Search Engine Marketing Blog: Where are you Business Cards? Here are some cool mobile apps!

I'm AWED, literally AWED when I see people pull out their folder and in it every business card is organized and logged with information of when they came in contact with those people, etc. These are SUPER organized people who deserve a medal and an brain scan, LOL. Ok, I'm just kidding!

Any way! The above mentioned people would have a fit if they saw my system for filing business cards. Stack after stack after stack is wrapped in rubber bands and placed in various locations in my office. When the mood strikes me, I hand a stack to one of the kids or the hubby (who tries to look busy but I know he's doing nothing important) and ask them to create an excel based email list for my future use.

Those business card scanners never really appealed to me. Well, now with my mobile phone, I think I could be a reformed & organized business card owner. There are a few apps out there for iphones and other smartphones that could make life easier for people like me (assuming we want to make it easier).

So let's take a look at this really "cool" business card app called CamCard for most mobile phones. It scans cards in 12 languages and allows  you to edit the card's image. Basically, you open the app, take a photo of the business card and stores it in a card holder that you can sort by name. You can search for a particular card too. CamCard costs a mere $7 and comes with a "lite" version which is free. The lite version scans and stores fewer cards but can still be useful to you if you don't want to spend the $7.

Two other apps that are worth mentioning are WorldCard Mobile which costs $6 and ScanBizCards  which costs $7. Both are for iphones.

I'm waiting for the day when there are no business cards at all and an electronic chip inserted into my arm can beam information right into the other person's mobile device (and vice versa)! You're laughing but I'm telling you, it's coming soon……

 

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Cool presentation software for ipad users

Well, here's an ipad app that will make it easy for you to create and present your work to small or large groups. The app is called Keynote and it is a presentation app which allows you to create presentations on the ipad.

You can scroll through your slides, add new slides, and reposition one or multiple slides. You can also drag and drop photos, movie files, charts, and tables into your presentation.

Want do razzle-dazzle your audience? You can add animation and cinema-like effects. Your audience is sure to be impressed with the high-resolution display.

Have a slightly larger group which can fit around your table to view your presentation? Buy an ipad Dock Connector to VGA adapter and connect the ipad to a television or projector to display your presentation on a bigger screen..

Best part – with Keynote, you can open not just keynote files but also PowerPoint files. Not only that, you can send the file from your ipad to your Mac or PC as either Keynote, PowerPoint, or pdf documents.

I love it!!! Ain't technology just great???
 

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Hacking is Illegal, Period!

Results published by a recent survey showed that students aged 18-21 thought hacking was cool.

The survey was conducted on 1000 students and 37% of the 1000 students who were surveyed admitted to hacking a site or an account. Shocking news? You bet!

The students surveyed admitted to hacking Facebook profiles, shopping accounts and email accounts. One-third of the ones who admitted to hacking revealed that their motive was simply fun, a few admitted to doing it out of curiosity and a few admitted to do it for monetary gain. Remember these are only 18-21 year old people!

Hacking is basically an invasion of privacy. Hacking an account is similar to breaking and entering. Hacking is also just as illegal as breaking into someone's home.

I see the need for a whole series of classes from high-schoolers and college going kids to adults in the workplace that discusses online etiquette, hacking as it relates to invasion of privacy, and social media moral and ethical "do's and don'ts".

 

Search Engine Optimization Blog: SQUARE for accepting credit cards via iphones!

Here's another iPhone application that is genius! If you are selling at remote locations and find that people don't carry cash and want to pay you by credit cards, this is an app for you.

Meet iphone app, Square which allows you to accept credit card payments through your iphone! All you have to do is type in the total amount, slide the customer's credit card through a small SQUARE device that plugs into the iphone's earplug hole, ask the customer to sign using their fingers, and voila! You've just made a sale by accepting a credit card.  And customers can be emailed a receipt later on.

Square is use-friendly and easy to use for even people who are not technology savvy.  Amazing eh?

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Your very own FourSquare iphone App!

I'm no developer but I keep track of all these cool technology things that are happening around me.  Well, I just read about a do-it-yourself iphone app platform called Bizness Apps.They launched an app feature recently using which businesses can create their own check-in coupons using their iphone app. It would be similar to foursquare where you can check into a particular location and unlock coupons created by that business. Business owners can completely customize the coupons and edit them real time.

It works like this. When you check into a business location, you receive a reward coupon for your various check-ins. So you can get rewarded for your 10th, 25th, 200th, whatever check-in and this is customized by each business so different businesses may have different rewards created. The coupons show up as an image in the iphone app and are deleted when used by the business owner who issued the coupon in the first place. No need for clipping coupons or remembering coupon codes.

These coupons are simple, efficient, cost-effective and allow businesses to show build brand loyalty with customers by rewarding them as often as possible. And you know how viral marketing works so you know that once a person sees the value, the word will spread to his or her network of family and friends and the next thing you know, the business will gain new customers from such a simple app.

