How do you meet prospects online?

My long time professional colleague, friend and equally crazy about social media pal Sheryl Brown hits the nail in the head with this magnificent post about the art and science of prospecting online. I love how she breaks it down into 3 key steps… 1. The reach 2. The greeting 3. The value-add. This is a very simple but effective way to meet your prospects online. Way to go Sheryl! Here’s the full blog post so you can get all the details!

@BIONICsocialite

Financial Services Is Prospecting Online Like Finding a Unicorn

In any given week, I’m asked about the prospecting potential in the social space and how do I meet the people I want to do business with online? I feel like the answer should be something magical like unicorns and gnomes, but it comes down to something quite basic: I reach out, say “hello” and provide them with something they can use and then…wait.

No pixie dust, sorry

It really is that simple. Granted, there is some follow-up after the initial contact, but the foundation of anything I’ve ever done online starts with the reach, the greeting and the value-add. I will go into some specifics of what I do and then you can modify for your day-to-day needs.

The Reach

I remember when Eminem came out with a song called, “My name is…” Regardless if you like his music or not, the song made millions on lyrical genius which…

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Google Tops the list of “Nielsen’s Tops of 2011: Digital”

According to the report from Nielsen released Dec 28th, 2011, Google was the most-visited US online brand with over 153 Million unique visitors per month, Facebook came in second and Yahoo came in third. YouTube led the way as the top US online destination for video.

Check out the rest of the results: http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/online_mobile/nielsens-tops-of-2011-digital/

Top 10 U.S. Web Brands in 2011
Rank Web Brand Avg # of Unique Visitors (000)per month
1 Google 153,441
2 Facebook 137,644
3 Yahoo! 130,121
4 MSN/WindowsLive/Bing 115,890
5 YouTube 106,692
6 Microsoft 83,691
7 AOL Media Network 74,633
8 Wikipedia 62,097
9 Apple 61,608
10 Ask Search Network 60,552

Read more at blog.nielsen.com
Source: Nielsen
Data from January – October 2011, Home and Work Computers. Ranked on average monthly unique audience.
Read as: During 2011, 153.4 million U.S. people, on average, visited Google sites from home and work computers

Key Social Media Trends to Look for in 2012

2012 will certainly bring it’s share of new technologies and innovations that will continue to drive the growth and usability of Social Media Platforms. Below is a sampling of some of the major trends that we can look forward to in the coming year as reported by Joseph Puopolo – Tech Crunch

