After a long break I’ll be giving a course on social media marketing for businesses on Sept. 23 and 30. The course had filled up already, but we’ve moved the venue to a bigger room so we have 5 spaces left for anyone interested. The course will take place in the Sandisk offices in the Kfar Saba Hi-Tech park. Each session will be four hours, and we will get hands-on at every stage with tools and techniques for optimizing your social media activity.
For more information about costs, venue, topics, etc., please contact us at (02) 5660297 or via email at email@example.com.
Sept. 23: What exactly is social media, and how do I use it effectively?
Part 1: What is social media marketing? (1 hour)
- What makes something social? What is Web 2.0? We’ll look at the most important elements of social media today: RSS, Video, Widgets, Tagging, and more to get everyone on the same page.
- The importance of social media in your marketing activity
- Case studies: companies and organizations that have successfully and unsuccessfully used social media
Part 2: Planning effective strategies for social media activity (3 hours)
- Elements of an effective social media strategy
- Setting goals
- Important considerations before starting
- Research your space
- Monitoring & engaging – how, what
- DO NOT neglect the other “boring” stuff: SEO, email, advertising, etc.
Sept. 30: Practical techniques for implementing your social media strategy
Part 1: Overview of important social networks – what they are, how to best use them for marketing (3 hours)
- How to use twitter for marketing: setting up profiles that work for business, building up community, promoting your profile, what and how to write, monitoring, measuring, the best tools, etc.
- Using facebook for business: profiles, Pages, applications, events, etc.: critical differences between each of them, how to choose the right ones for your purposes, setting up a facebook presence that works for marketing and promotion.
- YouTube and other video sites: why video is the next generation of web marketing, what to keep in mind when working with video, ideal length and content, how to promote your video to achieve your marketing goals
- Blogs – “old fashioned” but crucial: blogs are the hubs of an effective social media presence. What to keep in mind, how to set it up, how to integrate it with your other social media activity, ideal frequency for updates, what to write, how to write, how to promote.
Part 2: Personal branding (1 hour)
- What is personal branding?
- Why everyone should work on their online personal brand today
- How to create a successful personal brand with social media
Summing up: Where to go from here (0.5 hours)
- Key points to keep in mind when branching out into social media
- Putting it all together
- Working with (skeptical) upper management
About the speaker – me, Miriam Schwab
Miriam is the Friendly CEO of illuminea, and has been speaking and teaching about social media and blogging for business for over two years.
illuminea is a marketing firm dedicated to helping businesses and organizations use the social web effectively as an integrated part of their marketing mix. illuminea has extensive expertise in designing, developing and strategizing business blogs, and using these blogs as the hub for launching successful social media marketing activities. Part of illuminea’s day-to-day activities involve keeping up with the latest developments in the social web so that we are always able to offer our clients the best solutions for their needs.
Among illuminea’s clients are some of Israel’s leading companies and personalities, including Comverse, Commtouch, Natan Sharansky, and more. Click here to view testimonials from illuminea’s clients.
Here is a list of the conferences and events that Miriam has spoken at:
Wordcamp 2007 – moderator http://english.wordcamp-israel.info/ and the schedule
Marchshoret, Nov. 2, 2008. Presentation is here
Partnership 2000, Nov. 12, 2008
SSVN, hosted by IBM on July 8, 2009. Read reviews. Presentation.
ISOC Israel:How to create a personal brand by using online tools- MP3 of lecture; presentation; article on The Com (Hebrew).
MEET Alumni Conference, August 4-5, 2009 Istanbul Turkey: “Blogging Secrets: Tips for marketing your business online.”
For more information about costs, venue, topics, etc., please contact us at (02) 5660297 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hope to see you there!
This past Wednesday, July 8 I was privileged to be the “keynote speaker” (I find that term kind of amusing, thus the quotation marks) at IBM for the latest SSVN (
The challenge of talking to a large group about social media is trying to make sure that the information is not too overwhelming for the newbies, but at the same time is not too boring for the seasoned users. The feedback from the audience was pretty enthusiastic, so I hope I managed to reach that happy medium.
