Google+ Hangouts: features, test drive, business applications
Consumer surveys: pay per response
Google Analytics – backlinks
Updated ad creator
Google ads vs. Facebook ads
Facebook marketing classroom
Social Readers on the fritz – yay!
New group file sharing feature
Comprehensive SEO for WordPress guide from SEOMoz
So.cl: Microsoft’s attempt at being part of the social networking scene. Twitter: New Twitter email design, same measly content YouTube: How to increase your video upload limit by verifying your account Pinterest: Flickr integration and Pin via Email. Pinterest is a success in e-Commerce WordPress: Comprehensive guide to SEO for WordPress; New plugins for managing unlimited WordPress sites.
and much, much more!
watch the May 2012 video
May 2012 slideshow
Join us on June 25
We invite you to join us in-person at illuminea Headquarters in Jerusalem or online via live streaming for our next webinar on Monday, June 25, 2012 at 10am. Signup and details here.
At the March 2012 Web Trends Webinar, Miriam Schwab, the Friendly CEO of illuminea, spoke about:
Google: Changes to the Google algorithm and semantic search, over-optimizing penalties, new rules for Google Places, new Google Analyics social reports, and that Firefox will use Google’s Secure Search which means even less keyword information in Analytics
Facebook: Facebook timelines for Pages – no more default landing tab…. unless you pay for an ad, Facebook timeline best practices, facebook admin panel changes, facebook Insights now include Mobile referrals, and a new facebook demo tool for ads
We invite you to join us in-person at illuminea Headquarters in Jerusalem or online via live straming for our next 1-hour Webinar on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 10am. Signup and details here.
A few days ago, Peter Shankman wrote a post lambasting all “social media experts” as irrelevant and worthy of dying in a fire. So Peter….you don’t like ‘em, eh?
But if you read through his post, it seems clear that he actually thinks that social media activity is important, he just doesn’t like the way it’s often done: he doesn’t like when marketers aren’t transparent, are irrelevant, can’t write, and don’t know their customer. Oh, and he also thinks marketers shouldn’t forget about the end goal of making money while engaged in all the social media coolness. Well, anyone who conducts marketing activities like that is not only a poor social media marketer; they are a terrible marketing professional and should find another profession. ASAP.
So let’s assume that most people involved in social media marketing on a professional level have half a brain and understand the basics of marketing: if the goal of marketing is to make money, is social media the way to go? Studies repeatedly show that the online marketing activities with the best ROI are search engine optimization (SEO) and email marketing. Social media comes in way after them. So how is the social media frenzy justified?
Social Media is the new Website
It is hard to prove that websites make money for companies. I don’t mean ecommerce sites, but sites that say who the company is, what they do, etc. Yes, these types of websites can be optimized for conversions, but in many cases they’re not. And even if they are, do the few clients who were directly and measurably converted by the website (i.e. they contacted the company via a form on the site and eventually became a customer) justify the costs of maintaining a good corporate site? The answer is yes: websites are important, and it’s accepted that every company and organization needs one. The reason for that is that it serves an important supportive role in sales – it’s an important stage that potential customers go through to assess whether a company is right for them. Social media marketing is approaching that same level – an important supportive element in marketing and sales, that potential customers, and existing customers, seek out.
Social Media Makes SEO and Email Marketing Better
Social media activity is increasingly being shown to be an importantsignal in a site’s ranking; it can also be a relatively large source of traffic to a site (which is generally the goal of SEO – to increase traffic to a site). Social media “outposts” can also help you increase your email marketing mailing list by encouraging people to sign up, and sharing past newsletters.
Social Media is the New “New”
Social media marketing is so new, and changing all the time (thanks facebook), that it’s impossible to know where it’s headed and what the potential really is. The only way to find out is to test, and then test some more. Like in every other area of online marketing, discovering new opportunities demands a few brave souls who are willing to risk their marketing budget and take the plunge. They’re definitely not idiots: they’re trailblazers. They should be applauded, not ridiculed. This is a necessary part of innovation.
Social media is not just a cool new toy – it’s a new and important part of the web. And people who understand it – as part of the online marketing mix – will be hired.
