Archive for September 2011
Engage With People That Like Your Page
Start with an interesting and compelling Facebook Page that differentiates your business from the competition. Apps are a good way for any business serious about marketing on Facebook to create a unique experience that helps you stand out. From sharing videos to contests, Facebook Apps are among the most used features on the platform. Add in the ability to share with friends and a strong Facebook App can have a huge impact on your ROI.
When we started working with e-commerce companies it was quickly realized that creating a separate tab that helps business owners showcase their products or services is the right approach. Constantly posting your products on your Facebook wall is considered bad etiquette and will turn people off, resulting in a sharp increase in the number of people “unliking” your page and, therefore, dismissing your brand. Creating a low-riskhigh- reward option for your customer is important, so always put yourself in the customers’ shoes when implementing any new Facebook ideas.
There are thousands of amazing apps on Facebook and visiting the Facebook App Directory is a good place to start, as well as talking with other business owners about which Facebook Apps they have found to be beneficial.
Create Engaging Content
The news feed optimization formula Facebook uses to decide what content shows up in a user’s top news feed. Showing this formula and how it is tied to Facebook’s current news options (top news vs. most recent) was genius, as it really encourages you to do the right thing by your customer.
Facebook news feed optimization has become a new type of SEO. If you like or comment on updates from one particular Facebook page often, you are likely to see that business’ status update in your top news feed (the default setting) on a regular basis. The formula (shown below), called EdgeRank, looks at affinity score (how often the user interacts with the page), weight (how many comments or likes a post has), and time decay (how recent that update was posted). In many respects, this is not unlike link building.
If you post content on your page that does not follow the above formula you are wasting your time, as updates will not be seen by your fans. Before you press the share button, reread the post and make sure you are asking for engagement. For example, if you are thinking of launching a new product, ask the opinion of your customers.
If you are just starting out and have very few people following your page, Facebook advertising is a great approach to reach the right people at the right time. Advertisers can request that ads are served based on what your customers have said they liked in their profile. For example, a Phoenix-based Mexican restaurant could promote a new brand of tequila to people on their birthdays that are located in the Phoenix area, based on the information from those users’ profiles. Before launch, Facebook will even show the number of estimated reach (see below) so as to not waste marketing dollars advertising to those less likely to engage.
Used with your Facebook Page, Facebook Insights offers valuable customer information. After reviewing age, gender and
country of residence you can enhance or change your current Facebook strategy. Using this data, you can decide which content works best, the audience you are currently reaching and where improvements can be made.
In the end, it’s all about making social connections with your target audience. Too often, business leaders and owners
think of their target audience as nameless, faceless people. Facebook brings the human touch to your relationships with
your customers; faces, names and conversations. And that is how you monetize Facebook — by creating a living dialogue
with your fans.
While you may have an intimate understanding of your Web pages and the content they represent, it is Google (and other search engines, too) that will help users find your page(s) by showing them a sample of the content — a “snippet,” if you will — on the search result pages. And these snippets are very important, as they are a major factor in whether or not a user clicks on the result.
Think of the summarized information as a new presentation model that applies Google’s algorithms to highlight structured data embedded in your Web pages. So can you influence what Google displays in these snippets? Yes, you can — with Google’s Rich Snippets.
As an SEO, Internet marketer or webmaster in general, you can influence the results by annotating your pages with structured data in a standard format. By incorporating some standard annotations in your pages, you not only make your structured data available for Google’s search results, but also for any service or tool that supports the same standard.
Focus initially on providing semantic markup (rich snippets) for people data featured on your website, then move to providing additional information for review data and event data.
Rich Snippets for People
The most exciting use is associating data with people. Since most websites feature some information about key employees
or stakeholders, it only makes sense to start here.
Each individual can have a number of properties to associate data with, including name, title and address, but there is much more valuable data that can be shared. An image link, the person’s role (not just the title), a Web page link and even affiliations are all candidates. Also, thanks to Google’s ability to recognize XFN properties (friend, contact and acquaintance properties), social relationships can also be identified.
Rich Snippets for Business
and Organizations Another content type to append with semantic markup is the information for your business or organization. Name, URL, address (including sub- properties such as street address, region, postal code and country name), a telephone number and the specific geographic coordinates can be included.
Rich Snippets for Reviews
One of the most interesting aspects of using Rich Snippets on review content is that both individual reviews and review information in aggregate can be marked up. For example, in some instances it might prove useful to show the aggregate number or reviews whereas others might be more interested in showing an editor’s rating or review of a particular product or location.
Individual reviews can receive the Rich Snippet treatment with properties such as the name of the item being reviewed, its rating (due to the many possible ways to indicate ratings, Google has provided some guidance on this — http://bit.ly/9kFtlp), the reviewer or author, the date the item was reviewed and a description and summary.
Those wishing to profile aggregate review data on the SERPs can include the item being reviewed, a rating, total number of reviews for the item, votes and a summary. For those who are thinking to include both, Google recommends choosing one format. If a page contains both individual and aggregate review data, only the aggregate markup data will be displayed.
Review sites and social networking sites (Yelp was one of the original adopters during an initial rollout) are those that will benefit the most by using Google’s Rich Snippets for reviews, at this point, but all signs point to Google extending to additional areas in the future. When that happens, being prepared will pay significant dividends.
Rich Snippets for Events
Receiving exposure on event information is a great reason to use Rich Snippets. Information such as an event’s title, date
and venue can help a listing stand out in the search results. Google currently uses the data only for pages containing collections of events, but websites displaying events should consider adding the snippet to their pages. There are several
other event fields to include, such as geographic coordinates, event type (festival, concert or lecture), duration and even
an image or photo.
Rich Snippets for Recipes
Don’t think of Rich Snippets as exclusive to B2B industries. In fact, Google supports Rich Snippets for B2C too, such as
recipes. The properties that can be added to rich snippets for recipes are some of the most extensive and detailed. Information such as the type or recipe, prep time, cook time, nutrition and even instructions are just some of the properties that can be included and displayed on the search result pages.
Finally, Google has provided the Rich Snippets Testing Tool to help webmasters check their markup — making sure the structured data can be extracted from the page. The tool displays the markup found on a specific Web page and a preview of how that page might appear in search results.
As structured data becomes more widespread on the Web and on Google, it is time now to get excited about the possibilities and get started marking up your pages. Rich Snippets offers a way for marketers and publishers to extend
some level of control and customization on search results pages. And any edge on Google SERPs is a significant one.
Videoconferencing is an increasingly viable communication tool for businesses of all sizes. However, there is no one-size-fits-all videoconferencing solution; the one that fits best depends on the size of a business, the nature of a business, and what a business wants to accomplish.
Larger businesses can opt for providing all employees with desktop videoconferencing capabilities, multiple room-based systems, one or more immersive telepresence systems, or some combination thereof. Whatever the configurations you choose, the muscle and might resides on the core of your network, in the IT closet.
Systems may include per-seat licenses for as many employees as necessary, each endpoint (a desktop or a room) equipped with the necessary cameras, microphones, and videoconferencing software. The addition of a bridge, which can handle anywhere from a dozen or so users up to hundreds of users, enables multi-way videoconferencing; multiple bridges, which can be placed in various offices or branches, multiply the number of possible simultaneous users.
You can also add a recording box to the system, which allows you to record video conferences and stream content to dozens of users. With the addition of a dedicated streaming box, you can create a sort of corporate YouTube where thousands of users can access recorded content at once.
The crème de la crème solution is the immersive telepresence system, which is essentially a room containing a video display wall, the ability to hold simultaneous calls between large groups of people, and the ability to call virtually any other videoconferencing system. Immersive telepresence is ideal for corporate training sessions, conducting university classes online, and government applications.
You don’t need special bandwidth capabilities to run even the most elaborate system; the broadband Internet that most companies already have in place is sufficient.
The cost of a videoconferencing system varies widely. In general, however, the more functionality you add to a system, the higher the price. Instead of buying every component separately, it’s typical to buy everything you need as a package from a single vendor. However, many customers buy the displays—typically large-screen HDTVs—on their own, as it’s often more cost-effective that way.
Desktop endpoints cost in the neighborhood of $100 per seat, with rooms running anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on how elaborate a given room is. Bridges cost between about $25,000 up to a couple hundred thousand dollars, depending on how many simultaneous users they support. A recording box may cost around $25,000, and you can expect to pay approximately $75,000 for a streaming box. Immersive telepresence solutions run between about $150,000 to $500,000 per room, depending on the scale of a given installation and its amenities.
How to browse the Web, run apps, play music and games— and most important, watch what you want, when you want it.
“Smart TV” is the new hot buzzword these days. Imagine, for a moment, that your HDTV combined the simplicity of the
normal TV-and-remote experience with the powerful search features and video-on-demand libraries you’re accustomed to on the Web. Toss in social networking, photo sharing, music, gaming, and a hundred kinds of Web content. That’s what
“smart TV” means. It means never needing to settle for anything less than having what you want to watch (or hear, or
play) running in big-screen glory right now, while you master the universe from the couch with your all-powerful remote.
Don’t let all the TV and tech companies out there fool you, however. You have many ways to make your existing TV
smarter, other than just buying a new connected TV with all the bells and whistles built in. You don’t have to purchase a
brand-new PC or yet another set-top box, either. and you don’t have to let your cable-TV subscription hold your eyeballs
(or your wallet) hostage with hundreds of channels you’ll never watch.
Looking to buy a new HDTV? Choose the right TV—one that connects directly to the Internet—and you can enjoy loads of
Web features and apps without having to buy any add-ons or boxes. But choosing may not be easy: all the major TV manufacturers now have some package of Internet-connected features built into their midrange and high-end models.
In early Internet-connected TVs, packages included only a few additional “channels”—Netfl ix Instant Watch, YouTube, and a few video-rental services like amazon Instant Video, CinemaNow, and Vudu. Connected-television features have since advanced quickly.
New connected TV sets come packed with apps, games, and Internet video channels, often with options exclusive to the manufacturer.
Cost: You’ll have to pay for the television ($1000 to $2000 for midrange to high-end sets). The good news: You don’t necessarily have to pay a premium for an Internetconnected TV: Some manufacturers, such as Vizio, sell lowend models that are priced in the $750 to $830 range. The cost of an HDTV will generally de pend on the set’s size and on its panel technology (a 50-inch plasma set will cost more than a 50-inch LED one). and you won’t have to pay for access to the smart-TV service itself—just for the subscriptions to specifi c services such as Hulu Plus or Netfl ix, as well as the video-download rental fees.
Advantages: Connected TVs are simple and elegant. You can use your TV’s own remote, you don’t need to worry about
running extra power cords or audio/video cables as you do with a set-top box or a home theater PC, and many HDTV sets
include built-in Wi-Fi support (so you don’t even need to plug an ethernet cable into the back).
What’s more, newer TV sets often come with new remote controls that make it easier to use the Internet features. For
example, Lg’s Magic Motion remote is a gesture-oriented remote control similar to the Nintendo Wii controller (just
point the remote at the TV to move your cursor), which lets you more easily use the built-in Web browser of Lg sets.
Vizio’s high-end sets include a Bluetooth remote with a slideout keyboard to facilitate typing.
Disadvantages: Connected TVs aren’t particularly versatile. If your set-top box doesn’t have a channel you want, you can go buy a new one, but you won’t be able to do such a thing so easily with a big, expensive HDTV. also, if you’re big on live TV, you’ll still need your cable-TV subscription, as the Internet features are mostly on-demand video only.
Advanced tips: Most connected TVs include uSB ports and DLNa support (see the glossary on page 65), meaning that
you can watch your locally stored video, photos, and music from a uSB drive by plugging it straight into your TV or from
other PCs on your network—handy for the times when the video you want to watch is sitting on your PC in the den.
Future-proof? Yes—but only if you choose wisely. although early Internet features in HDTVs looked pitiful compared with what a standard set-top box could offer, the big players in the HDTV market (Lg, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and Vizio) are each looking to make their Web-connected TV sets your entertainment hub by adding new features, video channels, and even their own app stores. For example, Panasonic’s “Viera Connect” Internet features include Facebook, Skype, Twitter, and even downloadable games from gameloft in addition to a whole host of media-streaming services like
amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Netfl ix, and Pandora.