The talk covers recent landmark events on twitter, such as Dell reaching $3m in sales via twitter, the success of the Iran Election protesters who used twitter to bring their cause to the world, and some other events. We looked at strategies, tips and tools for creating an effective online presence.
Without further ado, here’s the presentation:
Have you ever wanted to follow what’s being said about a certain topic around the internet? Well, it’s not as hard as you think. Monitoring tools are the primary way to track buzz about a given topic online. For someone conducting an online social media marketing campaign this is especially true. To properly promote something, you have to continuously follow what people are saying about it. Monitoring tools can be broken into two primary categories:
- Background Tracking
- Conversation Tracking
One of the best social media monitoring tools is Google Alerts. With Google Alerts, you can receive weekly, daily, or even “as it happens” alerts whenever your search term is mentioned on the web.
Don’t be afraid to enter multiple phrases that mention your brand; this can only yield more and diverse results. In addition to delivering relevant links to articles, blogs, video, etc., Google Alerts is also a great spring board for learning more about where your brand is being spoken about.
Probably the best feature of this service is that you don’t have to keep checking for the most recent mentions on search engines. Having the alerts delivered directly into your inbox allows you to keep tabs on where you might want to comment on a blog post or follow the development of a news story.
The major drawback about Google Alerts is that it doesn’t cover social media sites, such as facebook. To become a part of the “conversation,” you must use monitoring tools that focus on discussions, media (such as video, audio, photos, etc.), and just about anything else. If you are conducting a social media campaign, you absolutely must know if people are already talking about your brand. Sites like Twitter, Digg, and YouTube are the some of the many featured sites on Addict-o-matic, which is the site to find “the latest buzz on any topic.”
Addictomatic screenshot via flickr from Maestro Alberto's photostream
Other sites such as Daylife and Silobreaker are also great for processing recent quotes, graphs, trends, and lists of recent articles or blogs that mentions your topic.
Long gone are the days of missing what someone said about you behind your back. Utilizing effective monitoring tools will help you to truly be part of the conversation in every corner of the web.
More and more studies are showing that internet users do not engage with conventional online ads. Users have developed a type of blindness to the flashing, blinking, google-type ads that clutter pages, and no matter how invasive and annoying the ads are, we have learnt to ignore them.
So marketers are desperately searching for new ways to advertise to customers, one of which is the strategy of authenticity. This is when marketers create a video, or some other marketing piece, that looks real but has actually been carefully staged.
In most cases, the marketer lets the user in on the secret by telling them that the ad is fake, either directly or with hints. However, one marketer recently was so successful that he duped the entire internet into believing that his piece was real, to the embarrassment of almost everybody involved.
13 year olds steals Dad’s credit card to buy hookers – NOT!
A popular story ran on May 9, 2008 on money.co.uk about a 13 year old boy who stole his Dad’s credit card and ordered two hookers with it, only to be convicted of fraud and given a three year community order. This story was so popular, it reached the front page of Digg. It was also covered in other leading social media sites, as well as several online publications, resulting in 6,000 links to the article.
Well, it turns out the story was a fake. The writer, Lyndon Antcliff, says that he tried to make it as ludicrous as possible so its fakeness would be obvious. The story is indeed ludicrous; here are some excerpts:
- The credit card company involved said it was regular practice to send extra credit cards out as long as all security questions are answered.
- The escort girls who were released without charge, told the arresting officers something was up when the kids said they would rather play Xbox than get down to business.
- Police said they were alerted to the motel by a concerned delivery clerk…delivering supplies of Dr Pepper, Fritos and Oreos…
- Ralph had reportedly told police that his father wouldn’t mind, as it was his birthday last week and he had forgot to get him a present. The father, a lawyer, said he had been too busy, but would take him on a surprise trip to Disneyland instead. [my bold]
The goal of the story was to get attention from social media sites, generate backlinks and increase rankings on search engines for keyword phrases like “Credit Card,” and draw in hundreds of thousands of visitors.