Business owners can create their coupons very easily. You basically create a free account and begin creating your application and have something ready in 20-30 minutes. Once it's ready, you'll have to pay to launch it in the itunes app store and you pay Bizness Apps $39 per month for hosting and maintenance of the iphone application you just created.

iphone applications are simply genius. They allow people to immediately connect with others using their respective iphones, engage with others, and essentially simplify things that are so mainstream to us currently but when looked through the iphone look cumbersome and archaic.

Search Engine Marketing Blog: As popular as Social Media has become, why is Mobile Marketing so slow to become mainstream?

I get a few mobile messages on my mobile phone and not any of them are because I "opted-in" – so basically they are all spam messages. However industry experts claim that approximately 20% of consumers have opted-in to receive mobile messages. But considering where we are in this age of texting and social networks, this numbers sounds quite low to me.

So what's the reason for this slow progression of mobile marketing? Well, as in most cases, it's either lack of awareness on the part of both advertisers and consumers and / or the lack of "buy-in" from the advertisers themselves that mobile marketing is going to be effective or bring return on investment.

Some other reasons could be the consumer's fear of everybody and their brother bombarding them with mobile coupons and advertising that may not be relevant to them or be needed for immediate use.

And the privacy issue cannot be underscored enough – as soon as your cell phone is open to receive information from others, most people may think that their privacy is at stake. So unless brands give a guarantee that the consumer's privacy is not at stake and that third parties won't have free access to the consumer's phone and personal details, mobile marketing is going to take even longer to become mainstream.
 

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Facebook for Business – Strategies for Making Social Media Marketing Work!

Ok so we know that Facebook is the most popular network and that over 500M users use it more than they collectively use Gmail, Google and Youtube. But what does that mean to you as a business owner?

How will it benefit you? The question of Social Media Marketing and ROI (return on investment) is asked of me every single time I'm talking to a prospect or even in general when I share what I do with others. My first response is a factitious "Marketing has no ROI".
However I realize that businesses need to know that their hard-earned money isn't just going down this loosy-goosy marketing strategy that has no real tangible outcome or so they think.

So I decided that this list to make Facebook work for your company/product/service is what I'm going to share with my prospects going forward:

  • Think Conversations: Social websites are about two-way, interactive dialogs and therefore your Facebook interactions must be two-way, not one-way. Try to engage people with questions that allow their responses. Share the good and the bad with your fans & followers. Even if the consumer has a negative comment or experience or is not quite in agreement with your line of thinking on a particular topic, allow those discussions to happen. That's because if you prevent them on your page, that conversation will happen elsewhere and it may be more damaging cause you can't control it.
     
  • Think Branding not SalesSocial media websites are not meant for "direct" sales. Consumers on social networks want to network with others. They know that interacting with a company profile means that they'll hear about what the company does and what they sell but they still don't want you to sell to them. By showcasing accomplishments, clients, positive news, community engagement, etc.

    Remember, we do business with people we trust. Similarly, we buy from companies who leave a favorable impression and we stop buying products from companies who are found of ethical wrong-doing. So if you as a company can engage and converse without being intrusive, when the time for buying comes, who do you think the consumer is going to think of?
     

  • Think Visibility: I tell people that "if you and I could afford it, we'd all buy billboard, television, and radio advertisement" because those are all channels designed to reach large audiences. Well, social media websites are YET ANOTHER CHANNEL. Just like radio, television, and billboards create visibility for a brand, so do social media websites because of the large numbers of people who participate. If you aren't playing on social networks, you're losing out because consumers are searching for you on social networks. And if you aren't there now, you'll need to be there soon cause guess what, your competition is already there!

Another great reason to on social media websites is to get maximum links coming into your main corporate website which helps you from an organic search engine optimization perspective.  And finally social media websites are the MOST cost effective medium to reach the MOST people, period! If a cost-per-consumer calculation were to be done, social media websites would win hands-down.

Now there are a lot of disadvantages of using social media websites for corporates too and they include distraction from day to day work, non-targeted audience reach, etc. etc. but that's to be expected. Let's take a billboard example to compare: If your ad is placed on a major freeway, is every person driving down that stretch of the highway a prospect? Similarly, every individual on Facebook may not be your target prospect but you know what, they may know someone who knows someone who can use your services. And that's the bottom-line: Networking with your trusted network – that's what social media websites offer.

Agree? Disagree? Would love to hear from you….

 

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Facebook-nama

Here are some interesting tidbits which have been published by others and collated by me. Sort of like a mini Facebook-nama (remember Shah-nama where the stories were collected but not invented by the author). So here goes:

  1. Corporate which uses Facebook the MOST: Microsoft. This is based on their frequency of posting and number of employees
     
  2. Amazon, ebay, Google, and Walt Disney round up the top five users – (Credit: NetProspex)
     
  3. Loss of productivity in the workplace due to Facebook is estimated at approximately 1.5%. If you are an employee, you're thinking "ah, that's a small number" but not when you calculate the sum total of say even 1000 employees.
     
