Companies are effectively using social-media tools for customer care

June 30, 2009

The popular communications technology has helped companies quickly and inexpensively respond to customer complaints, answer questions and tailor products and services. It has supplemented current customer services, easing the load on call centers and expensive mailers that most consumers abhor. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and online software services such as LiveOps, and RightNow Technologies are all are being used to improve customer service, retain users and gain a competitive advantage.

As more companies effectively use social-media tools for customer care, it also is becoming easier to shift customer-relations resources to the U.S. and feed into the fledgling “homeshoring” trend. Home-based workers have become de rigueur among employers to take advantage of better technology, gain productivity from employees no longer tied to long commutes and leverage the expertise of local workers.

For many, call centers are out of the question — too frustrating, with long waits — and e-mail is too slow in an era of instantaneous online communications.

With so many social-media tools available, and consumers increasingly using them, this raises the question: Are call centers, direct mailers — even e-mail — things of the past for customer care  Though invaluable, social media is just a fraction of a company’s customer-service arsenal.

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9 SEO Tips for Attractive Search Engine Friendly Web Design

June 29, 2009

SEO: time-intensive, ever changing, and highly misunderstood. Creating a website design that is appealing, while also search engine friendly, is one of the hardest parts about SEO web design.

If you’re a designer, are your designs really search friendly?

A lot of misconceptions about SEO still exist in the web design community and many designers, who have at least some knowledge, are often acting with outdated information. Once a designer understands the value of SEO, there is still the concern of how to keep a design attractive, while also being search friendly.

Designers love beautiful websites and SEOs love optimized content and code, but neither should fool themselves, because these days, both matter. In that spirit, I’ve put together a list of 9 SEO tips that help keep your stunning website optimized for search engines.

1. It’s not the same old SEO
SEO can be hard to keep up with, because it is always changing. Today, SEO doesn’t mean a site has to be ugly.

2. Links talk
Links tell search engines what pages are about.

3. Design is linkbait
Great design improves credibility and the user experience.

4. Look at search bots as browsers
Considering a search bot as a disabled user or another type of browser, is exactly the type of approach needed for search friendly web design.

5. Smoke some hash
# The hash mark creates an element in the URL that is not considered unique by the search engines, so it is dropped.

6. Use SEO friendly JavaScript
Any time you touch technologies like JavaScript, you need to tread carefully

7. Flash is OK, sometimes.
Ask someone who casually follows SEO news, and they’ll tell you flash can now be crawled.
BUT . . .
* Do not include an entire site on one page.
* Do not use flash as the navigation.
* Do not include important content in flash.

8. CSS image replacement
CSS image replacement is one way to make a site look great, while also being search friendly.

9. Have great linking with footers
If you have a design that will be compromised by the inclusion of a robust navigation above the fold, a solid footer is a great solution.

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Eight Ways Microblogging Will Transform Your Company

June 26, 2009

When Network World selected 9 technologies IT pros should master in 2009, two of them were microblogging platforms: Twitter and Yammer. While most people are familiar with Twitter, relatively few are acquainted with Yammer.

Yammer is an enterprise Twitter that allows co-workers to share what they are working on. Privacy to each company’s Yammer network is assured by limiting access to those with a company email address.

While it isn’t as sexy as Twitter, Yammer will fundamentally improve your company in the following 8 ways.

1. Enhance your corporate culture

Nurturing a culture that motivates and empowers employees can greatly improve organizational productivity.

2. Create user-generated knowledge base and decrease internal emails by 60%

People are constantly emailing each other questions and solutions.

3. Increase productivity

Writing down what you are supposed to be doing helps focus attention on the task at hand

4. Yammer as therapy

It is very satisfying for teams to microblog their daily triumphs.

5. Replace wasted time with team bonding

Your employees are going to spend a certain amount of time socializing at work no matter what you do.

6. Have conversations without meetings

Yammer offers a lot more flexibility. Instead of limiting the discussion to half-hour meetings where you’re locked up in a lifeless conference room, Yammer allows you to have an ongoing conversation you can have with anyone in your company anywhere, anytime.

7. Latest industry news you’ll actually read

Not only get the news from people you trust, it is also a good way to keep track of who are the thought leaders in the company.

8. Amplify the influence of positive role models

Your entire organization can follow and benefit from the wisdom of your best performers.

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50 Social Sites That Every Business Needs a Presence on

June 24, 2009

If your business limits its online presence to advertising banners and blogging, it’s missing out. The Internet provides powerful networking opportunities that allow users to effectively target their audience by logging on to social sites like LinkedIn, Digg and more. Take advantage of these tools by asserting your company’s presence online and reaching more potential customers, business partners and employees.

Social-Media/Social-Bookmarking Sites

Share your favorite sites on the Web with potential clients and business partners by commenting on, uploading and ranking different newsworthy articles.

  1. Reddit: Upload stories and articles on reddit to drive traffic to your site or blog. Submit items often so that you’ll gain a more loyal following and increase your presence on the site.
  2. Digg: Digg has a huge following online because of its optimum usability. Visitors can submit and browse articles in categories like technology, business, entertainment, sports and more.
  3. Social bookmark your way to better business with sites like, which invite users to organize and publicize interesting items through tagging and networking

Professional-Networking Sites

Sign up with these online networking communities as a company or as an individual to take advantage of recruiting opportunities, cross-promotional events and more.

  1. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a popular networking site where alumni, business associates, recent graduates and other professionals connect online.

Niche Social-Media Sites

Consider linking up with one of these social-media sites to narrow down your business’s target audience. You’ll find other professionals, enthusiasts and consumers who are most likely already interested in what your company has to offer.

  1. Pixel Groovy: Web workers will love Pixel Groovy, an open-source site that lets members submit and rate tutorials for Web 2.0, email and online-marketing issues.

General Social-Media Sites

The following social-media sites provide excellent opportunities for businesses to advertise; promote specials, events or services; and feature published, knowledgeable employees.

  1. Wikipedia: Besides creating your own business reference page on Wikipedia, you can connect with other users on Wikipedia’s Community Portal and at the village pump, where you’ll find conscientious professionals enthusiastic about news, business, research and more.=
  2. Wetpaint: If you’re tired of blogs and generic Web sites, create your own wiki with Wetpaint to reach your audience and increase your company’s presence online. You can easily organize articles, contact information, photos and other information to promote your business.
  3. Twitter: Is a social networking and microblogging service that allows you answer the question, “What are you doing?” by sending short text messages 140 characters in length, called “tweets”, to your friends, or “followers.”

Job Sites

If you want to secure high-quality talent during your company’s next hiring spree, you’ll need to maintain a strong presence on popular job sites like the ones listed below.

  1. Reach millions of candidates by posting jobs on this must-visit site.

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Top 10 Tips for Social Networking Success

June 22, 2009

If you are still just testing the waters, these top ten tips can help you take the plunge into using social networks to successfully promote yourself or your brand.

1. Choose Your Networks Wisely

When you are beginning your social networking campaign you should decide which of these networks are the most relevant for your purposes.

2. Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

Putting all of you effort into a few social networks is much more effective than wearing yourself out trying to achieve the bare minimum in a ton of social networks.

3. Give Character to your Profiles

Before you start adding friends it is important to fill out your profiles as fully as possible.

4. Be Consistent

If you have profiles on several networks it is important to be consistent.

5. Birds of a Feather Flock Together

When you are adding friends to your social networks it is important to add friends that have the same interests as you or an interest in what you are trying to promote.

6. Put Your Heart in It

When you are building up your social networks, even if it is just for business or promotional purposes, it is important to be personable.

7. Be Active Regularly

Comment in groups and forums, update your profile and status and add new applications regularly.

8. Submit Quality Content

When you bookmark stories and websites and post links to your social networks it is important to make sure that you are submitting quality content.

9. Nobody Likes a Spammer

Don’t overload your friends with links, messages, comments and content.

10. Don’t Stress Yourself Out!

Social networking should be a positive experience.

With these ten tips you have the guidelines for building strong and valuable social networking skills.

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Four steps for getting more out of Twitter

June 18, 2009

In its current State of the Twittersphere report, Hubspot is finding what it calls some “surprising things.” The biggest surprise seems to be that many “Twitterers” aren’t actually using it

  • 79.79% failed to provide a homepage URL
  • 75.86% of users have not entered a bio in their profile
  • 68.68% have not specified a location
  • 55.50% are not following anyone
  • 54.88% have never tweeted
  • 52.71% have no followers

Download TweetDeck – go to and download this free application. It will enable you to manage the conversation from the people you follow and organize them into logical groups.

Sign up with TweetLater – go to and sign up. It will enable you to automatically follow back to those who follow you.

Install BigTweet – BigTweet enables you to distribute interesting information from the web to your followers. Install it on your browser’s toolbar from

Search for people to follow — you can do this either through your Twitter interface or by using a tool like

By establishing a systematic approach to communicating through Twitter, it can become great tool for building that word-of-mouth presence that all marketers are looking for.

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Surviving the Downturn Through Social Marketing

June 17, 2009

Social marketing offers a new way to interact with consumers, but aside from being another channel, it requires a different mindset to achieve results. This is Web 2.0, where the consumer is in charge of the message and will angrily resist big brand pressure and broadcast marketing. Content needs to have merit to thrive in the social space, so cheesy slogans are out and well-thought comments and humor are in.

So where to start with this new medium? That depends on what kind of business you are in.

Big brands and high-budget marketing departments have a part to play in the new social channels; viral campaigns that include fun or interesting content thrive on YouTube and other video-sharing sites.

One of the benefits of the new Web 2.0 culture is that it is not always high-budget content that makes it to the top of the list. As a matter of fact, the low-budget approach tends to resonate better with consumers, while a big production effort tends to come across as trying too hard. Create something wacky or funny, and people will start to share and comment; it is possible to make something that is successful, as long as it’s engaging and worth sharing.

However, don’t make anything you wouldn’t share yourself, and ensure you test out the ideas on a wide range of individuals in your target audience.

The other side of social marketing is the communication and recommendation areas springing up all over the Internet. The Twitter phenomenon has gained massive attention recently, partly due to the American presidential elections when up-to-the-minute commentary and news was available in real-time.

You should make three blog posts a day when you launch a blog, in order to have enough material to draw readers. Bloggers must realize that in the beginning, they will write for a very small audience, as it does take time to build up interest and followers. Blogs can be promoted on the corporate Web site and on Twitter — Google and the other search engines will index them and drive traffic, so make sure that entries are tagged well and that titles are interesting and contain key themes for your business.

So, if you are looking for a low-cost strategy to build customer engagement in a down market, the cheapest and easiest way is to construct something around the people in your organization and your thought leadership — focus on the people in the organization and the market, rather than on particular products.

It’s time for marketers to engage end-users through social media to create and maintain brand awareness and build customer loyalty.

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