Email or Social Media? Or Both?

A debate continues surrounding the value of email marketing and social networks (social media). Should businesses focus more attention on their social media accounts like Twitter and Facebook or email interactions? Or both?

Why does it matter how, as long as, you are communicating with your existing clients and getting referrals?email_logo

According to MediaPost Publications, the majority of costumers view email as the least intrusive way for companies to engage. Customers trust email more than social networks. Period. They believe they know how to avoid being scammed in email but do not fully understand the risks in social networks. Email is also viewed as being a good source for detailed information or when looking for exclusive deals because it goes beyond a post or 140 characters.

ExactTarget, recently released research called “The Meaning of Like.” The report found that consumers tend to view a “like” as a way of bookmarking content and sharing information with friends – not a form of consent for marketing. Also, Facebook engagement is more for entertainment purposes. Although customers can still get information and access to deals it offers a fun, different experience with the company.   Studies of buying habits around Christmas 2011 suggested a very low influence rate for social media.

Twitter by contrast is simple and to the point. It also fosters a relationship between the brand and the customer, which can generate brand loyalty and trust.

So, which is better? There really is one channel that surpasses the other. Facebook, Twitter and Email all have their audience and strengths in getting your brand message out. However, there are channels that are more appropriately suited for delivering different messages to the consumer.  Facebook is more for entertainment, so let loose a little and have fun. Twitter is SEO machine and is perfect for engaging in a conversation with your customers. Get to know them and let them get to know the company on a more personal level. Email should be used when you need to share some updates or detailed information.  An email is private.  Emails are bulk carries of information and offers including links to your website and social networks.1

At Ata2ud Media our experience shows that email is a very essential part of communicating with your clients and driving traffic to your social sites.   Call us today (713-628-0701) to get your brand message integrated across all your customer networks.

Extracted from the web @ http://kylelacy.com/is-email-more-important-than-social-media/

Does Mobile Spell the End of the PC?

Spending more time on your mobile device then your PC? There’s a trend slowly building and it may not be good for the PC industry. I’m not speaking about tablet and smartphone growth — although that’s part of the trend — but virtualization on mobile devices. This solution allows remote PC access from a tablet, for example, and could hurt already slowing PC sales.

I wouldn’t call this a new phenomenon: There have been remote access solutions on mobile devices for several years. Think of Citrix’s GoToMyPC or LogMeIn’s Ignition. These and similar services allow you to use a mobile devices to interact with the desktop of a Windows PC at home, so you could work on a Word document from an Android tablet, for example.

Virtualization is maturing quickly, as are the mobile chips that power smartphones and tablets. This week at CES, I played a graphic-intensive PC game with stunning visuals and fast action on an Android tablet. But the game itself was actually running on a Windows desktop. Using remote access software from Splashtop on the Asus Transformer Prime tablet, you couldn’t tell. See for yourself in the video demo I captured showing the zero-lag.

Connecting a tablet or phone to remotely use your own computer is just one part of the virtualization story. OnLive has a virtualization service that lets you connect a Windows machine in the cloud. That’s not your PC, but a “PC running on the web,” so to speak. I’ve done this myself with EC2 on Amazon’s Web Services and it only cost me a few dollars a month to run an instance of Windows on a PC I can use, but don’t own: Far cheaper than buying, maintaining and powering a physical computer.

Combine cloud streaming of computer applications and improved remote access apps, there’s less incentive to buy a new computer. Instead, you can either get more mileage out of an old computer or check out one that’s available in the cloud.

This is not to suggest the PC industry is dead, but PC dominance is slipping. Sales have started stagnating, and last year smartphones outsold computers.

At Ata2ud Media, we step outside our echo chamber to listen and learn.  Find us on Facebook.com/ata2udmedia or follow us on twitter.com/ata2udmedia. 

Extracted from the web @ http://gigaom.com/mobile/mobile-virtualization-another-nail-in-the-pc-coffin/?utm_source=social&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=gigaom

The Why of Social Media…..

Business owners are always asking, “why should I use social media for my business?” Recently, I found a blog written by Brick Marketing (http://www.brickmarketing.com/blog/active-social-media.htm) that gives a great explanation.
Social media has become a daily part of nearly everyone’s life. According to studies by The Pew Foundation, Nielson Research and others, millions of people are active on at least one social networking site each day.  Numbers alone do not answer the “why” of social media. Here’s why an active social media presence is so important:
Search Engine Optimization
The search engines pay attention to social media data and use it to determine search engine ranking. The search engines view content links that are shared frequently in social media as trusted. Since the search engines want to provide valuable search results, they will consider this as a ranking factor which means that the more frequently content gets shared in social media, the better chances it has of ranking well. Obviously, a search engine presence (or lack thereof) plays a huge role in the success of a website.

Traffic Generation
While it’s great to get social media followers, the ultimate goal of a social media marketing campaign should be to drive traffic to your business website. That’s why it’s so important to have the right social media followers, ones that are actually interested in the products or services that you offer. Thousands upon thousands of followers don’t mean much if they never take action and visit your website or blog to learn more.

Public Relations
Social media provides information in real time and has become a primary source of news. While it shouldn’t necessarily replace traditional PR or submitting online press releases, it’s another avenue to share information about your business and interact with members of the press.

Brand Building
Every industry is competitive online today. The businesses that will find the most success are the ones that are transparent and willing to share information with target audience members in order to become a trusted source. Social media is one avenue to share such information and connect with potential clients or customers in order to give them a positive view of your business and brand.

Referrals
Everything in the social media world revolves around connection.  Connection is your ability to interact with satisfied customers and seek referrals.  If you believe 70-80% of your new business comes from repeat customers and referrals, then using social media to network is a very nature extension of your current business development model.

Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to learn more about using social media to build your brand.

Atttitude is Everything!

“The world has become more competitive; the economy has undeniable vulnerabilities and is in need of reinvention.  As in all situations, the determining factor will be our attitude, how we choose to look at this reality.”  –50 Cent  

I believe the quality of our lives is largely determined by the quality of the questions we are continually asking ourselves.  In our ever changing and demanding world how do we first cope with and then embrace change?  Let me suggest an answer: attitude.    Professor Erwin H. Schell, one of the most respected minds on leadership says, ”obviously, there is something more than facilities and competence that make for accomplishment. I have come to believe that the linkage factor, this catalyst, if you will, can be defined in a single word attitude.  When our attitude is right, our abilities reach a maximum of effectiveness and good results inevitably follow.“  I believe attitudes do make a profound difference.

Think about it for a minute.   If you are greeted when you enter a store with an authentic and warm smile how do you feel?   Compare that to being ignored or glared at when you walk in.  How does your greeting effect your emotions?  How about your desire to shop?  Will you spend more or less time in the store?  The salesperson’s greeting reflects their attitude toward their work and your presence.  Their attitude affects yours.

As human beings we are keenly attuned to reading attitudes through expressions and voice tones and inflections.  We communicate our attitudes, our feelings toward people and things through body and facial expressions.   It is said that attitudes are the mirrors of the mind.  They reflect thinking.  Ask yourself this question; what attitude do people see in you?  If you cannot define what your attitude, then how can you change? Awareness will change your perspective. Once you are aware and you are ready to see it, you life and perspective is forever changed.

Have you heard the saying, “Attitude Is Everything”? I believe attitude might really be everything, as it is the lens we look at life through.  Success and failure are judged by your attitude.  Think about this simple saying, “everyday I am on this earth is a good day!”  Imagine if you really believed “everyday I am on this earth is a good day”?  By merely waking up you have declared the day, a good day!  On the flip side, if you woke up each day with a work to-do list a mile long and lamenting each challenge, how do you see your day? When does you day become a good day?  When it is over?  Now try a subtle attitude shift.  Thank you for having work and clients that create challenges and a mile long list of to-dos.  I am not unemployed.  Thank you I have a job!

Your attitude shapes your perspective, the way your interpret event, the choices your make, the actions you take and the outcomes you get.  You want your life to change?  Change your attitude first. Do you want real happiness?  Not the kind of happiness that changes moment to moment.  Then change your attitude. Here is my secret to true happiness,  “even if you have a great attitude already, it could always be better.”  Ready to change your attitude?

Make a Choice: Decide what attitude you want to have and choose to adopt that attitude.  The real control you have in this life is to “choose your attitude”.    Obstacles in life create opportunities, as long as, you shift your attitude to embrace the challenge.

Break Old Patterns: If you catch yourself with a bad attitude, do something radical to change your physiology.  Pump yourself up.  Clap your hands and shake off the old attitude.    Look in the mirror to see what you are reflecting. 

Spend Time with Positive People: Attitudes are contagious. What attitude do you want to catch?  If you spend time with people who are on fire for life, then you are likely to be on fire for life.

Ask Better Questions: The ongoing chatter or noise in our heads is a series of questions.  The majority of the time it does not even register that this process is going on.  Most of the time this is not a very conscious process.  Learn to ask a better question.  Try this;  do you believe life happens to you, or for you? If life happens to you, then your circumstances of the moment determine your happiness.  If life happens for you, then even in the most tragic situations there is something to learn or a way to grow.  If you are continually learning and growing you are generally pretty happy.

Quit Using Excuses: We tend to stubbornly hold on to our attitudes even when they do not get us the life we want.  They are habits and learn to justify them. We have excuses for our excuses.  Do you want to hold onto your excuses, or do your want results?

Reminders: Write the attitude you want on a post-it note and put it somewhere so that you’ll see it regularly like on the bathroom mirror or car visor.   Set an alarm that goes off at certain times of the day to remind you to grab hold of your new attitude.

Believe: You have to believe! You have to believe that a new attitude is possible and the choice is solely yours!

Time to make a choice! You decide. If attitude is everything, what is your attitude?  Remember, the way to true happiness is this,  “even if you have a great attitude already, it could always be better.”   Ready to change your attitude and have a happier new year? It your choice!

Social Games are Growing…..

The number of people who play online social games is on the rise. Most of us probably already assumed as much. A new survey, commissioned by PopCap Games, confirms the trend. More than four out of 10 U.S. Internet users (41%) play social games at least 15 minutes weekly, compared to 24% of Net users in Jan. 2010, according the research conducted by Information Solutions Group. That means about 98 million in the U.S. play online social games. The results are based on 1,201 online surveys done by Toluna‘s Internet ePanel in the United States and the U.K. Sept. 15-22.

The number of devoted social gamers rose, too, with 16% saying that they play at least six hours weekly, compared to only 8% in 2010. Those who played social games in the last three months rose to 42%, compared to 28% in 2010.

Younger gamers coming to social games has brought the average age of a social game player in the U.S. down to 41.2 from 45 in 2010. Remaining the same: women social gamers still outnumber men by 55% to 45%.

Other findings from combined U.S. and U.K. data:

— In addition to playing social games on a desktop or laptop computer, more than one-third (38%) also play on a mobile phone, 20% use a game console and 10% play on a tablet.

— More than four in 10 (42%) said they have played more games over the past three months, compared to 35% last year.

— More than half (56%) of avid players — those playing more than six hours weekly) have played more in the past three months.

— Most popular sites to play social games were led by Facebook, where 91% said they played, followed by Google+ (17%), MySpace (15%) and Bebo (7%).

— Those who used real-world cash to buy virtual currency to use in social games rose 26%, compared to 14% last year.

— Most social gamers (83%) — and 86% of avid gamers — said they had played video games on other platforms such as a PC or game console prior to playing games on social networking sites.

— One-third (33%) of those who played on other gaming platforms said social games had caused them to play less on other platforms. More than half (55%) said it has remained about the same.

— Reasons for playing social games: fun and excitement (57%), competitive spirit (43%) and stress relief (42%), same top three as last year.1

What is Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

At Ata2ud Media, our philosophy of web presence begins with a simple mantra, “You have to be seen, to be heard!”  In the web world, being “seen” means being found in a web search using a popular search engine like Google, Yahoo or Bing. The order in which you appear in that search is key.  The higher the listing, the more likely your site will be visited by a user. Where your site falls in the listing is based upon search engine parameters, called an algorithm.  These algorithms favor helping the user get answers to their search questions.  Search Engine Optimizing (SEO) fine tunes your website making it more “findable” in relevant searches. However, all SEO is not the same.   

Search optimization is broken into two distinct strategies: organic and artificial.   Merriam Webster defines organic, in part, as “having the characteristics of an organism: developing in the manner of a living plant or animal.” To an SEO company, this definition describes the approach taken to achieve long-lasting results in the “natural” use of search engines. The organic strategy involves quality content building over time. Artificial SEO involves using techniques and tricks to fool the search engine and instead of depending on quality content building.

A few comparisons of the different approaches will clarify what we mean when we use the term “organic SEO” and “artificial SEO”.

Content vs. Technical Loopholes

In the SEO industry “content is king.” We would take this adage one step further.  In our experience, quality content is king. Study after study has shown that when people use search engines, they are primarily seeking one thing: quality information. They are not seeking to be impressed by fancy flash sites. They are not looking for pretty.  In SEO the quality of your site is directly proportional to the quality of the questions your site can answer.

A search engine optimization company that is truly practicing “organic SEO” recognizes this fact.  “Artificial SEO” firms, which embrace a technical loophole philosophy, will allow a company to leave its website exactly as it is, because the work that such firms do is largely technical and is designed to trick the engine into showing content that it would not otherwise show. Certainly, there are acceptable (from the engine’s standpoint) technical aspects that any good search engine optimization company will use, such as relevant page titles and Meta tags. But there are many more unacceptable technical methodologies than acceptable ones, including cloaking, redirects, multiple sites, key phrase stuffing, hidden links, and numerous others. A company practicing “organic SEO” will avoid these.

Our philosophy is to integrate a blog for deep content coupled with a twitter (micro blog) and a Facebook feed on page one of your website to get you noticed.  This strategy funnels all your real-time quality content to drive a better search profile.    

Attracting Links vs. Linking Schemes

As any SEO company knows, inbound links are critical to the success of an “organic SEO” campaign. There are different ways to go about it.

Firms that practice true “organic SEO” will look at the website itself and say “How can we make this site something that other sites would want to link to?” What new content needs to be added to create a better search profile? A search engine optimization company using “artificial SEO” will ask, “How can I get links pointing to this site without adding anything of value to it?” The latter approach usually leads to reciprocal linking schemes, link farms, and the purchase of text links.  This strategy avoids making changes to the website that entice others to link to the site.  A better strategy is to ask for a link to be reciprocated.

A solid SEO organic strategy will make certain that a site is listed in all the popular directories, such as the Yahoo Directory, the Open Directory Project, and Business.com.  This strategy will also continually seek any industry-specific directories where your site could be listed.  Using “organic SEO” means building content to your site so that it holds actual value to your prospects.  Using social media feeds and a blog gives your readers information and answers to their questions.  Isn’t that what they are searching for? In my opinion, this is much more beneficial in the long run than the artificial methodology of trying to garner incoming links that the site does not truly deserve.

Quality content, which is a resource for answering searcher questions, will get the high quality inbound links.

Creating an Expert Resource vs. Algorithm Chasing

Search engines change their algorithms frequently for two reasons. One is, of course, to improve their results based upon their most recent user interaction.  The other is to get past the tactics that get sites ranked artificially high.

The common denominator in websites that maintain their high rankings despite frequent algorithm changes is high quality content! They offer something of value (answer questions) to their visitors and are considered a resource for their industry. “Organic SEO” practitioners generally do not concern themselves with algorithm shifts.  They continue to build content making your site an expert resource in your field.   While an “artificial” SEO companies desperately try to claw their way back to rankings lost from dependence on technical loopholes.   “Organic SEO” firms continue adding valuable and relevant content to your site, strengthening its value and bolstering its rankings.

The organic approach requires you have a shift in thinking: from marketer to publisher: from salesperson to guide.  What do your prospects need to know about your product or service that can differentiate you from others? Let your website be their source to learn about your industry. Prospects are very likely to call you when they are ready to buy, as you have become their expert resource!  With “organic SEO,” you will reach people in all stages of the buying cycle, educate them, and steer them toward your solution by using your website.

Learning from Engines vs. Learning How to Exploit Them

On a regular basis, search engines engage in very expensive studies on what their users want to see when they enter search queries. “Organic SEO” firms are always positioning themselves in the search algorithm with quality content. An “organic SEO” company will try to learn and “listen” to the results of recent studies.  For example, shifting technology like the explosive growth of social media caused dramatic changes in the search algorithms.  “Organic SEO” companies now incorporate the micro blogging aspects of social media into their website build model.  “Artificial SEO” does not concern itself with user interaction studies, getting traffic.  It does not listen to the user it solely focuses on defeating the search engine algorithm.

The “artificial” approach makes results erratic, but it also raises a larger point.  What is the goal of the campaign or your website? If an “Artificial SEO” company finds a loophole in an algorithm that catapults your site to the top, but does not consider the user experience at your website, it defeats the original purpose. You want to convert traffic to customers! You may get plenty of visitors (traffic).  These will be short-term visitors who do not find what they want on your site and back out without a second thought. No conversion. Ata2ud Media believes conversion begins with getting relevant, quality and timely content.   An exceptional user experience is a function of meeting the user’s needs!

Final Thoughts on the “Organic” Approach 

An SEO company that takes a true “Organic SEO” approach will actually take the dictionary definition quite literally in building your website. A great website is like an organism, always growing and adapting to its environment.  It builds upon itself. It learns how it should behave and act in its own best interest.

At Ata2ud Media, we specialize in content that is both high quality and social.  Do you want people to hear your brand message?  Then you need to be seen! Let us help you climb the search listings in Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Do You Know Your Social Quotient?

The definition of social quotient (SQ) is essentially a brand’s capacity to manage complex social change. Well, if you think about it, businesses are being challenged to manage complex social media changes that completely redefine the way business is being conducted worldwide.  Getting a high SQ for the web 2.0 environment is maintaining a two-way conversation with customers.

Store chains for example are using Facebook pages to reach out to customers, but when customers reach back with complaints, many go unanswered.  A new study by Conversocial, found Retailers did not respond to 65 percent of complaints and questions on their Facebook pages during a five-day period in September, according to Joshua March, chief executive officer of Conversocial.   The results are from a just-completed study called “Who’s Ignoring Their Customers? A Survey of the Largest U.S. Retailers and Their Use of Social Media.”

“A lot of them probably set up these Facebook pages as marketing channels and have not considered them as customer service channels,” March told Reuters.  According to March, some retailers appeared to not monitor their Facebook pages for complaints or concerns at all, while some showed good service. A large group, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc and Macy’s Inc, are somewhere in the middle, he said.

Forty-one percent of the queries that Wal-Mart received on its Facebook page went unanswered, March said, while 35 percent went unanswered on the Macy’s page. Yet some “missed” complaints or queries might have just been a matter of the retailer dealing individually with the customer, rather than in the public space of the Facebook wall.

“Because complaints often involve credit/customer account or employment matters, our first step is typically to request the complainant email us outside of the social space with details of their issue,” Macy’s spokeswoman Holly Thomas said. “We aim first and foremost to protect our customers’ privacy by handling offline.” Macy’s is committed to reaching out to all customers who raise a complaint, she added. But solving the problem “offline” means that people looking at Facebook only see the complaint, not the resolution.

“When we speak to customers that are doing it well, they realize they need to keep as much of the discussion on Facebook as possible,” March said.  For U.S. Walmart stores, the response to Facebook queries is varied, spokeswoman Sarah Spencer said.  “We answer questions online when we can easily point customers in the right direction,” Spencer said. “The conversation is taken offline when we need to obtain personal contact information to address a question, concern or idea.” Walmart recently launched 3,500 Facebook pages for individual stores to better connect them with the company’s 9 million Facebook “fans.”

“With early Walmarts, customers would walk in a store and ask the manager to get a product or share an idea,” Spencer said. “The local Facebook pages allow us to do this on a national scale.”  Other large retailers are still trying to work out the best way for dealing with complaints on Facebook.

Grocery store operator Kroger Co was one retailer that Conversocial’s five-day study showed as not responding to any of the complaints on Facebook. The company is testing different ways of responding to customers at its individual divisions, which include Fry’s, Fred Meyer, Dillons and other brands aside from Kroger, spokesman Keith Dailey said. “Kroger is currently developing tools to make it easier for customers to contact us through social media channels,” he said.1

To get a high SQ in the demanding social world, brands will need to make responding to customers a top priority. To find our how to position yourself on web or Facebook call us today @ 713-628-0701 or find us on Facebook.com/ata2udmedia.  Do you know your social quotient?