We’re always on the lookout for interesting uses of social media by companies and organizations, and right now there are two groups on Facebook using photos as part of extensive social media campaigns. One is the Inbal Hotel, which is holding a contest whereby the person with the best photos of Jerusalem wins a night for two at the hotel (pick me, pick me!). The second is Nefesh b’Nefesh, with their “This is my Israel” photo contest. Read on to learn more about how each of these organizations is using photos and social media to engage people with their brands.
Inbal Hotel – the first in their field
Inbal Hotel Facebook photo contest
It’s easy to jump on the social media bandwagon once it’s already moving, but to be the first to get the bandwagon going in your field can feel a little daunting. As far as I know, the Inbal, a hotel in Jerusalem, is the first Israeli hotel to really go all the way, social media speaking. From their gung-ho presence “all over” Facebook and Twitter, it’s easily apparent that Ruth Waiman, the enthusiastic Executive Assistant along with Online Marketing Manager Pinny Orzach, the SEO/SEM person, have been given the OK to really give social media a try.
It really is a risk when a company decides to put a substantial amount of employee hours towards a social media presence. There could be growing pains when a conventional company puts itself out there in the world of social media. Often there is a slight image change as the company shows itself to be more hip and young through their social media presence.
You’ve got to be at least a little creative and really quite proactive to keep your social media presence alive and well. It’s not just about posting, “The chef is now cooking duck for dinner.” It’s about being cool, fun and interactive.
The Inbal Hotel’s latest photograph competition is exactly that – cool, fun and interactive. Actually, the beauty of their competition is that it isn’t about the Inbal. It’s about Jerusalem. You can enter the competition by posting up to three photographs you’ve taken of Jerusalem on their Facebook wall. At the end of October the best photograph will be chosen and the winner will get a night for two at the hotel.
When I wrote to Ruth about their latest contest, she explained:
To further boost our interactions on Facebook on both English and Hebrew walls, the photo competition was launched and has been receiving enthusiastic feedback from the outset.
Having now received close to 80 photos on the combined pages, we’ve definitely noticed an increase of fans and interactions and are hoping to involve external photography professionals for the judging due to take place early next month.
Ruth also mentioned all the events they’ve been hosting at the hotel, including the WordCamp afterparty (which we, as the WordCamp organizers, are really grateful for) at the beginning of September.
Nefesh B’Nefesh’s “This is my Israel” Campaign
Nefesh B'Nefesh This is My Israel campaign
Slightly before the Inbal’s competition commenced, Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN), the organization that supports Jews who move to Israel, started a photo contest on their facebook page. To participate in this competition, people were requested to take a picture of themselves holding a sign that says “This is my ISRAEL” somewhere in Israel. The place where they are photographed should be one that they see as truly representing Israel for them.
Also, a fun campaign that is not about the actual organization behind the campaign, but instead about “you” and Israel.
What a wonderful use of social media to get people involved in an organization and, of course, more connected to each other and Israel.
It is currently voting time on the NBN campaign so you can go to the album and click “like” on your favourites. The winning photographer will receive a Flip video camera. Sweet.
Goals and drawbacks
The main goals of campaigns of this kind are exposure and building a certain image and relationship with your followers. As long as your campaign really is, as I said, fun, cool and interactive, and not all about you, the image and relationship aspects will probably be fine. The only problem with these types of contests is that if you want to participate in the contest, you might hesitate telling others about it since the last thing you need is more competition!
(Of course that brings up the question, why am I writing about it here if I plan on entering the Inbal contest? I suppose my blogging addiction is stronger than my “I need to win” attitude.)
Otherwise, both of these contests are a great and fun use of Facebook.
And here are my pictures
So yes, I plan to enter three of my pictures in the Inbal competition. Here are the photographs I’m considering. Which ones do you think could be winners? Help me choose! I really could use a night in a fancy hotel.
We don’t have a fax machine in our office. From the beginning I decided that we would withstand the pressure and insist that people email documents to us so that we can be a mostly paperless office. Yes, I know that there are fax services that will deliver faxes to your inbox, but in that case why not just use email? And for those that think that there’s no way to get a piece of paper to someone remotely without a fax machine, I’d like to introduce you to a handy device called the scanner.
We have so many ways to communicate online today: email, facebook, twitter…there are even people talking about how communication via social networks will push out email communication. I think that’s an extreme point of view, and email’s not going anywhere, but the point is: get rid of your fax. It deserves to be in the same place as your record player, dot matrix printer, and fluorescent slouch socks (I shudder when I think of how we wore those).
And since Dilbert agrees with me, we know that what I say is Truth:
Ikea Sweden got some goodcoverage yesterday for a facebook campaign it ran to promote the opening of a new store in Malmo, Sweden. The company wanted to promote the opening of the new branch, but their budget was limited. They hired an advertising agency called Forsman and Bodenfors, who came up with the idea of using Facebook’s photo tagging feature to create a viral effect that would spread word of the new branch opening.
Forsman and Bodenfors opened a facebook profile for the branch’s manager, Gordon Gustavsson. The profile was to be used for business purposes only, as is evidenced by the vanity URL chosen for Gustavsson’s profile: http://www.facebook.com/ikeagordon – note that his vanity URL is ikeagordon, and not gordongustavsson. Better hope he works at Ikea forever…
Over a two week period, the agency uploaded pictures from Ikea showrooms to Gustavsson’s facebook photo album, and then made the announcement that changed this from run-of-the-mill social media activity to a raging campaign: they announced that whoever was the first person to tag a product in the pictures with their name would win it. And boy did people rush to tag the photos:
Check out this video overview of the campaign and how it was set up:
Why this campaign worked
The coverage of this campaign focused on the agency’s ingenious use of facebook’s photo tagging feature. It definitely was an original and unique use of this feature of the world’s largest social network. However, in my opinion that usage is just technical, and the reason this campaign was so successful is because it delivered what consumers want when engaging online with brands: exclusive deals or offers.
Digital marketing company Razorfish recently released its third annual FEED study which charts how technology is changing the way consumers engage with brands. Among the other interesting pieces of info gleaned from their study is the reasoning behind people’s choice to follow a brand on twitter and facebook. In the cases of both networks, the majority of people cited that they follow brands in order to get “exclusive deals or offers.”
It makes sense. Unless your brand is Apple or something that makes people feel all warm and fuzzy, consumers don’t want to be your brand’s “friend.” They may like your product and use it on a regular basis, but that doesn’t mean they want to create an ongoing and public relationship with you…unless there’s something really worthwhile that’s in it for them. In the case of this Ikea campaign, people were more than happy to tag and share photos of Ikea showrooms if it meant that they would get to take a couch home for free.
Another example of success through rewarding consumers is br.st. br.st is a new web-based twitter client that became one of the top trending topics on twitter yesterday as well:
While I’m sure this new twitter client is nice, it didn’t get this level of exposure because of their great features. They got it because they are handing out 4 MacBook Pros and 21 Nintendo Wiis to people who tweet about br.st. As br.st CEO Jared Stauffer says on the site’s home page:
Instead of spending money on advertising we decided to give it to you in the form of prizes. So help spread the word by telling your friends and enter to win some cool prizes.
In fact, most of their home page is dedicated to the contest, as opposed to reasons why you should use br.st. Take a look at the following screen shot of their home page – out of all the screen real estate, only the grey box on the right refers to why you should give br.st a try:
While br.st may have gone to the extreme with their prize campaign, it did succeed in getting them a lot of viral exposure for a new product.
Recipe for social media success: viral + free stuff
Many social media evangelists talk about how the social networks can help you and your brand create warm and fuzzy relationships with your consumers. It’s not true. Consumers don’t want a warm and fuzzy relationship with most businesses or products. But they will help you spread the word if you offer them something really worthwhile in return, like a free couch or Ninento Wii. So by combining the features on the social networks that have the potential to make your brand or campaign viral with consumers’ base interest in free stuff, you’ve got a great recipe for social media success.
So you’re wondering how you can use PayPal in Israel? Does PayPal accept Shekels? Can you withdraw your PayPal funds to your Israeli bank account? Etc. As you often do when in doubt, you head over to Google and type in “PayPal Israel” to see what the web has to say about your questions. If you are located in Israel, here are approximately what the results will look like:
See results number 3 and 4? That’s us. Where’s PayPal or PayPal Israel? Nowhere to be seen.
Ranking high for this term was an accident for us. We happen to have published two blog posts on the subject of using PayPal in Israel over the past year, and as you can see the web is not exactly saturated with good content on this topic, so it was an easy score.
