Add Pieces of Flair

Office Space ignited our love for adding tacky buttons to our uniforms in a vain attempt to convey a persona. Let’s stop to ask ourselves, are we limited OR are we only limiting ourselves? Take some time to find your own source of inspiration. After all, no one wants to end up like a Milton… (spoiler: he’s the one that burns the office building down).

So, what are some of your favorite ways to add a little panache to your work/workspace?

Personalize Your Browser
Calling all Firefox fans! Their Personas toolbar has been out for awhile and it allows you to apply different themes to your internet browser. Not feeling any of the designs? You can create your own, of course. Create a header (3000px wide x 200px high) and footer (3000px wide x 100px high). Next:

  • Install the tool bar
  • Click on the fox icon on the bottom left of your browser
  • Preferences > Show custom Persona in menu
  • Custom > Edit > Locate image locations, apply and you’re done!

Jazzing Up Your Facebook Fan Page
Do you need to create a custom box or tab for your Facebook Fan Page? Don’t waste your time with other useless applications – Static FBML is all you’ll need. Check out Mashable’s latest showcase of 5 interactive Facebook Pages. Isn’t GAP’s campaign cute? With this application, you can also add picture galleries, videos and more. I really like how business-friendly Facebook is becoming.

Travel to Another Era for Inspiration

Sometimes, there’s nothing like a blast from the past to get our creative juices flowing. If you love vintage print ads, this is a collection that you can’t miss! Don’t know what it is, but there’s just something that is so exciting. Maybe, it’s the technicolor and lack of Photoshop! I’m not just talking about ads – literature, films, and movies can always help you feel inspired if you’re in a rut.

Do You Read Other Blogs?

With your busy schedule, you may already have a hard time finding a spare moment to crank out some blog posts. Do you take the time to read any other blogs in your leisure? Browsing blogs doesn’t have to be a time-waster and there’s actually a lot you can learn. If you live on the internet like I do, you’ll know why you should read other blogs:

1) Get ideas. Like anything else, blogs come in three different categories: the good, the bad and the ugly. Although you want to stick with the good ones, you can learn from the horrible ones. Reading other relevant blogs will help you keep up to date with current topics. Don’t have a list of favorite blogs? No problem. You can always browse sites like AllTop that aggregate the most interest blog topics. Sometimes, I also just like to surf tags on WordPress.

2) Make connections. Maybe your blog focuses on a niche topic. By reading other blogs, you can make friends with other relevant bloggers. Once you exchange comments, you can add them to your blog roll and hopefully, they’ll do the same. Link exchange is great and you can get more readers.

3) It’s fun! Feel like killing some time on your lunch break? Instead of browsing YouTube for some videos, why not browse some fun blogs? Blogs and tumblelog can be fun and give you a much needed break. Now, sit back and de-stress by reading other people’s work-related hell.

Just Attended: Social Media Club

Last night, we braved the rain and made it to join, “Social Media: Getting it Right in 2010”, with the Social Media Club of San Gabriel Valley. Moderated by Sally Falkow, the panelists included: Dana Chinn, James Macpherson. and Jessica Gottlieb. With good people and good fudge, what more could we ask for?

In about 2 hours, a wide array of topics were covered. It started out with what’s changed in the media. Nowadays, you small businesses can take advantage of bloggers to monitor your brand and listen to what customers want. No doubt, the theme of the night was to measure your efforts and adjust accordingly. Just because we’re talking about social media marketing, doesn’t mean that you should throw the basics of marketing out the window!

Useful Tips and Takeaways
- When it comes to social media, you don’t necessarily need to be everywhere. Utilize the right platforms that will work with your overall goals.
– Make use of location-based review sites: Foursquare and Yelp. Listen and be nice to your customers!
– Don’t forget to be engaging. Leave comments and interact with your fans and friends frequently.
– Communicate your passion. Chances are, there are many readers out there who share your enthusiasm for certain topics. Even if they don’t, your excitement is a great way to bring them in.

All in all, it was a fun and informative night. Looking forward to more of them in the future!

Effective Copywriting for Web 2.0

I recently read a magazine article describing the profession of copywriting as “sexy.” After giggling for half a second, it dawned on me that “sexy” was just the right word to use. Copywriters, through the power of the written word, are responsible for “seducing” their audience. They have the fun, yet daunting, task of generating interest and then developing that interest to lead to some sort of fruitful relationship, not unlike the dating world. And, just like the dating game, the rules have changed.

The more information that technology makes readily available to consumers, the less time these consumers have to spend on any one particular product, service or idea. The attention span of the average web user has steadily decreased as the barrage of online information continues to overwhelm human senses. With this in mind, the web copywriter must truly embrace the concept of “less is more.” Relevance and credibility are still important principles to keep in mind when writing content, but Web 2.0 consumers now want relevance and credibility…in cliff notes format. A great example of this trend is the micro-blogging phenom, Twitter. Twitter’s popularity and success is a smack-in-the-face realization that web users’ tolerance for information has been Mini-Me-ed down to 140 characters!

With that said, here are some key guidelines for downsizing a seven-course meal of content into a snack-size bar without losing the essentials:

1. Listen to data: Conduct A/B testing on different versions of headlines to determine which works best.
2. Waste not, fluff not: Don’t make claims you can’t support. Consumers can smell a phony sales pitch a mile away!
3. Forget “short and sweet”: Just keep it short. Jargon, hype, gimmicks are all unnecessary sugar-coating. Give them what they want to know.
4. Know your audience: This one seems obvious, but is worth repeating. Write copy that speaks in a voice that your target market, not only understands, but listens to.
5. Format for easy reading: Use headlines, sub headlines, short paragraphs, lists, and an eighth-grade reading level. Have your 13-year-old read the copy. If he/she doesn’t “get it” by the time their attention is lost to a new YouTube video, it’s time to rewrite!

Preparing SEO for the Shopping Season

What Should You Expect?

For most companies, the last business quarter proves to be the busiest and most profitable time of the year. Knowing this, it is important to get organized and prepared for the stress that is to come. There’s no need to fret, as having a plan will save you time and anxiety during the holiday season. Consumers aren’t afraid of splurging on deals on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, pre and post Christmas sales. Now more than ever, consumers are finding search engines results helpful and it is something that smart retailers will definitely take advantage of. Here are some tips to help you with your SEO preparations for the shopping season.

Focus on Organic SEO

The shopping season is a crucial time to focus on organic SEO efforts. Although there is no definitive answer, most experts agree that failing to keep up with promoting targeted keyword phrases is a bad move to make. In most cases, keyword traffic is likely to decline if your content is not actively being optimized. Having a brand name is not enough to guarantee you success if your company is not showing up with relevant keywords. It pays to be committed and patient when it comes to your organic SEO arrangement. Not only will this method bring in customers who are familiar with your brand, but make other potential consumers aware that you exist! For this reason, many turn to SEO as a cost effective way to bring in the holiday success.

Understanding and Attracting Customers

First, get blogging! Active blogs that are helpful and entertaining will be valuable to consumers. Resist the temptation to flood your blog with self-promoting materials. The blog arena is a place where you can retain loyal readers and even make useful contacts with your peers. Blogs are an informal medium and readers will appreciate reading material that they can relate to. Instead of just trying to sell yourself, think of creating a win-win situation for yourself and your readers. In the world of social media, you can reach out in other forms. Whether it is funny blurbs on Twitter or viral videos on Youtube, using social media is a great way to spread the holiday spirit around. Christmas and Hanukkah are the big ones, but don’t forget about Halloween. What about National Boss Day or Winter Solstice? Don’t be afraid to get inspired with your blogs, but remember that there is a difference between getting creative and going overboard!

Blogging Basics

Blogs have reached a new level of popularity in the past several years. Many websites and companies have started one or more consistent blogs in order to add quality content to their sites, which helps to increase their ranking.  According to the numbers provided by New Media Lab in Austin, blogging grew by 68 percent in 2008; 356 million people worldwide read blogs; and 77 percent of active Web users read blogs. New Media Lab provided these statistics regarding who is blogging in the United States:

* 51 percent male
* Age 35+ (58 percent)
* Age 18-34 (42 percent)
* College educated (74 percent)

What is blogging?

Blogging is a social networking tool that can be used for personal and/or professional reasons. A blog is like an online journal that allows you to write about whatever you want. Individuals often use blogs to share personal information and personal opinion with family and friends whereas organizations or companies often use blogs to advertise their services and provide helpful information to clients and potential clients. Setting up and maintaining a blog is simple and usually free of cost, making it an exceptionally useful tool for companies when it comes to educating the public on their business, their products or their services.

Blogs are an easy way for people and businesses to publish their ideas and their opinions. Commenting is allowed on most blogs, making it a kind of conversation. Blogs allow readers to actively participate in the blog by responding to posts and thereby sharing their opinion as well.

Setting up a blog

The first step to setting up your blog is deciding on a unique name. Once you have a name, you should lock in a domain name for your blog. Next, you need to pick your content management system, which will provide you with the tools needed to manage your blog. The two most popular platforms are Blogger and WordPress. Blogger is free, but is somewhat limited in comparison. Next you must design your page. Several tools can help you customize your blog design, including WordPress Themes, Template Monster, and Unique Blog Designs. Also, remember to turn on the comment option. Comments are a good way to get feedback and make your blog appear popular.

Adding Social Media and Links

Add links onto your blog to any of your other social media profile pages, such as Twitter and Facebook. It is also smart to add links to any other personal or corporate pages you have. After you have done this, add links onto these other social media profile pages back to your blog. Many social bookmarking plug-ins can help promote your blog, including:

* Digg
* Sphinn
* Twitter
* Delicious
* StumbleUpon

Great Example of a Catchy Blog Headline

Just read an interesting blog post that I thought I’d blog about. First of all I subscribe to about 20 blogs and they all get fed into my Google Reader which is great. I also just added a gadget to my iGoogle home page so the most recent blog posts are displayed. Now I’m not able to read all of these everyday but I do read headlines and this headline caught my eye today. The topic was something I’m interested in but it was also tied into a movie that I like which was a double whammy for me.  So of course I read the article. Here’s the headline and a link to the blog post:

What Jason Bourne Can Teach You About Social Media

With the amount of conent out there you have to figure out ways to get people to read your content and having a great topic is sometimes not enought. So try and figure out the double whammy for your niche and I’ll do the same.

Local Search Marketing Workshop in Los Angles

We had a great turnout for our event last week. Please contact us if you’d like to be on our mailing list of free workshops. The next event will be held in early January. You can view a short video recap of the event here and also see the slides from the event below.

Free Local Search Marketing Workshop

We will be offering a free search marketing workshop on November 12th for business owners in the Los Angeles area. We will be covering the following topics: blogging, local search engines, social bookmarking, and ways to monitor your business on the Internet

Lunch will be provided along with FREE blog hosting and setup for all attendees.
Please click here to RSVP and find out all the details. We look forward to seeing you!

Matt Cutts SEO Tips On Blogging

Well if you’re reading this chances are you’ve heard of Matt Cutts but if you haven’t, he’s a rockstar in the search marketing space. He’s also know as the spam czar at Google. He heads the spam team at Google and speaks often about SEO and “whitehat” techniques. Whitehat is a term in the search marketing space that refers to tactics that are permitted by the search engines and blackhat refers to ways people try and trick the search engines. This video goes into ways you can do SEO through your blog with whitehat techniques. I’d recommend staying on top of Matt Cutts blog.

I’d love to hear some feedback on this video. Please feel free to comment.