Now that we know it was fake, you can’t help but wonder how people bought the story. But anyone who follows the top stories on digg can tell you that this story is actually mild compared to some of the other true stuff posted there.
lonelygirl15 – the fake/real video blogger
This episode is similar to that of lonelygirl15, a series of video blogs by a 16 year old girl named Bree, that became extremely popular on YouTube. Bree even had a MySpace page:
At first, the videos covered normal, everyday subject matter, as the title character dealt with typical teenage angst (and the ridicule she received from her deformed cheekbones), but quickly morphed into a bizarre narrative that portrayed her dealings with secret occult practices within her family and included the mysterious disappearance of her parents after she refused to attend a “secret” ceremony prescribed by the leaders of the family’s cult. (from Wikipedia)
Fans began to wonder if Bree was real in August 2006, pointing to small inconsistencies within the videos as evidence that the story might not be genuine. Eventually it was revealed that the whole thing was staged.
Lying in advertising is not allowed – you cannot claim your product will do something that it cannot. The same should go for online reality advertising – ethical guidelines should be developed for “reality” marketing that ensure that users are informed that what they are viewing is not real.
But of course, what is real anymore? If France 2 TV can stage the al-Dura shooting and get away with it, then who’s to say what’s real and what’s not?
Here’s another example of “reality” marketing:
About a month ago I spoke at the Techshoret Conference for technical writers. Techshoret is an active mailing list for technical writers in Israel, but it includes many members from overseas as well. The people on the list are very supportive and helpful, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was one of the best email groups in the world for technical writers.
Techshoret holds an annual conference in Jerusalem, and I was invited to speak on the topic of Blogging and Social Media as Marketing Tools for Hi-Tech Companies since they decided to add some non-technical writing lectures to the mix.
My lecture covered case studies of businesses and their successes and failures in the blogosphere, and how the world of marketing is changing to the point where blogs and social media are a necessary part of today’s marketing strategy.
I promised the participants that I would upload my presentation, and here it is (finally)!
Hollywood on a Shoestring Budget
I am also including the great presentation given by Benjy Caplan who works at ECI Telecom. Benjy spoke about how to create great videos without being a professional videographer. His presentation was interesting because he explained how his company uses video as part of their user manuals. I think this is brilliant, because so many Israeli companies have overseas customers who don’t really speak English, and the best way to communicate in that situation is visually. In addition, his company saves the costs of sending technicians overseas to help clients by sending them help videos instead.
Benjy gave us one real example of how his company used a video to help clients in India install one of their products. The clients sent ECI a picture of their installation, which was a jumble of wires. Instead of sending technicians over to fix things up, Benjy produced an Oscar-worthy video with step-by-step visual instructions of where to put which wire.
With so many Israeli companies exporting overseas, I think many should learn from Benjy’s example and save themselves a lot of time and money by adding videos to their customer support services.
I know this is way overdue, but I actually have to work sometimes. So apologies.I already wrote a general overview of SphinnCon Israel. The next four posts will cover the sessions, and the information that I thought was most interesting and useful.
Barry Schwartz from Rusty Brick and Search Engine Roundtable kicked off the event with an introductory presentation. He explained that he was here for his nephew’s bar mitzvah, and the event was planned around that. So a big thanks to his nephew for being born 13 years ago. Also, as I mentioned in my previous post on SphinnCon Israel, he is hoping to hold a much bigger event, on the scale of SMX, in Tel Aviv.
Here is a summary of Barry’s introduction. Scroll down to see it in video:
Google’s secret for good SEO: good content
As I mentioned in my previous post, an Israeli Google representative in Dublin sent a little video to us to wish us luck at the conference. He gave us the official Google “secret” for getting good search engine results
- Good content
- Use Google Webmaster Tools to make sure your site is running properly.
