All posts by Nipa Shah

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Social Networking Not for You?

Companies are still not leveraging the power of social networking and the reasons include lack of understanding, lack of awareness of the power of social networking and perhaps the fear of the unknown.  Time and time again, I ask my prospects and clients "how many sales people do you have in your organization". And time and time again they give me a number that is much smaller than their company's total number of employees.  When I point out that each and every one of their employees is a "sales person", they are a bit embarrassed and also a bit perturbed as they never thought about it like that.

Companies are afraid to embrace social networking for more reasons than one. Most claim that they need to know the return on investment (ROI). This shows that their biggest reason for not embracing social networking is that they really don't understand the benefits. Companies are also afraid of employee abuse and not being able to determine who is doing what during company time.

The benefits of getting each and every employee of yours on social networks are many. Yes, there is potential for abuse too and I won't ignore that. However when employees are empowered, policies & procedures are put in place, and monitoring tools (kind of top video monitors for babies) are deployed, employee abuse can be managed appropriately.

Each employee can become a brand ambassador for your company helping build your company's brand awareness and brand visibility. By getting every employee trained on the various nuances of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks, your company will see an increase in connections & lead generation activity. And when each one of your employees engage with customers using social networks, you can build better customer loyalty and relationship.
Social networks become a great way for your employees to spread good PR about your company and its offerings. It also allows them to learn what's happening in the marketplace, see what your competitors are doing, and hear what the customers are saying. The fear of the unknown comes in when companies fear "negative" feedback from their customers who may choose to share their displeasure over something, on social networks. However, this is a great way to actually hear the negative feedback, offer a solution, implement a corrective course of action for the future, and turn the customer around to make him or her your biggest proponent.

And don't feel that you have to take the "each & every" recommendation to heart. It may be difficult to "train" each and every one of your employees to be a brand ambassador. There just may be a few employees whom you want to hide from prospects & customers due to lack of communication or "customer service" skills. By all means hide them for the greater good!

I believe that companies must embrace this new way of doing business or be left behind. Are you ready?

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Providing Search Results Faster Than You Can Think!

Thinking of something? Start typing and Google will provide you with the search results you may be thinking about faster than you can stop thinking!

Yep, Google's got the "instant" search which displays search results that are updated with every character you enter in the search box. So, Google is basically providing you an answer before you even formulate the question. No more pondering over what exactly to type when you are trying to find something. Every letter you type in will result in a set of results you can choose from.
Pretty cool eh?

Actually it is PRETTY DAMN annoying even as it is PRETTY DAMN cool!

The every character change results in distraction where you end up going somewhere you didn't want to go but because it showed up for a second before you typed the next character you decided to check it out. Also annoying because if you type the wrong character you end up again going somewhere where you didn't really want to go.

Also, I don't know if it is the Firefox browser I use or if it is Google's live search but the live search actually drags out the typing and makes me more prone to mistakes because a character doesn't register in the search box while it is retrieving  data. I know it's not fat fingers or my inability to type cause I can type with my eyes closed and barely make a few mistakes.

But those annoyances aside, live search is a pretty cool feature and if you stop to think about it, it's pretty awe-inspiring. And no, it doesn't stop the need to do search engine optimization in case you were thinking that. In fact I think that an even more comprehensive  Search Engine Optimization strategy may be needed in the future so that every phrase that may represent a company's business should be identified to allow that company's website to show up in the live search results.

Let's see how it shapes up but for now, hope you enjoy Google doing the thinking for you. Next thing we know Google may even begin delivering new clients to me! Hah!

Search Engine Marketing Blog: BitBop: Streaming, Full-length TV Shows for Androids

Wow! What will they think of next if all these new apps will get unveiled in 2010?

If you want to watch full-length TV shows from various networks and productions, Bitbop is the answer. Bitbop has unveiled an Android  application which will provide users with streaming, full-length TV shows over 3G or Wi-Fi. This Android App is available for most Androids and there's also a Blackberry version.

Similar to Hulu you say? Yep, it sure is except that for now, Bitbop offers two features that makes it more attractive over Hulu: you can download or stream shows (Hulu only allows streaming) and the content is commercial-free (Hulu has advertisements on some shows).

Bitbop offers a free trial for seven days and after that costs only $9.99 per month. Cheaper than cable or satellite TV eh?


Search Engine Marketing Blog: UDID What???

What is a UDID? No it's not something funky or a four letter short-hand acronym for use on Twitter or your favorite social networks. UDID stands for "Unique Device IDentifier" which is a 40-character, unique set of numbers and letters identifying your iPhone hardware. Apple has set up standards to ensure that the UDID usage doesn't violate user privacy.
Ah ha, but not everyone works ethically and so it appears from a study conducted by a researcher from Bucknell University where he found that private user data may be transmitted along with the UDID.

The study found that of the 57 top Apple Apps, almost 70 percent of the apps sent out the UDID and many apps dropped cookies on the phone that don't expire for years. This means that even old discarded phones can be linked to using the UDID information.

Unfortunately the UDID cannot be switched off so beware users, your phone is watching you and if your UDID is being transmitted to third party servers, who knows what else is being transmitted with it?


Search Engine Marketing Blog: Twitter Promoted Accounts Functionality

So on Twitter today, a new feature became visible under the "suggestions for you". Some suggested users have the word "Promoted" under their Twitter handle. Voilà, here come "Promoted Accounts", a new advertisement opportunity for Twitter users.

Twitter Promoted Accounts

"Suggestions for you" is a feature which suggests Twitter users whom you may not be currently following and may find "interesting".  Although how they come up with the "interesting" part is a bit of a mystery to me as some people they recommend to me, I'd never want to follow in a million years.

Twitter suggests "Promoted Accounts" based on who you follow and surmising from that list, who you may tend to follow. Twitter will recommend a promoted account if you are following other profiles that are similar but not following the user they want to promote. So if you are following many twitter users who are in Metro Detroit, you are sure to see a "Promoted Account" suggestion for another Metro Detroiter. Recommended accounts are recommended based on relevance, or so they say.

I didn't see any information about how the average Joe Smoe business owner can leverage the "Promoted Accounts" feature to promote themselves. Right now it seems only big dogs err brands get that privilege.

Perhaps Biz Stone will share that someday soon?

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Protect yourself from Hackers on Facebook

Have you recently logged into Facebook and found yourself requiring to verify information before accessing your Facebook page? I have and so have several of my colleagues and friends. It appears that Facebook is trying new ways to improve their security measures to help prevent hacking and scams against its users.

If you log into your account from a different location than usual, you are almost sure to receive a "verify your account information" request.

It's so easy to get yourself exposed to hackers. One click on the wrong link and you've just compromised your account to hackers who are just waiting for your slip. People fall for simple tricks like a post on the wall or an email that says "saw you on this video" or "lol, look at your photo". The link takes you to a hacking website and from that point on, its all downhill. In most cases, it's better to copy and paste a link into your browser window rather than clicking on it.

Prevention is always better than cure so change your password often and make it hard for others to "figure out". Never use birthdays, kids names, or general words that are common and easy to decipher. Hackers run routine scripts to break passwords and by using passwords like the word "password" or "food1" or something that simple you are making it easy for them to access your information. Try to create a password that includes a capital letter, lower case letters, numbers and special characters.
Finally, be careful whom you add as a friend. Do you even know this person or anything about him or her? Just because they sent a request, doesn't mean you need to add them. "Ignore" is just as easy an option to choose as "accept"!

Search Engine Marketing Blog: LinkedIn Email Attack

So I received several emails with the message "messages waiting in your inbox" supposedly from LinkedIn about my connections and contacts. I deleted them automatically knowing that they made no sense cause if someone were to write to me, I'd get notified anyway. Come to find out, LinkedIn was the latest to be targeted for an email attack just like Facebook and Twiter in recent weeks.

This attack was so huge that apparently one quarter of all spam email sent out last week was directed towards Linkedin users. Basically it looked like an invitation from someone looking to connect  and if the link is clicked on, the user is taken to a web page where a trojan horse program gets downloaded and embedded into the user's browser. The purpose of the trojan program is to capture all keystrokes to hijack personal information such as online banking information, passwords to other sites, etc.

Best thing to do is AVOID curiosity and delete anything that looks suspicious. You know that if there was a message waiting for you on Linkedin, you can just as easily log into LinkedIn and read it. Remember, never click on a link that you don't recognize, rather go to the site in question by typing its url in the browser window and thus protect yourself from going to a hacker's website.

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Productivity Away from Office With Desktop Connect Mobile App

Working remotely or traveling a lot and hate the fact that you can't get access to the files you need? Well, check out the ipad app known as Desktop Connect. Desktop Connect allows you to access files when you are out of the office and works on  Windows, Mac and Linux.

The initial set-up allows you to replicate the host computer on the ipad by connecting to it via a Virtual Network Computing software. By lowering the resolution on the ipad, the entire desktop fits the ipad screen. You can't download the files, you can only view and save as a screenshot.

Desktop Connect uses password protection and 128-bit encryption to ensure data is safe and costs only $14.99.

Search Engine Marketing Blog: AVG Protection for Social Media Websites too!

Hacking is real and lots of companies claim to offer real-time analysis and detection.

I read about AVG who has come out with a solution called "LinkScanner" which is a real-time scanning solution.  Basically, LinkScanner checks websites and shows you whether or not the sites you are visiting are safe or not. Whether you are surfing the web or shopping online or networking online various social networks, LinkScanner tells you whether those places are safe for you to provide your personal or private information to them.  You get real-time check and the protection is automatically activated for your safety.

It is available for PC and Mac.


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……