s Annual Voice of Customer Industry Survey and Insight

    This eBook reveals the common practices and challenges faced today by social media managers/directors and brand insight analyst and conducted an online survey of 70 social media and content analysts professionally recruited for this survey. The survey results are presented as part of a complimentary eBook in which insight industry professionals shed light on their challenges and common practices they face in understanding the true voice of their customers.
  • People shopping for their first web host are undoubtedly assaulted with flashy offers and inexplicable features from a barrage of providers – sorting through all of the options and terms can be overwhelming, nevermind frustrating. Before making any decisions, learn the truth about these five popular hosting myths.

    People shopping for their first web host are undoubtedly assaulted with flashy offers and inexplicable features from a barrage of providers – sorting through all of the options and terms can be overwhelming, nevermind frustrating. And while there are plenty of excellent providers out there, it’s all too easy for first-time shoppers especially to be tricked with less than transparent offerings.

    Make sure that you choose smartly by knowing exactly what you’re buying. For starters, learn how to protect yourself against a bad host. Also, make sure that you know the truth about these five popular hosting myths.

    Myth #1: Any web hosting provider will do

    False, just false – that’s all. Just as all shoes, all people, or all home builders are not the same, not all web hosts are created equal. Your web host has a large hand in your site’s success – so choose wisely.

    Your hosting experience is determined by many factors, just some of which include:

    • Server reliability – You’ll see uptime guarantees from pretty much every provider; these guarantees are incredibly important, as are actual uptime records. A drop in just 0.5% uptime* is equivalent to an extra two days of your site being down – that’s a huge difference when your site is your revenue source. Don’t accept anything less than a 99.9% uptime guarantee. Period.
    • Site response speed – Your site load and response times are critical for securing – and keeping – happy visitors. Beyond the fact that most visitors will abandon your site and go elsewhere in just seconds, your response times also affect your search engine rankings. Google loves fast websites and ensuring that yours is fast is a quick way to get a better search listing.
    • Price – Some unsavory hosting providers take advantage of uninformed shoppers with extremely inflated pricing; don’t fall prey to this tactic.
    • Number of allowed domains – Some web hosts allow just one domain while others support unlimited domains. For some organizations, one may be enough – but for those looking to work sophisticated SEO strategies or multiple sites and sub-sites, this is an important factor.
    • After sales services – Customer service shouldn’t end once they get your name on the dotted line – a quality web host will provide ongoing support and education, such as a proper how-to guide or instructional videos, not to mention an option for human-to-human customer and technical support as needed.

    * A little more on uptime/downtime

    Just 1% drop in uptime will cost you more than 7 hours down time in reality. To emphasize on how significant is the uptime scores impact on website downtime (in minutes), here’s an Uptime/Downtime Table I made for your reference:

    UptimeDowntime Per YearUptime ScoreDowntime Per Year
    99.9%8h 46m98.9%4d 0h 22m
    99.8%17h 31m97.9%7d 15h 58m
    99.7%1d 2h 17m96.9%11d 7h 34m
    99.6%1d 11h 2m95.9%14d 23h 10m
    *Note: d = day(s), h = hour(s), m = minute(s)

    Myth #2: A free host is the best host

    Free hosting comes with the obvious benefit that there isn’t a cost… however, that benefit is generally overtaken by the slew of disadvantages.

    For example, since it’s free, you’ll receive far from professional-grade hosting – which means you aren’t able to provide your customers with professional service in the way of load times or appearances. Which leads to another disadvantage… to pay for the costs associated with providing hosting without client-based income, the hosting companies secure income elsewhere; namely through advertisements they will place on your site (that you won’t be able to remove, regardless of your tech and coding prowess. Additionally, free hosting solutions are far from reliable or reputable. Beyond the obvious downtime risks, you run the risk of the host shutting down overnight – which means that your site also disappears.

    There are plenty of budget-friendly web hosts that cost less than a cup of coffee each month. Considering the reliability and benefits you receive for such a slight expense, there is really no reason to go free… the business and revenue that you’ll lose far exceed the cost of hosting.

    Myth #3: All cheap web hosts suck

    A good host doesn’t need to cost a fortune – and, really, not all inexpensive hosts are bad.

    Sure, there are some drawbacks (think fewer included features and premium support options), but if you do your homework, filter out the bad apples, and smartly manage and work around the drawbacks, you should be able to find an awesome budget-friendly web host.

    My list of cheap web hosts that do not suck

    Cheap Web HostFeaturesPrice/moDetails
    Budget Hosting at BlueHostBandwidth: Unlimited
    Disk Space: Unlimited
    Addon Domain: Unlimited
    $3.50 BlueHost Review
     Visit BlueHost Online
    Budget Hosting at iPageBandwidth: Unlimited
    Disk Space: Unlimited
    Addon Domain: Unlimited
    $1.89 iPage Review
     Visit iPage Online
    Budget Hosting at A2 HostingBandwidth: Unlimited
    Disk Space: Unlimited
    Addon Domain: Unlimited
    $4.97 A2 Hosting Review
     Visit A2Hosting Online Note: Special discount available, read review for more.
    Budget Hosting at HostoopleBandwidth: Unlimited
    Disk Space: 150 GB
    Addon Domain: 2
    $3.95 Hostoople Interview
     Visit Hostoople Online
    Budget Hosting at WebHostingHubBandwidth: Unlimited
    Disk Space: Unlimited
    Addon Domain: Unlimited
    $1.99* WHH Review
     Visit WebHostingHub Note: Special discount available, read review for more.

    Myth #4: You need to be an IT expert to host your own websites

    Consider me living proof than everyone – not just IT pros – can host their own websites and online business. Personally, my education was for mechanical engineering, but I have been running web -based businesses and blogs full time for the past eight years.

    Without an IT expert.

    The truth is that many hosting providers offer a huge benefit of a user-friendly interface with an easy-to-use hosting control panel (cPanel or vDeck works just fine). And while graphic design prowess can certainly help to give you a one-of-a-kind high end site, there are several sites that make creating your own custom website or blog a piece of cake. Joomla! And WordPress are two of the most popular sites due to their ease of use, free guides, and support articles from users that are pretty much everywhere you look online. You don’t even need to know how to code to create a dynamic site that runs on databases. Sure, these types of skills help you to customize your look and functionality to the “nth” degree – but there are so many features already built in on existing platforms with graphic user interfaces that anyone can create a custom site.

    Don’t lose faith or confidence – just give it a try.

    you can do this

    Myth #5: You should find a web host with zero negative reviews

    As they say, “haters gonna hate.”

    Let’s be honest – people are far more likely to provide feedback when they are angry or upset than when they’ve had a positive experience – not to mention that some web hosting shoppers simply have unrealistic expectations. That said, you’re much more likely to find negative reviews or complaints. Beyond that, the more business that a company does, the more they grow and the more likely they are to receive negative feedback. It’s just a mathematical fact.

    The truth is that every hosting company – no matter how great they may be – will have negative reviews. This isn’t to say that you should completely ignore the comments; there is likely something to the majority of them. The real proof of a company’s value and service is to investigate deeper to find how the hosting company in question handled those critiques and negative comments.

    Is there evidence that they have made changes to address the concerns and complaints? Did they take the time to respond to the review or reach out to the person who left the feedback? What was their tone when doing so? Finding the answers to these questions will provide a much better, much more full-circle view of the provider and your likely experience should you sign with them.

    Now go play!

    There is plenty of information out there about how to find and select a web host. Be wary of what you read and make sure to ask questions. If you do your homework, you will no doubt find a great web host that meets your needs and also fits within your budget.

    You have been tasked with developing a social media program for your campaign or organization and you want to know where to begin. Sure, the obvious first steps are to create you social media channels (which, of course, includes coming up with a message strategy and name for your Twitter account, Facebook page, and any other channels you decide to create).

    You have been tasked with developing a social media program for your campaign or organization and you want to know where to begin. Sure, the obvious first steps are to create you social media channels (which, of course, includes coming up with a message strategy and name for your Twitter account, Facebook page, and any other channels you decide to create). But once you have your brand channels and message strategy in place, it is time to start building your core social media community. Most people will start looking outward to do this, but I suggest you start by focusing inward and organize your colleagues.

    Unlike your brand and project social media channels, your organization does not own your staff’s personal channels. But even though your colleagues are free agents on their own social media channels, they are still a crucial asset to your organization’s program and strategy. Your colleagues are experts on many of the issues that matter to your organization and they are (hopefully) big supporters of your mission. But you cannot force them to tweet on behalf of your organization and you really cannot stop them from tweeting about things that have nothing to do with your mission. The key to getting value out of your colleagues on social media is to treat them like a VIP community that you organize just like any other key influencer community.

    The secret to organizing any influencer community on social media is to create a value proposition that reinforces behavior among the members to move your advocacy or political agenda forward while advancing the individual goals of each member. The advantage you have when organizing your colleagues, as opposed to other communities, is physical proximity. You can walk into their offices, most of the time, for face to face communication. For those working remotely, you can call or email with a greater likelihood that they will respond in a timely fashion. You can give lots of value in return for their help.

    With the extra ease of communication you get with colleagues, you are able to easily train them to be more effective social sharers. You can check in on them to see if they need some extra help (and to see what projects they have in need of social promotion). You can send out daily emails with suggested tweets (including the trackable short URLs you want them to use). You can develop deliberate social media strategies for their projects during their early phases to help raise awareness of their work and improve their reputations. And you can encourage them to interact with each other, creating a more compelling presence for them on social media.

    In return, you can use your brand and project channels to retweet and share their posts. You can recommend them on Twitter with #FFs and other @mentions. And if you are collecting performance data for all your colleagues, you can provide them with data-driven recommendations for improving their outreach activity. All of this helps them grow their professional reputations while raising the profile of your organization.

    What your organization gets in return for organizing your colleagues is substantial. First, each of your colleagues will have their own networks to reach out to, expanding your reach. And their influence will likely be stronger for a unique set of people compared to your organization. Second, your organization’s message will get more repetition without your brand channels becoming overly redundant and boring.

    Third, by having the option to retweet or share comments from your experts, instead of your message always coming from your inanimate brand, your persuasiveness goes up and you get to be more “social.” Aside from the reality that social media is really about people interacting with other people, we know that messages from an expert is more persuasive than messages from an organization.

    Since you cannot force your staff to share your organization’s work on social media, but you would greatly benefit if they do, you have to treat them like any other key community you are organizing. Train them, support them, incentivize them and reinforce them to share. Create easy to share content. Create friendly competition with leaderboards and prizes (even if it is just recognition). This will not only ensure that your organization’s message will be shared far and wide by trusted messengers, but it will also ensure that when your staff move on to new jobs, they will keep sharing your message.

    Most business owners understand the importance of a social media presence but often cite three reasons why they don’t spend as much time on it as they should.

    Most business owners understand the importance of a social media presence but often cite three reasons why they don’t spend as much time on it as they should:

    1. I don’t have time to visit my social accounts every day

    2. I don’t know what makes a good tweet or update

    3. I can’t keep up with best practices on all the different channels

    That’s understandable! It seems like as soon as you get used to a social media channel, the company changes the rules. Just as you learn to construct the perfect update for one social site, everyone is talking about a new site that you just “have to be on.” Once you get good at posting pictures on your social channels, suddenly it’s de rigeur to post video instead.

    It’s enough to make any CEO throw up their hands in frustration and go back to print media forever. This is where social media management companies can help your business shine. Hiring a team of experts who live and breathe social media helps you avoid the frustration of staying current on the latest dos and don’ts and keeps your social channels running smoothly so you’re free to run your business.

    According to a study by customer relationship management vendor Constant Contact, small businesses owners spend as much as 33 hours a week on marketing activities. That’s nearly the equivalent of a full-time employee! It’s clear that outsourcing social media is a game-changer for anyone who wants to maximize their social impact without taking a toll on the people running the ship.

    Even one social media channel takes a lot of time to run effectively. Here’s just some of what goes into managing just one account:

    ●     Creating an editorial calendar

    ●     Writing the perfect update, sometime within a strict character count

    ●     Responding to messages left on your timeline

    ●     Replying to private messages from customers

    ●     Engaging with other thought leaders in your industry

    ●     Finding great re-shareable content to be a good social media citizen

    ●     Frequent daily monitoring of the account to quickly respond to followers or customers

    ●     Regular analytics reviews to determine the best content to post, what time of day to post it, etc

    Now multiply that by the number of social media channels you have (or want) and you can see how quickly the hours stack up. The small business owners who responded to Constant Contact’s survey report that their time is worth at least $273 per hour -- it’s no wonder why so many see the benefit of outsourcing their social media.

    In addition to the obvious cost benefit of outsourcing, don’t underestimate how helpful it is to have someone monitoring your channels around the clock and on weekends. Customers can pop up with comments or questions at any time of day. When you hire a social media management team you can enjoy much-needed time away from your computer without worrying about what’s happening on your Twitter or Facebook timeline.

    Perhaps the biggest benefit to outsourcing your social media is the peace of mind of having one less thing to worry about. You can’t put a price tag on that. You can rest easy knowing that if a social site suddenly changes up the rules or an important conversation springs up about your industry, the team is on top of it right away.

    Many business owners say the key to success lies in delegating tasks to people who are experts in the field. When it comes to the nuanced world of social media, it’s tough to stay on top of the avalanche of new ideas. Bringing a social media management company on board is the only “best practice” you need to know! 

    Image: Esther Vargas

    Social media is everywhere these days. What started as an amusing online pastime is now one of the main ways in which people communicate with one another. However, as should be expected with over 2 billion people using a service, with the increased popularity of social media has also come increased risks.

    Social media is everywhere these days. What started as an amusing online pastime is now one of the main ways in which people communicate with one another.

    However, as should be expected with over 2 billion people using a service, with the increased popularity of social media has also come increased risks. In fact, most people do not know just how much of a risk they are facing on social media every day. Here are three of the most common.

    1. Phishing and Baiting

    These are the terms that are used to describe an array of different techniques that hackers use to gain your personal information online. They will bait you using seemingly legitimate links and messages, and attempt to get you to enter sensitive information. One of the most common forms of phishing right now is called “click-jacking,” wherein cybercriminals will disguise their corrupted link underneath a legitimate one, so that you mistakenly click on theirs.

    Malvertising is another common problem, where malicious links will be disguised as seemingly legitimate advertisements.

    2. Weak Security

    Many of the most common social networks have come under fire in recent years for their lax cyber security. Big name sites such as Facebook and Linkedin have been compromised, losing the personal information of many users to cybercriminals. Furthermore, the recently discovered Heartbleed bug highlighted the weak nature of many of the biggest websites around, despite what you may have previously thought. If hackers can gain access to a friend’s account, they will use it to steal that information, impersonate them, and then trick others into giving theirs.

    3. Oversharing

    The third big problem that social media users face is one of the biggest problems that faces anyone in any walk of life: human error. The whole nature of social media is one that encourages people to share everything. And anyone who is even a casual user of social media can tell you that oversharing is a common occurrence. Cybercriminals will use this to their advantage, and it is often the root of problems such as fraud.

    How many times have you seen something interesting on Facebook only to forget what it was or who posted it later on? Now you can spare yourself this anguish with the help of a new Facebook save feature, which will help users keep interesting, important and memorable posts in their back pocket for future use.

    How many times have you seen something interesting on Facebook only to forget what it was or who posted it later on? Now you can spare yourself this anguish with the help of a new Facebook save feature, which will help users keep interesting, important and memorable posts in their back pocket for future use.

    According to their announcement, Links, places, movies, TV shows and music can all be saved into a special Facebook “saved items” section that only you can access— unless you choose to share it with your friends. These saved items can be accessed under the “more” tab on mobile or from the left side menu on the Facebook website, where they are placed into categories for easy access.

    Facebook will also occasionally remind you about things you’ve saved with newsfeed notifications, so you may still want to use traditional bookmarks for things you want to save forever. That said, this new Facebook save feature is a great timesaver for people who only have time to browse, but not really explore Facebook links and media, during the workday. Like the rest of the internet, our Facebook feeds can become overwhelming and this new feature is a great way for the company to both acknowledge and help fix that fact.

    This feature will be rolling out to users over the next few days. Check out the video below to see what saving something on your mobile able entails.

    Introducing Save on Facebook from Facebook on Vimeo.

    Will you be using Facebook’s new Save feature? Let us know in the comments below.

    Image via Facebook