The people on the panels seemed to think there’s a bit more one can do to rank better in the SERPs.
Paid Text Links
Matt Cutts went on record for the first time in September 2005 saying that he doesn’t like text links. In October 2006, he warned about a possible penalty for text links. The penalty came in Oct. 2007, when many bloggers and sites saw their PageRank drop.
Barry said that the Google toolbar shows a different page rank than Google actually uses in their algorithms. So it’s possible that you see a public PageRank of 4, but in fact your value according to Google may be higher or lower. So in fact, we could just ignore PageRank, and go along doing our best to build up our sites with good content.
PPC and Adwords
PPC is seeing steady inflation. The cost per keyword increased 25% over the past six months. Why?
- Click fraud, which is increasing. Click fraud in content networks is higher.
- More competition, which means more people don’t know what they’re doing and are bidding too high.
- General economic factors – things cost more.
- New PPC algorithms
Barry spoke a bit about things going viral, and said that the first ever viral success was the The Hamster Dance, a little video of dancing hamsters that was sent around via email. This brought to mind the most watched video on YouTube: The Evolution of Dance, which currently has been viewed over 74 million times. I think these two examples of what humans are attracted to is an interesting (worrying?) commentary on human nature.
That’s all for now. I hope I’ll get the next part up next week. Here are the videos:
And…The Evolution of Dance (I couldn’t resist)
As I wrote a few days ago, SphinnCon came to Israel this week on February 5 in the form of SphinnCon Israel. It turns out that this wasn’t only the first SphinnCon in Israel, but it was the first SphinnCon ever! So, this is yet another example of a first for Israel, kind of like how the first WordPress conference, WordCamp, to take place outside of the US took place in Israel.
I took extensive notes at each session, which I had planned to live-blog but couldn’t due to a minor technical difficulty: no wireless internet. I will post the summaries over the next few days, but in the meantime, here is a summary of the entire event, and some related links:
Sphinn is pronounced Spin
One of the most important lessons from this conference was that Sphinn is actually not pronounced Sfin, but Spin. Go figure.
Google sent greeting video from Dublin
After Barry Schwartz’s introductions, we got to see a video sent specially to us from Google in Dublin. Alon, the Google rep in the video, tells us how excited he is that SphinnCon has come to Israel, and he gave us an SEO tip straight from the Google guidebook: write good content. I can see how that tip is in Google’s interest, since they would love the web to be a big database of useful information that users are searching for, but after this conference it seems that there are a few other things you can do to promote your site too.
Anyways, here’s the video (Hebrew):
The food was delicious
I don’t know who the caterer was, but the food was great and plentiful. Did I hear you scoff? Food is important, excuse me.
This was a test event for something bigger next year
SphinnCon Israel was an attempt to test the waters to get an idea of the potential interest in a bigger SEO conference on the scale of SMX next year in Tel Aviv. From what I could see and from what the organizers told me, SphinnCon Israel was a huge success. The registration for the 165 spots quickly filled up, and they added another 15 seats, and were still getting requests from people to join! They barely advertised, and yet word-of-mouth spread the news quite quickly and widely.
In addition, the event succeeded despite the fact that it took place in Jerusalem. Don’t get me wrong – I love Jerusalem. But most technology-related events take place in Tel Aviv, which is the heart of Israel’s hi-tech sector. Tel Avivians aren’t big fans of coming to Jerusalem, and yet they came in droves, and more would have come if there had been room.
So hopefully this all means that we can look forward to a really great event next year!
The panels were excellent
There were three panels:
- SEO Panel: Paid Links & Penalties
- PPC Panel: Will the PPC Model Hold Up as Click Prices Rise?
- Social Panel: Should You Social?
