William Toll - Marketing Pro in Boston and Berlin

My Blog About Cloud Computing and Marketing Readings From Around the Web

Google+ & Your Employees, Time to Dive In

We knew this would happen.  Google is now indexing and ranking Google+ content higher.  This makes sense, and it’s the reason Google has been on a “quality” push for months.  With the Panda update Google “took out the trash”.  With “Ripples” Google helps users understand how and why their content is shared.  The “+” button is rapidly becoming a strong signal for quality and “we” are being “trained” to use it.

The only real equivalent to what Google is doing is LinkedIN.   I see it this way – on Twitter, we socialize and freely share.  For most of us a Tweet lasts 3-5 minutes in the stream.  Twitter has a place in the community.  On LinkedIN, we share the “best” stuff, most likely to be of interest to our “business” network.  At the moment, nothing is more powerful than your content being shared on LinkedIN. I often meet people who still don’t know about one of the most powerful tools on the Web: LinkedIN’s Status Update search.  Did you know, you can easily search all mentions of your brand, your content or your keywords.  I use this tool to build a profile of the people that are sharing our content.  I can see their job titles, company name, company size, company location and much more. (Yes, you can see people outside your network!) Nothing is more helpful today to gather this insight.  Best of all it’s free and anyone can do it.  Here is a screenshot that shows you a search I did recently for Yottaa.

LinkedIN Status Update Search for Website Speed

LinkedIN Status Update Search Results for Website Speed

 

So what does a content marketer do to leverage the growing importance of Google+?  First, don’t wait for “Business Google+ Pages and Accounts.”  Waiting will only delay your success in the new era of “Fresh” Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).  Encourage your key employees to get a Google+ profile and account.  Teach them how to leverage Google+ to follow and share their passions.  Teach them how to add their other profiles and develop interesting profiles. Encourage them to start reading and sharing content from your industry’s media, thought leaders and beyond.  Help them build and share circles of industry leaders and media.  (Don’t forget to teach them best practices for sharing and using the social Web, nothing is worse than an employee shouting a sales message).  When you are ready, roll out a program to help employees share company content on Google+.  Likewise, encourage them to “+1″ and comment on references to your brand, where appropriate.  One of the best tools for this in the Twitter world is GaggleAMP, if you have not checked them out you should.  I have not found a similar tool to GaggleAMP for Google+, however I am sure one is coming and GaggleAMP may well add Google+ in the future.

Finally, why go through all the effort to leverage Google+?  First, it’s about the SERPs, SEO is not dead, it’s just become social!  The SERPs are now full of content that has been successfully shared across networks, and increasingly that means Google+.  Let’s look at a SERP for the search Web Performance Optimization.  It’s important to note that in example one, I am logged into Google, so my results are highly influenced by my social network and activity.  Example two, I have a clean browser, with no cookies and history and I am not logged into Google.

Logged In Google Search Results Page Web Performance Optimization

Example One: Logged In Google Search Results Page Web Performance Optimization

Logged Out Google Search Results Page Web Performance Optimization

Example Two: Logged Out Google Search Results Page Web Performance Optimization

 

 

 

As you can see when logged into Google, my results are different, and influenced by my social network.  It’s clear to me that as Google expands its reach, gains more users of Gmail, Google Apps and Google+, there will be more “logged in” users.  SERPs that have socially influenced results will not only rank higher, but are more visually appealing.  Plus, with over 90% of buyers considering recommendations before making a purchase decision, having the validation of others in their social circle sharing or clicking a “+1″ for content, will drive click-thrus and conversions.

 

What about you?  Have you rolled out a plan to help your team have fun on social networks, while providing some value back to your marketing efforts?

 

 

Google Reader – An Update on Google’s Update

Google’s update to Google Reader has caused a lot of anger across the content curation world. No doubt Google Reader powered a large portion of the sharing of content across social networks. On 10/31/2011 they broke that and now force users to share their readings on Google +. As of result of these changes there is a petition with 10,000 signatures. There were articles on this change in Forbes, Atlantic Wire, Washington Post, Mashable, TechCrunch, RWW and beyond.

Personally, – I save Google + for the best of the best and when I want to comment. I used Twitter to share a diverse population of RSS feeds – focused on Cloud Computing and Marketing. These are my passions and the passions of my followers.

It amazes me that Google is so callous – deleting users shares, their contacts, their likes from Google Reader. All this, plus the new interface is being widely criticized “too much white space” and multiple navigation areas are being mentioned most often.  Although the old interface was ageing it was built for speed.  In fact the team that used to work on Google Reader obsessed over ever pixel: Read this post on the Google Reader Blog on how they found 17 more pixels of reading space!  - it  It definitely makes you wonder how committed/desperate they are to build a social network. Interestingly if you run a sentiment analysis against Twitter for Google Reader it’s almost all negative today.

http://twittersentiment.appspot.com/search?query=%22google%20reader%22

I suspect the number of Tweets (albeit mostly repetitive) will drop today. I also read that other services are experiencing the affects of this change including: Friendfeed, FlipBoard, Twitterfeed, Deliver.it, Buffer etc.

Also, I tried to “export” my Google Reader “Shares” however the JSON download functionality seems to be under heavy load as users desperately to to salvage what they one had.

The good news? Opportunity. There are several startups looking to fill the void that Google has opened. The one that had bubbled to the top is: HiveMinded

More Good news…for those with iPhones – I think I found a replacement!

I think I just found a RSS reader that can handle my 8,400 RSS feeds! No other iOS app has been able to handle the digital hoarding of 8,400+ RSS feeds I have created.

There are sharing options, folders, read/unread indicators…There is even a “night mode” – which enables you to read before bed and not be blinded. I also like the “email full content”, Facebook, Evernote, “Copy” options and  Instapaper options as well.  Still testing it but so far it looks far better than the mess that Google Created with their Desktop and iOS Google Reader updates!

http://twitter.com/#!/feeddler

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewSoftware?id=364873582&mt=8

A screenshot from Feeddler is shown below.

What do you think about all of this? What is your plan to continue to read/share and love the world of information available about your passions?

 

Feeddler - Google Reader Replacement for iOS

Feeddler - Google Reader Replacement for iOS

Event Marketing – The Ultimate Toolkit Checklist for Trade Show Booths

Preparing for a trade show or expo booth is complicated enough – with coordination between event organizers, creative teams and shipping companies – one thing you don’t want to forget about is the team.  With executives, sales teams and partners all expecting a flawless booth and engaged personnel – how can you, as the marketing leader or event coordinator be best prepared?

No doubt – preparing for an event is one of the most traditional “project management” intensive activities that the marketing team is asked to do – it ranks up there with a new website rollout or a rebranding effort.  And – for many companies it happens multiple times per year. In some cases there can be two or  shows running at one time.  One secret I learned from Tani Currin of NaviSite was to be prepared for anything.  A fully stocked tool kit can make your presence more successful and your team more relaxed.

How many times have you been at a trade show – only to discover you did not have enough power strips (to keep employee devices charged) or post-it-notes to attach notes to business cards.  Even worse, when you are in a strange city running out to find supplies can be costly, time consuming and stressful.

I recently helped Yottaa sponsor and exhibit at the Web 2.0 Expo in NYC. #W2E  It was our first big trade show. I thought I would take a photo of the kit I put together and share it’s contents with you.

Event Marketing Toolkit

  • Lightweight box with wheels.  I bought one at OfficeMax that collapses, has a lid, an extendable handle.  It’s meant to store legal files but it’s just the right size and color to have in a booth.  Plus – it can serve as a little table and/or hide things in.Event Marketing Supplies - A checklist for your trade show kit.
  • Power strips – Bring two – you can always string them together to increase the length.  The ones that allow the larger wall plugs to be spread apart are even better.  Make sure they have a surge suppressor – the power at these events is uneven and can easily zap all of your equipment. Be sure to check the length, I have seen these as shorts as 3′ to as long as 12′.
  • Tools: Scissors, screwdrivers, pliers – I bought a small 20-piece kit that has it’s own storage container.  These tools are great if you need to adjust something and the facilities people are not around (or not looking).
  • Network Switch – 4 or more ports.  These are great for adding extra ports in the booth for employees, demo machines and more.  The wireless connections at events are notoriously bad – so anything you can do to ensure a good solid connection for your machines is a good thing.  You can also buy a wireless router – and use it as a switch or to provide wireless access – but setting it up and maintaining a good connection can be a challenge for the employees in your booth.
  • Ethernet cables – colored ones.  These can help prevent people from tripping on them or finding them. Get both longer and shorter ones to keep cable clutter down.  Be careful when you buy them – don’t buy a “crossover cable”(usually yellow)
  • Miscellaneous cables – (Update) Courtney Engle reminded me that I always pack some extra cables – VGA adapters for Mac’s, an extra long VGA adapter (in case you need to move the laptop to monitor, USB extenders – in case the keyboard and mouse are higher on the table/kiosk than you planned, an extra MACBook Air ethernet adapter, and an extra USB and iPhone charger – booth staff always seem to forget theirs.
  • Black Velcro Strips for wire management.  You want your booth and wires to look neat.  There is nothing worse than seeing a tangle of wires coming out or a laptop or monitor.
  • Keyboards and Mice.  Laptops are great for demos and or driving a display – but you want t make sure your booth visitors are able to see the screen (30″ monitor or laptop) easily and attaching keyboards and wired mice make it easier.
  • PPT Screensaver and Screenshots- You never know if you will have Internet access. Before you leave create a PPT with product benefits, screenshots and company overview can help tell the story.
  • Hand Sanitizer – Some of your employees will appreciate it.
  • Advil & Tylenol – Long days with lots of demos in bad lighting can give anyone a headache.
  • Mints- Help your team feel confident to speak to booth visitors.
  • Paper clips
  • Binder clips (helps hold signage or table throws nice and neat)
  • Stapler
  • Scotch tape
  • Clear Packing Tape (Save time and money by boxing up and securing your own shipping boxes)
  • Duct Tape
  • Bungee Cords – One or two different sizes – these are great for moving things between the exhibit hall and your hotel room or transportation.
  • Paper – letter size for marketing boxes etc.
  • Post-it-notes – booth staff can write notes on business cards or leave notes to each other.  You can also use them to write demo account information down on the back of a monitor or keyboard. (Don’t write a password on it!)
  • Sharpie pens – wide and fine point.
  • Dust cloth – the microfiber ones are great for removing dust and fingerprints from screens.
  • Mailing envelope or two.
  • A few ziplock bags – great for protecting business cards etc.
  • Paper towels for emergencies
  • Pens
  • Notebooks
  • Extra company branded shirts- If possible bring one extra per booth staff (in the sizes of the staff)- having these on hand to deal with spills, wrinkles for forgotten shirts can save the day.
  • Printed Show Guide- Before any trade show make sure you send around a who/what/when/where guide for employees to know where they need to be, where everyone is staying etc.  (Always good to also have a printed list of mobile numbers for all booth staff).
  • Professional Steamer – like the one at Bed, Bath & Beyond by Shark – from shirts to table throws to booth backdrops everything will be wrinkled.
  • Don’t forget – candy bowl, business card drop bowl, acrylic collateral and business card holders etc.

 

What did I miss?  What is in your kit?

 

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