Joseph Puopolo
Sunday, January 15th, 2012
62 Comments
Editor’s note: Guest contributor Joseph Puopolo is an entrepreneur and start-up enthusiast, who blogs on a variety of topics including green initiatives, technology and marketing.
In 2011, social media had its share of growing pains. Large brands and corporations took to social media in force to try to find footing in this expanding medium. Some brands found success, while others found peril and new PR nightmares. One person who has helped brands navigate the proverbial social media minefield is Amy Jo Martin. She is the founder of Digital Royalty, a social media firm that has set itself apart by helping A-listers find their social media voice.
Amy works with people like Dana White of the UFC, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson of acting/WWE fame and brands like Nike and Fox Sports (and now Joel Stein). Her specialty is working with organizations or individuals and making them look good online. Since the online world is in perpetual flux, I wanted to get Amy’s take on the social media landscape for 2012.
Here were a few key trends Amy said we should look out for in 2012:
1. Social TV Integration
Many shows have already begun to integrate social TV, either through polling or integrating social elements within the show. See my example of how both the UFC and WWE are integrating social media into their programming. Social media played a pivotal role in the last presidential election, and it will likely be more integrated into political broadcasts.
As each news channel fights hard to keep their viewers engaged, networks like CNN and Fox have made significant strides to engage their audience, although some would argue that this social media integration has come at the expense of hard-hitting journalism and analysis.
2. TV Is Going Online in a Big Way
2012 will be the first time that the Super Bowl will be streamed live to the world. Since the Super Bowl is generally viewed as the mother of all advertising spectacles, it will add a new dynamic into the digital component to advertising and social media integration.
3. Facebook Credits Take Center stage
Facebook in 2012 has the potential to project its power and truly take Facebook credits into a viable currency. Amy puts it quite well when she says “they’re building an online destination we’ll never need to leave, and my guess is they’re only about 8% of the way through their product roadmap.”
4. Big Business Has Woken Up
The way corporate entities approach social media is shifting. Many companies realize that setting up Twitter, YouTube and Facebook accounts is not going to cut it as their social media strategy. Brands will need to seriously shift their perspective by treating social channels more like communication channels and less like an advertising channels in order to make a difference. From my perspective this transition has already occurred, judging by the extent to which brands’ Twitter accounts are now used as channels for CRM and customer support, managing pissed off or happy customers in near realtime.
5. ROI Is Still Huge
ROI will remain a key metric to any social media strategy. The concept of engagement is now becoming more and more an excepted metric. CEO adoption of social media is improving, and more CEOs are recognizing the benefits of humanizing their brand by taking to Twitter.
Customer service, research and image branding could all be considered social media intangibles, yet all three are obviously important in business. Social channels impact every single aspect of business from human relations to finance, sales, operations and legal. It’s important for everyone to understand how social media affects their role and responsibilities. Opposite of television, social media is a dialogue vs. a monologue and if a brand is able to collect opinions real-time in high volume via social channels like Facebook polls, they can save a great deal of money on formal research studies.
There have been a lot of discussions about social media fatigue and whether brands refuse to play for that reason. With over a billion people on social media it’s irresponsible for any brand not to have some sort of presence. 2012 will be the year for brands to go beyond cookie cutter campaigns and really determine how it not only adds value to their company, but how it adds value for their customers. 2012 will be crucial for companies and social media. For those who don’t see a direct correlation between social media and sales consider:
“Social media is an ideal tool for moving people up the fan ladder, from being a casual fan of a brand to a loyalist, because the communication channels allow people to build stronger emotional connections with brands.”
So in 2012, the question is, how will your brand use effective strategy to move people up the fan ladder from interested to foaming at the mouth brand zealots?
Excerpt image from 4socialmediaconsulting
Tags: social media, Amy Jo Martin
Read more at techcrunch.com
 

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Strengths Finder 2.0 – This was such an interesting book!

Strengths Finder 2.0

My GM recently asked the Marketing Team to read the book Strengths Finder 2.0, after reading the book and doing the online exercise I found the results to be truly remarkable and very accurate! Below is the summary of the results:

My Top 5 Strengths

1 Futuristic
2 Achiever
3 Learner
4 Self-Assurance
5 Ideation
These 5 “Themes” are what the book and exercise identified as my core strengths. I have to say they are very accurate and each one is clearly visible in my life and career. Below is a more detailed description of each Theme.
Futuristic
People who are especially talented in the Futuristic theme are inspired by the future and what could be. They inspire others with their visions of the future.
Your Personalized Strengths Insights
What makes you stand out?
By nature, you are typically enthused about what you can accomplish in the coming months, years, or decades. Your ability to think about the future naturally feeds your desire to be the very best. Instinctively, you are energized by your plans for the coming months, years, or decades. Bringing your ideas to life is an exciting proposition for you. You sense you have the power to transform whatever you think is possible into tangible outcomes. Because of your strengths, you treasure the one-on-one conversations you have with visionary thinkers. Their ideas can force you to expand on your plans for the future. Chances are good that you frequently share your vision about the coming years or decades with other forward-looking thinkers. You cannot refrain from talking about all the things human beings can create or accomplish in the future. Driven by your talents, you are a visionary thinker. Your vivid mental images of the coming months, years, or decades often impel you to move into action.
Achiever
People who are especially talented in the Achiever theme have a great deal of stamina and work hard. They take great satisfaction from being busy and productive.
Your Personalized Strengths Insights
What makes you stand out?
Because of your strengths, you probably work diligently, persevering to the very end. You are gratified when people tell others you are a competent, trustworthy, and accomplished individual. Instinctively, you probably expend a lot of energy to hold back your tears. You worry that individuals will think poorly of you when they see you cry. It’s very likely that you place a premium on acquiring various kinds of knowledge and skills. You see definite links between your hard work and your accelerated growth as a person or as a professional. Chances are good that you probably have a reputation for working hours and hours when the assignment adds special meaning to your work, studies, or life in general. Driven by your talents, you might want to be the very best in certain fields or activities. Maybe you realize that excellence is the result of not only hard work, but also of top quality materials and people. This partially explains why you devote yourself to some activities but not to others.
Learner
People who are especially talented in the Learner theme have a great desire to learn and want to continuously improve. In particular, the process of learning, rather than the outcome, excites them.
Your Personalized Strengths Insights
What makes you stand out?
Because of your strengths, you might place a high value on seeking and gathering specific kinds of information. Perhaps your need to be informed motivates you to acquire knowledge so you are as smart as you want to be about certain subjects. Chances are good that you may appreciate opportunities to acquire knowledge, gain skills, or experience new things. Perhaps you refuse to let your mind grow dull by being complacent — that is, smug or self-satisfied. By nature, you probably register for the most difficult rather than the easiest classes. You likely take courses from teachers who have a reputation for being tough and demanding. You ordinarily have great faith in your ability to earn the top grade in these instructional situations. It’s very likely that you may thirst for new ideas and knowledge. Sometimes you dive into your reading with abandon. Other times you lose yourself in a book. Maybe you pore over the thoughts contained in its pages for long stretches of time. Why? You might want to absorb as much information as you can. Driven by your talents, you have little difficulty giving intense effort to projects, problems, or opportunities that capture and keep your attention.
Self-Assurance
People who are especially talented in the Self-Assurance theme feel confident in their ability to manage their own lives. They possess an inner compass that gives them confidence that their decisions are right.
Your Personalized Strengths Insights
What makes you stand out?
Because of your strengths, you are likely to be a team member in some cases and the team leader in other instances. The role you play probably reflect the demands of the current situation. Instinctively, you seem willing to take chances. You frequently venture into unknown territory when that can make the difference between capturing first place and finishing in second or third place. It’s very likely that you like advancing on your own. You enjoy defying the odds. You find limited satisfaction in pursuing the easiest, the most popular, or the accepted course of action. Driven by your talents, you occasionally adopt a practical, factual, or unemotional position on certain issues. Maybe you refrain from becoming sentimental about certain people and their problems. Chances are good that you are attracted to difficult and challenging endeavors. You are not inclined to look for the easy way out. You are bold. You take risks. You dare to stretch your mind. You test the limits of your abilities in ways that timid individuals would not attempt.
Ideation
People who are especially talented in the Ideation theme are fascinated by ideas. They are able to find connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.
Your Personalized Strengths Insights
What makes you stand out?
By nature, you sometimes break certain types of daily, weekly, monthly, or annual activities into their basic parts. Now and then, you examine these separately and in relation to one another. Perhaps you devise labor-saving ways to perform some repetitive tasks. Once you have explained your systems to others, you might expect everyone to use them for the common good. Periodically you are frustrated by individuals who insist on doing things their way or the old way. Maybe you can predict with some accuracy how their resistance will jeopardize the group’s overall effectiveness or efficiency. Chances are good that you tune in to people and figure out what they are saying and thinking about you. You are acutely aware of how individuals regard you. You probably curry — that is, try to win — the favor of some and seek to impress others. It’s very likely that you generate ideas quickly. You draw clever linkages between facts, events, people, problems, or solutions. You present others with numerous options at a pace some find dizzying. Your innovative thinking tends to foster ongoing dialogue between and among the group’s participants. Instinctively, you enjoy spending time with possibility thinkers. This is often the case when they present intriguing ideas that no one else has considered. You enjoy exploring the fascinating frontiers of medicine, politics, fashion, renewable energy sources, humanitarian aid, or the arts. Driven by your talents, you are acutely aware of how your teammates perceive your abilities. You can sense what they think of you as a person. These insights many times allow you to earn their confidence so you can contribute even more to the group’s success.
Final Thoughts:
After reading Strengths Finder 2.0 I feel that I have a better sense of myself, the book didn’t really identify new things for me but it really helped to solidify core values and strengths that I already knew existed within me. What really shocked me was that after filling out aprox 170 questions, the answers were analyzed and processed to come up with the top 5 themes and boy were they right! I guess after millions of interviews, 10s of millions of data points, and tons of research the team at Gallup has this processed nailed down to a science. Kudos to them! They definitely get a strong recommendation from me, and I’m looking forward to “Future” developments from the team, I definitely want to continue to “Learn” so I can “Achieve” my goals and develop new creative “Ideas” for new things to come! 🙂

Why Content Marketing is King

Amplify’d from www.entrepreneur.com

Why Content Marketing Is King

BY Mikal E. Belicove|
October 20, 2011|

163

Why Content Marketing Is KingWhen it comes to marketing strategies, content marketing has just been crowned king, far surpassing search engine marketing, public relations and even print, television and radio advertising as the preferred marketing tool for today’s business-to-business entrepreneur.

Why Content Marketing Is King

Late this summer, HiveFire, a Cambridge, Mass.-based internet marketing software solutions company, surveyed nearly 400 marketing professionals about the state of the business-to-business, or B2B, market, and discovered that marketers are retreating from traditional marketing tactics such as search marketing and have made content marketing the most-used tactic in their brand-enhancing tool box. Fact is, according to HiveFire’s B2B Marketing Trends Survey Report, twice as many B2B marketers now employ content marketing as they do print, TV and radio advertising, according to the survey.

So what exactly is content marketing? It’s the creation and publication of original content — including blog posts, case studies, white papers, videos and photos — for the purpose of generating leads, enhancing a brand’s visibility, and putting the company’s subject matter expertise on display. HiveFire’s researchers found that an impressive 82 percent of B2B marketers now employ content marketing as a strategy in their marketing programs. Coming in at a distant second place is search engine marketing at 70 percent, followed by events at 68 percent, public relations at 64 percent and print/TV/radio advertising at 32 percent.

Seventy-eight percent of respondents said driving sales and leads was the top marketing goal of their organization, followed by boosting brand awareness and establishing or maintaining thought leadership (both at 35 percent). Another 28 percent said their primary goal was to increase web traffic and 24 percent said it was to improve search results.

Part of the popularity of content marketing is its ability to generate qualified leads while engaging prospects in a branded environment without busting the budget. Nearly half of the content marketers interviewed said they dedicate less than a third of their budgets to such marketing expenditures. In addition to frugality, B2B marketers also believe most of their customers and prospects are online, which is why they’re focusing their marketing efforts on the Internet.

Finally, the survey shows that “content curation” — which is defined as the process of finding, organizing and sharing content — continues to gain strength as a top marketing strategy, up 17 percent from six months ago. Seen as a way for marketers to fuel their marketing programs, content curation does have its problems. Nearly 70 percent of content curators say lack of time hinders their efforts, with 66 percent saying a lack of original and quality content is a major drawback. Another 38 percent say difficulty in measuring results is the stumbling block and 37 percent say lack of staff to do the work is the hindrance.

Despite these issues, the survey makes clear that content marketing is only going to become more important going forward, whether you market to other businesses or to the public at large.

Read more at www.entrepreneur.com

 

The next generation of the Social Network… in 3D!

I’ve been saying it for quite some time… the next generation social network will take the flat 2 dimensional environment currently available on Facebook and Twitter, and turn it into a 3Dimensional environment that will more closely resemble a real time social experience.

This evolution is already underway as explained by Mark Jeffrey in his most recent article titled “The Return of Real-Time Social Environments” – Mashable. As he mentions there are already apps available that can be used with Facebook and Twitter. These apps can integrate with your existing social networks so that you can invite your friends to share in these experiences. One of these examples is Shaker.

Created as a Facebook app, Shaker lets users enter an environment that resembles a bar. You can see and interact with other avatars that look like mannequins. Users can chat, dance, give other users virtual drinks, see which of your Facebook friends are nearby and invite them to join the fun.

To me this idea is only the beginning, you will eventually see fully blown social networks that are designed from the ground up to have this 3dimensional experience built in. You will also see this evolution continue to develop within the existing social network infrastructure, specially since Facebook and Twitter already have the masses actively participating.

One example that I mentioned in a previous blog post would be for a video content provider like Netflix or a movie studio to create an environment where a member can invite his or her friends to go watch a movie, there would be a virtual movie theater where everybody could join in on the fun. The experience of renting a movie and watching it online can now extend from an individual experience typically had in the home to one that will be online with many other users. This will obviously have to be monetized so each guest will have to pay a fee for their movie ticket. The benefit to the content provider is that the content is delivered once to a group of people who can then share in the experience together. The advantage to the user is that he or she can now have more fun watching that video content with his or her friends.

Similar opportunities and environments can be created for other content providers like game developers, can you imagine playing a role playing game like Doom or Mass Effect where your friends can also join in and play in real time within a virtual Game Room of your favorite social network? The possibilities are endless… More to come as I explore this idea further and come up with more cool ideas for the next Social Network.

Amplify’d from mashable.com
Mark Jeffrey
5 hours ago by Mark Jeffrey


3

Max Jeffrey is a serial entrepreneur, podcaster and novelist. He co-founded ThisWeekIn.com, ZeroDegrees, SuperSig and The Palace and is currently writing the sequel to Max Quick: The Pocket and the Pendant (HarperCollins, 2011).

The last few months have seen an explosive resurgence in real-time environments, last popular in the late ’90s. The interesting thing is that this new zeitgeist seems to have taken root in multiple places within the space of a few short weeks.

I’ve seen this all before: I was one of the founders of an avatar chat company called The Palace, Inc. back in 1995. Although quite popular (10 million users at its peak in 1998), The Palace never found a revenue stream that worked. As Jake Winebaum once told me, Palace was a phenomenon, not a business. He was right. But that was then, and this is now.

The New Real-Time Landscape

Let’s examine a few examples. Avatar-based chat room Shaker took the gold two weeks ago at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. Created as a Facebook app, Shaker lets users enter an isometric environment that resembles a bar. You can see and interact with other fully articulated avatars that look like mannequins. Users can chat, dance, give other users virtual drinks, see which of your Facebook friends are nearby and invite them to join the party. There is no “point” to Shaker interaction; it’s simply fun and engaging.

Then, there’s the twin phenomenon of Turntable.fm and Chill.com. Turntable lets you enter a virtual room (again with an avatar) and either DJ yourself or listen to other users select music. Chill is much the same idea, only it showcases YouTube videos or real-time streamed events. The idea behind both is shared media consumption while chatting with friends as you watch or listen together. If you recall the ’90s show Mystery Science Theatre 3000, you’ll know what I mean.

Worlize.com is perhaps the most Palace-like of the real-time spaces. Allowing for custom avatar uploads and creation of user-owned spaces, Worlize has the expressiveness, color and “aliveness” that made the Palace tick. You can invite your friends to join from Facebook or via a tweeted link. Worlize also allows for a few tricks: embedded YouTube windows and a live feed from your webcam as an avatar option.

Google Hangouts mostly centered on video party-lines wherein users could watch YouTube videos together. And with the most recent upgrade to Google+, shared whiteboards and shared desktops were added. Clearly, Google felt that the real-time environment is where the action is.

Real-Time Tech Has Come of Age

So what’s going on here? Why now, and not back then?

One of the largest challenges we faced back in the ‘90s with these environment

But now, Turntable.fm sends me email whenever one of the DJ’s I follow starts spinning virtual vinyl. And with the Facebook and Twitter integration of all these environments, rallying up an online party is not all that difficult anymore — they’re virtual flashmobs.

One of the largest challenges we faced back in the ‘90s with these environments was getting people to show up at the same time. I can’t tell you how many times I saw a Palace avatar materialize, look around at the empty room and dematerialize — only to have someone else materialize minutes later. There was no way to synchronize people’s participation.

We also faced significant technical challenges back then. The Palace and its competitors required hefty standalone clients or huge Netscape plugins crowbarred into the browser. The frequent changing of avatars, room art and real-time games meant a central server needed to coordinate a large flow of information. The “lag,” as it came to be known, destroyed the illusion of being in a space with other people. Now bandwidth is cheap, content delivery networks deliver art assets quickly, and Twitter and Facebook newsfeeds have pointed the way to solutions once unimaginable.

Lastly, real-time business models have changed significantly over the years. We had three choices with the Palace: charge for the software (nobody wanted to pay because “everything’s free on the Internet!”), charge for registration codes and “extras” (same objection) or charge for advertising. In the ‘90s, however, successful advertising on webpages was akin to sorcery, let alone advertising inside this weird little universe of speech balloons and downloadable clients. We couldn’t convince anyone to advertise at volume.

But again: that was then, and this is now. Zynga and others have shown that the purchase of in-world virtual products to “pimp” your farm, castle, mafia hideout or avatar is a highly lucrative business. Chill is already experimenting with “appointment viewing” of real-time net shows. Recently, the company experimented with This Week In Venture Capital. Finally, I profess that I’ve increased my iTunes purchases thanks to all the new music I’ve discovered within Turntable.fm rooms.

Why Now?

Back to the original question: Why is now the right time for real-time? Why has it grabbed the collective imagination at this exact moment? Simply, it is the last great frontier in social media. It is the logical extension of an already powerful trend.

We’ve been heading this way for some time. First we had Geocities — basically static shrines to this or that topic. Then we had static profiles in Ryze and Friendster and MySpace. Better, but still stale over time. Then Facebook and Twitter materialized, making near-synchronous feeds ubiquitous. It wasn’t quite real-time, but edging in that direction.

Now we’ve finally arrived — real-time is the latest social space. The technology is there and, at last, the right psychology is in place that will make these services explode. And I, for one, welcome our new avatar overlords.

Read more at mashable.com

 

The Social Soap Box: Social Media Gets Older

Can you believe the average age of a twitter user is 39 years old?!
Most people you ask would say, there’s no way! … twitter is for the younger kids – the Gen Y, or Millennials as they call them… but not so fast. The infographic below indicates that most social media users are between the age of 35-44, with a 25% share of all social media use.

Read on for more great statistics!

Thank you @autumntt for putting together this great article!

Amplify’d from newsroom.cisco.com

The Social Soap Box: Social Media Gets Older

Autumn Truong
July 28 , 2011

Social media has only been around a decade, but the folks who frequent sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are getting older. 

A recent survey conducted by Pew Internet revealed that the average age of a user of social networking sites is 38, a big increase from the average age of 33 just three years ago. To boot, over half of all adult Internet users are now over the age of 35. The Pew research also revealed that Facebook users in particular are 43 percent more likely than other Internet users and more than three times as likely as non-Internet users to feel most people can be trusted.

I asked Peter Kim, chief strategy officer at Dachis Group, a research and consultancy firm focused on social business, to share his thoughts:

“Many sites are seeing current growth from this older demographic. Early on, companies could dismiss the need for social strategy by claiming that social networks were better suited for youth. Now, there should be no doubt left that social channels are critical for both business to consumer and employee to employee communications.

As companies shift to social business, they will need to come to terms with the realities of engagement. Trust is paramount and built through direct engagement; yet most companies are not staffed to scale up quickly in social channels. Thus the changes in corporate communications and marketing will be slow to manifest publicly. But they’ll become the basis of long-term competitive advantage for those who get it right.

What this means: companies must consider their readiness for social business. Is the organization siloed or networked? Is the culture closed or collaborative? Are the right tools being used to facilitate communications and connections?

Look to companies like Ford and Target that are shifting on the leading edge of these changes.”

Net-net: The population is aging, so it makes sense that users of social networks are getting older, too. Here’s a fairly recent infographic that gives a good breakdown of how the various age groups interact online.

Read more at newsroom.cisco.com