I thought that the panels were done really well. Each panel began with a short presentation by one panelist, and then the rest of the session was made up of Q&A. This was a great format since it kept people’s attention, and ensured that the audience learned about issues that really interested them. I learned a lot, and the panels helped me take my jumble of knowledge on SEO and make some order of it, which I appreciated.
I didn’t go to the After Hours Party in Tel Aviv, but I’m sure it was nice too.
We got free t-shirts that said “The First SphinnCon Evar”
Yes, “Evar.” I think someone forgot to do a spell-check.
There were women in the audience…
Yes, the “no women on the panels” issue again. The organizers explained to me that they really tried to get women on the panels. I really don’t blame them for this. It seems to be a global problem: Jeremiah Owyang wrote about it recently on his blog, and the comments reflect the depth of the problem. See, for example, Lena West who says:
I simply DO NOT BUY the story that conference organizers give when they say there are no women available. I know how the game works. These â€˜organizersâ€™ ask the other speakers for recommendations and men refer other men. Thatâ€™s the deal. I just spoke at an event in Miami and I recommended three of the speakers. Heck, it makes a very busy job easier to just go on recommendationsâ€¦why wouldnâ€™t they?
Ok, nuf about that.
Related Links and Resources:
These links will help you get a picture of what the conference was like:
Panel Presentations (available for download in PDF format on the SphinnCon Israel page)
SphinnCon Israel 2008 Recap – this post has links to most of the blogs that wrote about the conference, and most of the flickr photos.
British Yosef’s photos (really professional)
Jerusalem College of Technology
The event organizers:
Third Door Media
Videos (from YBO Interactive):
(Top photo from British Yosef’s photos.)
SphinnCon Israel is sold out! SphinnCon Israel is a SphinnCon networking event focused on search and internet marketing, and is taking place this coming Tuesday, February 5 at the Jerusalem College of Technology (also known as Machon Lev). This event is exciting thanks to the incredible lineup, with representatives from well-known international companies like Google, TechCrunch, Kenshoo and Yedda (see my previous interview with Yedda’s Lior Haner, who will be speaking at the conference), and thanks to the location: Jerusalem! For once I don’t have to schlep to Tel Aviv for a great event, and I am thrilled.
There are also some really interesting reps from lesser-known but really professional Israeli companies: Tzvika Avnery will be there from Tagadam; Tzvika is a pro in the social media sphere and his company develops apps for social networks, among other things. Eli Feldblum from RankAbove will be there too; Eli is actually pretty well-known in the SEO world for his expertise, and his company services clients from all over the world. I’m mentioning these guys because I know them, but I hope I’ll get to meet the others on the panels too.
The main guy behind the whole thing is Barry Schwartz, the Executive Editor at Search Engine Roundtable, and President of RustyBrick, “a Web services firm specializing in customized online technology that helps companies decrease costs and increase sales.”
Here is the speaker list as from Barry’s latest post on the event at Search Engine Roundtable:
Here’s what’s not cool: not a woman in sight on the speaker list. Not one. It’s a celebration of testosterone. I’m not against testosterone, but it would be nice if it was toned down a bit by at least one representative from the other 51% of the human race. And it’s not like there aren’t impressive women in the industry: how about Tamar Weinberg, who works at Rusty Brick and writes the amazing Techipedia blog? Or Tzvika Avnery’s partner at Tagadam, Orly Izhaki, who has a really impressive background in web-related ventures, and writes at smo.co.il (Hebrew)? Don’t tell me they were unavailable as an excuse. I’m sure there’s at least one woman in the web industry who could have been available.
Anyways, I’m really looking forward to this event, and I’ll hopefully fill you all in on how it goes. If they have internet access, I may even Twitter and live-blog the event like a good lil’ social media geek should.
Commtouch, one of the world’s leading email spam fighters, has now officially launched their new corporate blog, Commtouch Cafe, which was built by none other than…illuminea (i.e. us)!