The funny thing is that as a result, people have begun to perceive illuminea as PayPal Israel experts. We get at least one phone call and/or email from people with questions about using PayPal in Israel about once a week.
PayPal Israel is missing an opportunity
Although PayPal officially serves the Israeli community, the amount of information available online about using PayPal in Israel is meager at best and confusing at worst, and the amount of people with questions is huge as is evidenced by the number of them contacting us with their PayPal questions.
I must give credit to Nissim Ohayon, Sr. Business Development Manager at PayPal Israel, who wrote a post on our blog about using PayPal in Israel, and even took the time to answer the many questions posed by readers in the comments.
However – maybe this is a sign that PayPal and/or PayPal Israel needs its own blog? PayPal should be engaging in the conversation, providing solid and timely information. I suspect that PayPal could win quite a lot of Israeli clients if it provided a minimum standard of online customer support.
Twitter’s great, but it can never take the place of the blog
This accidental positioning of our company as experts in the field of PayPal use in Israel demonstrates the strength and importance of blogging.
Twitter is all the rage these days, and people have even questioned whether twitterwill take the place of the blog. The truth is, many people, myself included, are blogging less because they are spending more time on twitter. However, with all the value that twitter provides let nobody tell you that it can replace the power of blogging.
A blog allows you to present an idea and follow through on it. You cannot do that in 140 characters. (Can you imagine this post as a tweet? Let’s try: “illuminea appears #3 & 4 in Google SERPS for term PayPal Israel thanks 2 our blog. PayPal not even on 1st page. Lesson: keep blogging”. Not too bad!) In addition, it offers loads of content for search engines to index and present to users in their results. Yes, tweets do appear in search results but less than blog posts, and also with a strange sort of randomness.
Also, a blog gives you your own place on the web. The content you create on facebook or twitter helps prop up those networks. The content you create on your blog helps prop up your own place on the web.
So don’t bury blogging yet. It’s still the foundation of any online marketing activity you undertake, whether it’s SEO, PPC, email, or social media. It’s on your blog that you have a chance to convert users in whatever way you hope to do so.
In the meantime, we’re happy to answer your PayPal questions as best as we can so don’t let this post stop you from contacting us! And keep blogging!
This past Wednesday (July 15, 2008) I presented at an ISOC Israel event on the topic of day-to-day use of social media. My presentation was about personal branding, why one would want to create a personal brand online, and how to go about doing so.
In the past, creating a personal brand was solely the domain of celebrities. However, today everyone can create their own “brand,” thanks to the proliferation of online networks where one can create a branded profile, and blogs which allow owners to present their knowledge in a useful and accessible manner.
Aside from being good for one’s ego, why would people want to create their own personal brand? The reason is that it can give you a serious edge in today’s competitive business world, whether you want to secure the future of your career or promote your business. By creating quality focused content on your own blog, which you then promote via the social networks like facebook and twitter in order to increase your reach, you can position yourself as an expert in your field and even build up a community around your knowledge.
There are a number of factors involved in creating a personal brand online, but they generally boil down to the following:
Authenticity – Be yourself. Many people think that their personality is not great, and therefore they try to fake it both online and offline. Don’t. Your personality is what makes you unique and plays an important role in your UPS (Unique Selling Point). Embrace it, don’t fight it. Plus, it’s hard to keep up a facade of a personality that isn’t really you over the long-term, and people will pick up that something’s not quite right.
Consistent look and feel - carefully select the image you will use to represent yourself online; use consistent colors, fonts etc.
Quality content - create quality content on your blog about the topic you have chosen to focus on. Set up your facebook and twitter profile to automatically publish links to your content on your blog.
Building up a relevant community – find and friend/follow others who share similar interests and/or could be good leads for your business.
Continue your brand offline – make sure your offline activity, personality, and even appearance are in sync with your online brand, and vice versa. We all love the web, however nothing can ever replace the importance and impact of face-to-face meetings, so plan to spread your personal brand offline as well.
Rinse and repeat.
The presentation is below. Note that it’s mostly in Hebrew. Let me know what you think in the comments.
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 Startups & Societal Ventures Network) event.
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.
Running a small business involves wearing many hats. illuminea blog aims to encourage a lively discussion on the challenges and rewards of running and marketing a small business in general, and in Israel in particular. Written by Miriam Schwab, Friendly CEO of illuminea.
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