  4. If you are searching for a job, better to be on Facebook than on LinkedIn because apparently that's more used for researching candidates than LinkedIn is! Surprised?  (Guess what this means to you if you are posting videos and pictures that are oh not-so-kosher? Yep, loss of a job interview cause hiring managers absolutely do not want to see you drinking in your undies at a party and boasting of a DUI; although your qualifications may be top-notch)
     
  5. Over one-fifth of Facebook's 500 million users access Facebook through their mobile devices including yours truly.
     
  6. There are over 1.5 million corporate profiles or pages on Facebook.
     
  7. Greater than 13% of US traffic to portals like Yahoo, AOL, and Bing comes from Facebook
     
  8. Average time spent by consumers on Facebook? 40 minutes per consumer per day.
     
  9. Average time spent by people on Facebook in a given month? 700 billion minutes!
     
  10. US brands, this is perhaps the MOST important statistic for you. US Facebook user number? Approximately 166 million people.

So, if you are a US brand and you aren't awed yet by the number of users, amount of time spent, and the reach you get with Facebook, call me so that I can pontificate some more about the rest of the social networks and WHY you need to be online NOW!

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Social Media for Small Business

As a small business owner, you are either already on social networks or planning to get there soon. You probably already have a blog even though you may not be blogging regularly and you probably went ahead and created your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles even though you don't quite know how to make use of them or can't find the necessary time to do so.

But as a business owner have you considered your goals for getting on these social platforms? Most business owners just haven't understood the reason why they need to be on social networks. They give me reasons like "I know I need to be there", "my competition is there", "my kids tell me to be there" and so on and so forth.

Most businesses don't realize that by getting on social networks, what they get is brand awareness and visibility. That's the best reason to be there. These social networks allow businesses to constantly engage with others through conversations, share product knowledge, demonstrate their products & services, and basically dialog with people whom they've never met or perhaps have no hopes of ever crossing paths with.

When you do all of the above, over the long haul, it would make sense then that people would begin to become familiar with your brand and or product /service.

Another benefit of social media websites is that it is and can be a very good lead generation tool for most businesses, but especially so for the smaller ones. When people get to know you, they will ask you about your products or services and send quote requests. Some may refer people to you. The value of social networks aiding better search engine rankings also cannot be underscored enough.
 
Small business owners should be rushing over to these networks to make the most out of them to aid them in growing branding, visibility, and leads. Money should not be the reason that you don't go social. Just like ANY OTHER business need, small business owners need to create a budget line-item and leverage social networks to grow themselves and their brand.

Those businesses that still don't get it, will realize too late that their competition has raced past them to the finish line.
 

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Promote your Business with a TwtQpon!

TwtQpon.com is a cute tool that allows  you to create online coupons and distribute them through Twitter, Facebook, and other sites. It obviously appears to be more appropriate for Ecommerce retailers but I think non-ecommerce retailers can try to use them too to generate more visibility for themselves. 

Basically this application can allow you to add more value to your followers by offering them a special deal. It would probably work best for florists, pizzerias, restaurants, and online retailers who want to quickly pick up some sales and also get some visibility on twitter, fast!

Steps to create your TwtQpon:

Visit TwtQpon.com and then click on the "Create a Coupon" button. In the web form, enter the following information:

  • Your Twitter account name, coupon title, and coupon details (high-level)
  • Include an image of your logo or product you are selling
  • Specify a coupon code or leave it blank (but it's better to include one for tracking purposes)
  • Add a link to your website's landing page (specify the correct one)
  • Optional: Include an expiration date for the coupon (always best to have an expiration date)

 
All done!

Once the TwtQpon is created for Washington DC. Mark J. Rochon, the app gives you an option to tweet about it, share it on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other sites and even email it to people you want to notify.  Your network will see an update with the information you filled out above. When people click on the link in the post/email, they'll be taken to TwtQpon.com & then from there they'll be redirected to the URL you had  included when creating the coupon.
 
And the latest release of TwtQpon allows you to brand your TwtQpons….yep, with your logo and branding colors.

TwtQpon says "there are no fixed costs, you can decide how much you want to pay" for creating the branded TwtQpon.  So you pay a one-time fee using paypal (cool how you are redirected to pay pal) and then you can create your branded TwtQpon. Since your profile travels with your twtQpon, you get additional brand visibility.

Sounds like a good deal to me. You can pay as little as $10 per coupon creation and offer whatever specials you want. (Although if every user even just pays $10, the TwtQpon folks with only 5000 followers can make $50K.)

Why don't I have such ideas eh??? Think Nipa, Think!!!