Founded in 1991 in Israel and publicly traded on the NASDAQ (CTCH), Commtouch’s technologies help companies avoid the rising costs of email spam by constantly monitoring, identifying and blocking new malware attacks. To accomplish this, the company analyzes the distribution patterns of billions of email messages per month. That’s quite a job.
The new blog, called Commtouch Cafe, aims to “show the face & voice of the people behind Commtouchâ€™s technology; share the type of informal information that [they] are exposed to daily just wandering the halls here, that might also interest our partner community or other spam/virus fighters; and have some fun.” This blog is the place to go if you want to keep up on the latest reports, figures and developments in the world of spam and malware.
Now I know they are my clients, so you probably should take what I have to say with a grain of salt, but this move by Commtouch into the world of social media marketing is very impressive for the following reasons:
- Commtouch is publicly traded. Many publicly traded companies cite the complicated compliance issues of stock exchanges as reasons not to have a blog. Commtouch saw the value of becoming part of the online conversation, and overcame any obstacles that they may have faced in order to do this.
- They also launched with a new viral video. Not only did Commtouch launch a blog, but they combined it with the launch of a cute animated video they made that is now on YouTube. (The video is below.)
- The content is written with a web audience in mind. Big corporations often speak in long expanses of corporate speak. The posts on Commtouch Cafe are short and contain a lot of visuals, like video and images.
- They are an Israeli company. Big Israeli companies in particular are still staying away from blogging. A notable exception is Answers.com, a large publicly traded company with an obscure and hard-to-find corporate blog (if you look up Answers.com blog, you won’t find it): no.stupid.answers. This blog is also pretty good – short, useful posts about questions and answers.
Congratulations to Commtouch on their entry into the world of social media, and may this signal the start of a new trend among Israeli companies!
Here’s the Commtouch video:
Burger King has hit viral video payday with their new Whopper Freakout viral video. In the video, customers at Burger King in Las Vegas are told that the Whopper has been discontinued. They are shocked and even outraged, or as the website puts it – they “freaked out.”Viral video success is basically about getting lots of people to talk about your thing, whatever it is. In this case, Burger King has succeeded since their videos on YouTube have been viewed thousands of times, and many people, myself now included, have written about their stunt.However, it’s one thing to get people to talk about your viral thing; it’s another to leave them with a good taste in their mouth (no pun intended!). I personally found this video hard to watch and offensive, but I’ve never been a fan of blooper-type videos where we all get to laugh at the expense of someone else. I personally think this video’s success is precisely because it allows the viewer to feel so smart that he or she knows the truth, while the person in the video is the butt of a good joke, and I’m not sure that this is the most effective way to achieve viral fame.But maybe it is. And anyways, there is one really good marketing lesson here that was pointed out by Easy Street Marketing: If you want to create buzz for your product, don’t let anyone have it.Robert Gorell at Future Now says that the Whopper Freakout was one the best TV + Web viral campaigns for the following reasons:
- The reactions.
- It’s “flame broiled,” not fried.
- The Whopper isn’t a new product or promotion.
- The King is a man of few words; he’s a prankster, but ultimately, he saves the day.
- A short TV commercial serves as a teaser, while the real payoff happens online.
- Their custom video player is grainy, making it feel voyeuristic and, somehow, more trustworthy.
- Even though they built their own site, they still put it on YouTube.
- It’s brilliantly filmed and choreographed.
- You can share it (email it, embed it).
- They didn’t have to do it.
- They did it.
- Unless you’re vegan, it kinda makes you crave a Whopper.
- “From what I understand, they were too popular.”
- It’s actually not a ridiculous stunt, unlike this.
In any case, it’s an interesting study in viral marketing, and the efforts by big corporations to spread the word via the web and with social media.
Read an interview with the video’s director Henry-Alex Rubin to get a look at the inside story, and how they set the whole thing up.
And of course, in the tradition of all things viral, here is yet another embedded instance of the video: