Guest Blogger: This post was contributed by Lauren Schultz. Lauren loves to talk about dogs, social media, and her favorite team The Ohio State Buckeyes. Say hello at gplus.to/lashleyschultz or @lashleyschultz.
“Should I be on Google+?” That might be a common response to a new-ish social channel, but not for long. Your organization or business might have a blog and a presence on Twitter, Facebook and maybe even Pinterest — great! While we would never categorically recommend getting on a social network without knowing more about your organization, Google+ is definitely worth a closer look. You probably already know this, but Google+ is stepping up in social. Everyone wants to be one step ahead on social marketing these days. If you do decide to test out Google+, here are a few easy ways to get the most out of it:
Google+ is many things, but one thing is certain: It dominates the search-engine space. If you are a B2C business owner, this is gold. By simply entering in your information in Local Places, your business can be found online by more people in your area. Start by filling out your Google+ Local page, making sure to include relevant keywords. Check out my favorite half-smoke spot Ben’s Chili Bowl and its use of Google+.
Did you know Google+ just launched new features with larger photos? Posts with images typically perform better. The larger photos make the page more visually appealing and may get you more +1s (Google+’s equivalent to likes). World Wildlife Fund (WWF) does a great job at using visual content.
Did you know that you can host a free Google Hangout of up to 10 people? Consumer Electronics Association did a fantastic job of keeping attendees and non-attendees updated on happenings at its huge annual gathering with Google Hangout. Check out a Hangout on Air from the 2013 CES. Now there is a way to snap your favorite moments with Capture; a camera component that allows you to take pictures during the Hangout. You can repurpose the Hangout for content on your page, especially the organic pictures from the Hangout!
There are many tools to explore in Google+, but I want to highlight this one. By simply logging into your Gmail account, you can sign up your site for Webmaster Tools. The next step is to create a Google+ profile and include a link to that profile on your site to let Google know that the site is yours. To learn more, head over to https://plus.google.com/authorship and explore this feature. This will help Google find your site and increase your site’s visibility in searches. The Google Webmasters Tools blog has very easy-to-understand guides including photo and video tutorials. There’s also a super-helpful cheat sheet for beginners.
These Google+ features will improve engagement with potential customers and the odds that users will navigate to your page or follow you on other social channels!
What social channels do you use most? If you don’t use Google+, what’s stopping you?
Interesting tech trends can often be hard to find considering the data overload we deal with every day. Search no further; we’ve got your back! Below are 7 links that the Social Driver team found technologically cool, entertaining, and informative:
The shoe-niverse gained an awesome new addition as Google revealed an interactive shoe at this year’s SXSW. The Google Advertising team placed a small computer in the tongue of a pair of Adidas. Equipped with technology to assess your movements and connect to your phone, the shoes are fully capable of telling you to be more active if necessary. “The Talking Shoe is an experiment in how you can use connected objects to tell stories on the Web today,” said Aman Govil, head of the advertising team.
Recently announced, the new feed redesign for Facebook plans to offer minimized sidebars and a more intimate approach to convey a personalized feel. The design also plans to offer more real estate in individuals news feeds to those who promote post or own sponsored stories on Facebook. Find out more interesting changes in our What the New Facebook News Feed Redesign Means For Nonprofits post!
Could your workplace noise level (or lack there of) be hindering your creativity? Coffitivity, an online ambient noise provider, claims that studies show ambient sounds boost creativity. Using a coffee shop setting, Coffitivity suggest that working in too quiet or too loud of an environment can increase chances of unproductivity. Try it yourself! Visit Coffitivity, plug your earphones in, and let the creativity flow!
Should patients’ text or email their doctors as an added form of communication in healthcare? This question raises a lot of arguments and the article above reaches even more brow raising points. Considering digital progression and the many ways we communicate, the article shares that still less than “90% Americans have never emailed or texted with their doctor.”
Business Insider shared a list of 25 most innovative businesses in DC. From LivingSocial, a daily deals website, to Black Jack, a bar with a bocce ball court, the district is definitely home to some innovative businesses. Other interesting businesses that made their list include Capitol Bikeshare, Clean Currents, and Genius Rockets.
Nerds are not the only personalities on the programming scene. Douglas MacMillan shares the rise of the “more testosterone-fueled breed of coder.” With the onset of the “Brogrammer” meme’s floating around the Internet, the article shares interesting ideas and quotes from new age computer intellectualists who come from diverse backgrounds.
And here is an added bonus! If you often enjoy your friends’ playlists then you’ll enjoy Turntable. The online app allows a group of people to create a playlist for everyone to enjoy at the same time. Each person is deemed a DJ and has a chance at spinning their record and impressing the group. Even better, the app is also downloadable for iPhones.
What did you read about this week?
Facebook recently announced a new design of the Facebook News Feed. The design reduces the left and right sidebars and expands the main News Feed to show full-size vibrant images, offering more real estate to visual content and a set of new sub-feeds.
According to Facebook, the same stories will appear as did before, meaning that Facebook has not adjusted Edgerank, the algorithm that determines what content is posted on your News Feed. However, the design will be much more vibrant and colorful, centering around larger images.
Facebook says that this change will provide a more seamless experience between mobile and desktop viewing, but we surmise that this is an attempt by Zuckerburg to position Facebook as the premiere advertising platform for digital marketers.
With the redesign, companies’ promoted posts and sponsored stories that use images will be given more real estate in individuals’ News Feeds. So what does that mean for marketers in charge of managing organizations’ Facebook page?
Up until now, many marketers have seen huge ROI in promoted posts and sponsored stories, partly because of Facebook’s lower-than-market-value advertising rates.
Advertising experts expect that Facebook’s shift in focus on visual content will allow them to gain higher ad prices in the future. This means that the days of cheap advertising on Facebook will likely be coming to an end. We expect ad costs on Facebook and other social networks to significantly rise in the future, so plan your budgets accordingly.
Facebook already favored visual content, but this News Feed redesign further reinforces that focus. When planning your editorial calendar, try to figure out how you can share your information visually, through a photo or photo album.
Infographics are a great way to share information (and have high virality), as are images with overlaid text (think memes). If you are using text in your images, make sure you follow the <20% rule!
With the new sub-feeds, Facebook users will now have the ability to choose to filter content more heavily. As with many of the changes to News Feed, this will positively affect some marketers view rates and negatively affect others. Among other options, users can now view content posted by only their friends, effectively opting out of content from organizations who they aren’t friends with but may follow.
Users can also see content posted by all the pages they follow, content just relating to Games or Music, as well as a variety of other filters. You’ll be able to advertise in any of these feeds, but you’ll want to be mindful of the context. For example, an advertisement that shows up in the “All Friends” feed may be viewed as more disruptive as one that shows up in the “Pages You Follow” feed.
Regardless of these changes, competition for space on Facebook’s News Feed is becoming more and more cutthroat. Not only do you have to compete with other organizations, you now have to compete with larger and more prominent ad spaces integrated into the main News Feed.
On average, about 15% of your followers will see the content you publish for any given post. That means that the chances of spamming your followers is nearly impossible, unless you are posting more than 10 times a day.
At a recent Social Driver's Ed, Adam Gerber, a Senior Associate from M+R Strategic Services, discussed Facebook's promoted posts. He talked about how this tool has worked for some of his clients, sharing a step-by-step process of how to use the tool, what it does, who it reaches, and how much exposure your business could potentially receive for relatively low cost. Check back later for the video, but in the meantime we want to give you three takeaways from his experience with Facebook promoted posts:
Do not worry about slick infographics or a polished image-shares. The best images are the ones that capture your organization's goal in the most authentic way possible. All you need is a camera, a piece of paper, and a marker. Photograph a colleague holding the paper with your key ask handwritten out and sa
ve yourself the photoshopping.
If you can wrangle $10-20 bucks, then you have the budget for a couple great experiments with your promoted posts. Most people will never visit your Facebook timeline and will only see your posts in their own newsfeed so the risk of re-running similar posts is minimal. Try two variations on your call-to-action on the same day and see which wins.
Facebook wants to show your posts to people who will engage with it. Oddly enough, many of those people live in Asia where Facebook has high penetration and but little original content. That means that, unless you target your post to the United States only, you're going to get a lot of unexpected international comments, likes, and shares. It may boost your ego to see that level of engagement, but unless it contributes to your business goals, they're just a waste of money.
All things are going digital… Even the census records from 1940!
On April 2nd, The National Archives and Records Association (NARA) released individual records of the 1940 Census. Every 72 years, the census is released and this time it was scanned and digitized for the public to find online.
NARA and the US Census Bureau teamed up for a joint effort in the “40 Days To The 1940 Census” campaign to promote the release. I had the opportunity to interview Jennifer Smits, Public Affairs Specialist at the US Census Bureau and Hilary Parkinson, writer-editor of NARA to find out more about the campaign. The overall purpose of the campaign was to build excitement and anticipation for the historians, genealogists, and anyone interested in their family histories. Below are some of the lessons learned from the campaign that we can all takes bits and pieces from in the future.
The Census Bureau and NARA posted photographs from the 1930s and 1940s of civilians, enumerators, farmers, and The Great Depression. Slideshows and infographics were also posted as visual comparisons from the 1940 Census to the 2010 Census, as well as YouTube videos.. All of these images helped boost engagement, especially when asked to like, comment, and share. By posting daily facts, quiz questions, and slideshows about the 1940s, the curiosity and interest of the public grew with excitement because they had the opportunity to be involved participants in the campaign.
You do not need to create a new Twitter account to embrace your campaign because you can use hashtags instead. The hashtag proved to be beneficial for increasing engagement because users had a general hashtag “#1940census” to look for and use themselves.
The Census Bureau even reached out to popular genealogy shows on NBC and CBS. Tweeting to celebrities and television shows during air time was successful in spreading awareness to people, who may otherwise not have known about the census, and led them back to the campaign with the hashtag. Actress Rita Wilson even tweeted back! Twitter chats and Q&As provided an opportunity for users to share their curiosities and after the release, share what they found. These chats were also posted on Facebook to reach those audiences not on Twitter.
The US Census Bureau created their first 3 infographics ever to share the 1940 Census story. Story telling is important when sharing large amounts of data because people do not want to read large amounts of data. Infographics proved to be the best way to tell the 1940 Census story in a visually entertaining way. A visual of comparisons and differences between 1940 and 2010 were more appealing and engaging than words alone. This is especially true when posted on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr (by NARA), and Pinterest because users then had the chance to share, retweet, and pin. This created a larger sharing of the infographics that reached users on all platforms of the Internet, especially when picked up by the media. The Census Bureau has continued to create infographics for other data releases due to their success, and will continue to do so in the future.
On the US Census Bureau’s landing page for the 1940 Census, the interactive app of an old 1930′s Uncle Sam poster became a major hit for engaging the audience. To promote engagement, users were able to upload their favorite head-shots and place them in the face of Uncle Sam. This app provided an excellent source for people to personally connect with. Users had the chance to create and tell their own personal 1940s story by uploading their own photos and then sharing the updated poster across social media platforms. Aspects of personal connection helped promote the census by reaching out to people on a deeper level regarding their own family histories and stories.
When the census was released online, computers were really slow due to the amount of people trying to access the data. People grew quickly irritated and posted on Facebook and Twitter to NARA out of frustration. Social media once again pulled through because NARA was able to post on Facebook and Twitter that they were aware of the issues with the 1940 census server and were working on it as best they could. This provided an excellent way to reach out to mass groups of people in a time of need to clear the confusion and let them know what was going on. Once users viewed these posts, they were much more understanding of the issue and patiently waited instead.
A big thank you to Jennifer Smits and Hilary Parkinson! And If you’re interested in searching for your family, head to the digitized census here!
With the rapid and dynamic change in the digital world, we could not be more excited for the future!
Out with the old..
Office Endangered Species
We learned over at Tech Crunch that there is an ongoing list of office endangered species. LinkedIn Blog originally posted an infographic of the top 10 office tools and tends that are rapidly going out of style. This study was done by 7,000 professionals giving their two cents to what the office will be missing by year 2017.
..And in with the new!
The Leap makes Minority Report possible on your computer. Imagine an X-Box Kinect that can map movements to your individual fingers. The Leap will turn your everyday desktop monitor into a dynamic screen that you can control with the wave of your hand. Molly Wood from CNET took a trip to the Leap labs and you can watch her video here.
While some of us dream of convenient inventions, the rest of us make those dreams come true. The hotel Bellhop may be replaced in the future if the ‘Hop’ makes it to the market. We first learned about it over at Mashable. Hop is unlike anything you have ever seen before, picking up signals from your cell phone and following close behind you. Perhaps the days of carrying heavy luggage around the airport are over! Curious? Click the link to watch a video of the Hop in action.
Blogger Patrick James shares a large infographic on Co.EXIST mapping out the innovations of education technology. The idea that virtual learning environments will take the lead from the old classroom approach sparks the prediction that “65% of today’s grade-school children will end up at jobs that haven’t even been invented yet.”
LinkedIn: Whether you use it as an electronic Rolodex or your inbox is accumulating invitations from colleagues inviting you to join, Social Driver can help you get the most out of this professional social network.
We hope you join us for a very special Social Driver’s Ed event, “Getting Hands On With LinkedIn,” led by Anthony Shop. Anthony has helped hundreds of busy professionals take control of LinkedIn through his hands-on workshop geared toward beginners. Together with your peers, you will learn how to make the most of your network – find prospects, send group messages to colleagues, research companies and more. You’ll find it most useful if you bring your laptop and create a LinkedIn account (or dig out that old username and password) in advance!
This event will be hosted at Social Driver’s new HQ in Penn Quarter. We’ll provide fuel for you and your laptops!
What: LinkedIn Workshop led by Social Driver Managing Director, Anthony Shop
When: August 23rd from 12-2 PM
Where: Social Driver HQ, 406 7th Street NW, Washington DC 20004
How Much?: $50, includes lunch.
Signup to attend here.
There are many challenges that every startup faces. From scheduling to billing to sales, choosing the right tools to help you get the job done can make a huge difference. Here are our favorite tools we use everyday:
If you subscribe to our blog, you should already know we’re huge Contactually fans. Contactually’s founder, Zvi Band, created this tool for you to organize your network of contacts. Contactually remembers to keep in touch with your network for you, so you never miss an opportunity for business or professional development.
LaunchRock helps you set up a social “launching soon” page in just minutes. This service is perfect if you’re building a website, but would like to give a preview of what’s to come. You can create the landing page and promote it through LaunchRock’s Announcement Bar and your social media outlets. Work hard and you might just be featured on LaunchRock’s discovery network (coming soon).
Our friends at Hubspot have created grader.com, which is a suite of tools designed to measure and analyze your marketing efforts. There are four grades to earn. (1) Marketing.Grader.com grades your entire marketing funnel (2) Book.Grader.com is for book authors and measures how they market their books (3) TwitterGrader.com measures the power, authority, and reach of a Twitter user and (4) Search.Grader determines which keywords your website is ranking for and measures your SEO.
Are you sick of scheduling meetings and events using Google cal, iCal, email, Outlook, and every other service? Bring them together with Doodle. Doodle allows you to propose various meeting times and places to multiple recipients and to receive feedback on availability through a poll. Better yet, it’s 100% free and is available on mobile.
The innovators behind Piktochart want your information to be beautiful. They allow you to create professional and appealing infographics in under 30 minutes. Their infographics can be embedded in presentations, websites, and posted on Facebook. Say goodbye to boring pie charts and bar graphs.
Ever miss whiteboard sketch sessions? Mockups allows you to get your ideas out of your head and on to your screen without a marker and eraser. Construct a slick wireframe, get real-time feedback from coworkers and stakeholders and share it with developers within minutes.
How do you ensure your tweets don’t get lost in the black hole that is the Twitterverse? Buffer attacks this problem with a simple solution: create a queue of content you want to share, pick the times you want to share your tweets, and Buffer posts your content for you. With an elegant interface, multiple web browser plugins, mobile apps and even compatibility with major content producers, Buffer is tweeps’ best friend.
It’s hard to argue with their slogan (“Expense Reports That Don’t Suck”). Through one affordable and easy-to-use account, Expensify (1) handles bank statements, credit card bills and paper receipts (2) calculates mileage (3) syncs with Quickbooks and other accounting programs (4) helps new companies set expense regulations and (5) even has mobile apps to help you keep track of expenses on the move.
The road from lead generation to deal closing has never been smoother. Better than any spreadsheet or outline, Pipeline allows you to have real-time overview of your deal pipeline with built-in reporting, goal setting, and complete customization options. Each lead has its own email address – you can BCC emails with you leads to create a storage facility of deal history, so all members of your team are up to speed.
A fledgling startup invariably gets through an inordinate amount of paperwork and contracts. It’s easier than ever to sign contracts with business partners, clients and employees when you’re all in three different places. It’s fast, secure, and much more fun to sign your documents online.
What are your favorite tools? Let us know in the comments which ones we missed and what you use them for.
This video was shown at the opening of the Typophile Conference in Seattle in July 2007. It is an inspiring example of how we can use design to not only create something beautiful, but to tell a story. There is no identity or personal characteristics revealed in the video, just a sped up story of life told through the typography that we see everyday. I challenge you to watch this without getting a little misty-eyed.
Imagine walking into a networking reception, standing in the corner with a bullhorn, passing out 50 of your business cards to strangers without even saying hello to them, and leaving the event. How many new business leads do you think would materialize the next day? Probably none.
In an offline context, it’s pretty clear that passing out 50 of your business cards to strangers is anti-social. However, people seem to forget this lesson when communicating in the digital space with social media tools.
Imagine an organization that tweets 50 times per week – links to its website, announcements about upcoming events – without mentioning another Twitter user, using hashtags, replying to others, or retweeting. Perhaps the tweets are not even posted by an individual, but instead are shared automatically each time a press release is posted to the organization’s website. No one even logs in to see if anyone has tried to engage with them. Unfortunately, too many organizations use Twitter in this way. And unbeknownst to them, they are engaging in the futile equivalent of passing out business cards at a networking event without so much as a hello or a smile.
Offline, you’re delightful, you’re engaging, and you’re the life of the party! Online, you’re dull, you’re self-centered, and you’re anti-social.
If you or your organization seeks to use social media tools like Twitter to engage your audience and build a community, then think about what it would take to amaze people at a networking event! Ask yourself these questions: