Thursday, December 31, 2009

The clock is ticking on goal-setting for 2010

There are many reasons why setting goals this time of year is a good idea. Frankly, I cannot think of any that makes it a bad idea - so what the heck! Time to get going before the clock strikes 12... I found this blog post, How to Get Everything You Promised Done that is full of good ideas for doing exactly this so there is no reason for reinventing the mouse. It talks about kick starting your Internet Marketing for 2010 by:
  • Conquering the Initial Fear
  • Creating Bite-Sized Projects
  • Creating Milestones with Dates
  • Telling People Your Plans
  • Cultivating the Habit
  • Starting Today
Day Zero is an online project that encourages setting a list of 101 goals to be achieved in 1001 days and once set and published, steps 1 - 4 above are already done. All that is left, is to get working on those goals. Since making my list this week, I can proudly mark off two goals already because they were truly bite-sized goals. Digital Daisy signs out of 2009 with a final wish to its readers for a goal-driven, focused 2010 filled with success as you defined it.

Thanks TA for lending me your photograph from Mount Elbrus.

Monday, December 21, 2009

7 Digital Trends for 2010

Web based change has accelerated its impact on business as this decade draws to a close and we can expect to see an even bigger impact on the web as a productivity tool in the 2010.

1. Cloud computing will continue to grow. For a long time organizations have been locked into expensive operations software and costly updates. More and more companies are abandoning this in favour of tools like Google Apps to take care of email, file storage and document processing (replacing much of Microsoft Office's market share). Smaller entrepreneurial companies accomplish as much and more through these web-based applications and storage as larger organizations who are using expensive servers, load software on each work station and depend on network support. These practices are fast becoming antiquated and cumbersome and we can expect to see more cloud-based services such as Google Apps.

2. Managing social media overload. Social media has been widely adopted as a low-cost business communications and relationship-building tool. The pace at which new services become available is becoming challenging - keeping up with content generation as well as finding good sources of information. Just keeping up with Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin has become challenging. While businesses are scrambling to figure this out, users are drawn to the best, most reliable sources - especially those that can be filtered fast and effectively.

3. Web development on the fly. During this past decade we have seen a move away from hard coded websites that were under control of web masters and programmers, to sites with content management systems. Blog services such as Wordpress are blurring the lines between websites and blogs, allowing businesses to develop a custom design, hosted site at the push of a few buttons. Wildapricot.com is only one example of a low cost solution for developing a robust website for member-based organizations - at the push of a few buttons and a low monthly fee an organization will be communicating, doing event registration and have members blog on forums.

4. App marketing. Most proactive businesses have already grabbed the opportunity to develop an app for mobile phones to hook customers into its business through use of a mobile phone. Amazon.com has its app for Amazon Kindle, for example. Download the app to an iPhone for free and purchase and download a book from Amazon's store onto the iPhone all in a matter of seconds. And reading a book on an iPhone screen is not all that hard to do! This is only one example - the world opens up when you browse the Blackberry and Apple iPhone App Stores. Users will continue to use these mobile apps to increase productivity and marketers will use this for product distribution.

5. Green momentum. Environmental consciousness is gaining global momentum and legislation will undoubtedly require smaller carbon footprints - working remotely to cut down on travel, communicating digitally to save in paper and inks, distributing electronically to minimize transport and using alternative sources of electricity - perhaps solar panels on every electronic device and increased use of wireless electricity?

6. Crowdsourcing. An aging population, a new generation that works remotely and the changing work places all lead to a very different way of sourcing talent and labour. Crowdsourcing sites such as elance.com and crowdspring.com have become market places for finding low cost suppliers for knowledge-based work - writing, design, programming. This trend will continue to grow.

7. Project management as opposed to People management. With the decentralization of the workplace and supply chains, effective project management will be key to getting things done on time, within budget and according to specification. Project managers will have to be more resourceful in contracting the best solutions and project management skills will be in increasing demand.

I have no crystal ball and this is subjective trend spotting. History has shown us though, that the 2001 burst of the dot-com bubble delivered unsurpassed innovation this past decade with Web 2.0 and social media. It takes no crystal ball to predict that the current economic recession will be fertile ground for another round of profound innovation.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Digital Decade in a Nutshell

This year, 2009 and an entire digital decade is drawing to a close. It has been ten years of accelerated digital evolution - let's look back:

2000
The millennium turned with the tremours of the dot-com bubble and a search engine called Google emerging.

Soon thereafter Napster rocked the world with its music sharing and, while it got rapped over the knuckles and shut down, it paved the way for Internet technology that turned the music industry on its head. Enter left stage: iTunes.

E-commercialization
The commercialization of the web continued during this decade - who remembers that the culture of the web in the 90s was still collaborative and largely non-commercial? This past decade buying and spending online have made us fearless with booking our travel on the web. Boarding passes are now emailed to smart phones - no more paper.

Wireless Devices
Speaking of which - 2001 introduced the Blackberry, the first really small handheld device that received email. Adding wireless modems to most computing devices meant that desktop computers and laptops largely gave way to netbooks in Starbucks or anywhere a signal can be accessed. Today, the receiving device can be anything from an iPod, a smart phone, a TV game console or an ultra light notebook. I thought I was really futuristic when I predicted that any device that can have a screen, such as a fridge, will ultimately access the Internet - only to be told it already existed.

Apple iPod
Today, with the iPhone an almost indispensable item, it is hard to imagine that the device that would revolutionize our digital consumption, the iPod digital music player, entered our worlds only in 2001. The introduction of multi-touch screen browsing perfected the experience to the all encompassing digital partner that the iPhone would become.

Netbooks and Cloud Computing
2005 started a new mission: One Child One Laptop. This initiative launched research into affordable technologies that in 2008 manifested it in smaller and smaller portable computers - netbooks. Of course offering less storage space, these netbooks encourage an increased movement to storing information "in the clouds" - a term used for remote storage of files that is who-knows-or-cares-where. What to do with my floppy disks and zip disks, when I can no longer find a disk drive to access them?

Search and Wikis
Search Engine algorithms changed the consumption of information - writing became all about keywords and phrases. The vast impact of search on our society is a topic for a blog post all on its own but let's suffice to say it introduced a whole new economic model - freeconomy. Online services became free to the consumer because search engine advertisers picked up the tab.

Microsoft recently announced the termination of its encyclopedia software, Encarta. This is just one more sign of change - wikis and search engines provide the information we look for, resulting in the death of the encyclopedia.

In 2007 Google officially took over from Microsoft as the world's most powerful brand. It continues its quest to deliver amazing tools online for free in exchange for advertiser dollars. Google's Adsense led the way with paid online search advertising, followed by competitors Yahoo and Microsoft's Bing.

Voice over the Internet - VOIP
VOIP or Voice-Over-IP was made available to the masses with the launch of Skype in 2003, changing how we use the telephone. People now had access to a free way of making online phone calls - via the Internet.

Social Media and Web 2.0: From Consumer to Co-Creator
When the decade reached its halfway mark, things started speeding up with a wave of innovation, broadly referred to as web 2.0.

The latter part of the 2000s accelerated a movement of sharing and exposing our lives online. Facebook and MySpace became the poster kids for social media and networking online. 2006 brought another milestone with the launch of YouTube, making online video accessible to the masses.

In 2000 web content was at the mercy of the webmaster. From 2007 onwards the user-experience increasingly became an experience of co-creating rather than merely consuming - starting with blogs, online photo albums, interactive maps, content management systems and social network sites. The new abbreviation was UGC - user-generated content.

The News
This decade in review would not be complete without a look at how the delivery of news has been impacted. The unexpected unsuccessful 2001 marriage of AOL and Time Warner hinted at what was to come... Radio and TV moving online and traditional news producers such as BBC and CNN integrating the web in their news delivery. The jury is still out on how to make this pay. The demise of the printed news made space for media rich interactive online conversation.

2009
The first generation born with a computer in their homes, starts entering the work force. Social media has become a lifestyle: creating content, sharing and creating mashups from content published by others and having online conversations.

Our vocabulary has been enriched with verbs such as googling, friending, tagging, trending, tweeting, flirtexting and facebooking.

Mobile marketing is becoming main stream through the use of "apps" - little miniature programs loaded onto smart phones that can do stuff for us - from recommending wine with our meal to playing games on our phones to shopping online.

This is the tip of the 2000 - 2009 digital iceberg - there is so much more. "What is coming for the next decade?" you may ask. Any answer would merely be a guess but, judging by trends these past years, the Internet would likely continue to become more accessible, smaller, faster, more innovative and participative.

So before we hit 1 January 2010 I am off to plan my digital party - hitting the surf on Google Wave and breaking new ground. That is just after posting this blog, checking my web stats, doing my daily tweet, checking for innovative new talks on ted.com and seeing who is on Facebook this morning. What a decade!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

5 Things to Know About Social Media

The November edition of Profit Magazine has a wealth of tips and information for the small business owner. One article in particular, fits right within Digital Daisy's domain: 5 things to know about social media. Here is an extract from the article that contains perspectives from Jess Sloss, a Vancouver social media strategist:

1. You're probably doing it already - off line
The small businesses that really get social media are the ones who are already doing it (off line). These are the people who are already active in their communities and active in their networking efforts - it's just an online extension of this, and another way of connecting to people.

2. You don't personally have to be "on" 24/7
If you can't maintain your social networking messages on a daily basis, use the tools available that let you be more effective, such as batch processing, which allows you to schedule events ahead of time.

3. It's just another element of marketing
You still need all the basic tenets of marketing: knowing who your potential customers are, the position you have in the market - nothing changes. This can help focus your efforts on the networks your customers are most likely to be on, whether that's Facebook, Twitter or popular youth sites like myYearbook.

4. Don't blow your budget
You can get into social media marketing on a shoestring - most of the tools and sites are free, which is a boon for micro-businesses and sole-proprietors. The trade-off of course, is your time. For companies that can't dedicate marketing staff to manage blog messages or reply to social media site feedback, take a lesson from busy celebrities and outsource or assemble a social networking team. Many of those high-profile tweets and blogs - fro Britney to Obama - are written by trusted staff.

5. It works if you can be yourself
The two things that can make you fail are fear and not being yourself.
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Fewer than 3 in 10 small businesses (28%) are using social networking to promote their business, according to a 2009 Harris/Decima survey for BMO. Only 18% use these sites to sell their products, and 14% are using them to test new ideas.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NY Times Tells us Why Facebook for Promoting Business

New York Times today makes a compelling case for using Facebook for business. As many already know, this social network offers an increasing array of tools for creating a Facebook Page that can easily replace a website in the cash-strapped early days of a small business.

Consider this example: "For Mr. Nelson, this is serious business. He and his wife, Candace, own Sprinkles, a cupcake bakery that relies on social media in lieu of traditional advertising. Mr. Nelson considers Facebook marketing essential. “People are out there talking about your business everyday, whether you’re looking or not,” he said. “This gives people a place to come and speak directly to us.”

Sprinkles uses Facebook to give customers a whiff of what’s cooking. Every day it posts a password on Facebook that can be redeemed for a free cupcake. Since April, its fan base has risen tenfold to 70,000."

Applying innovative thinking to Facebook could bring you face-to-face with a vast number of eyeballs who are ready to buy too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why Companies Need Websites

Many Crawford of Roaring Women interviewed Deborah Bourden, founding partner of Applecore Interactive about the changing role of websites in the SME marketing mix. Deborah talks about how websites are changing and how to strategically incorporate web 2.0 into your web marketing. The interview is filled with practical advice and real-life experience - ideal for the small to medium business that wants to turn its web marketing into results.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Small Businesses Spend Online

A recent City Bank/GfK Roper survey indicates that small-business (76%) owners are still not finding their feet and their dollars on social networking sites. An even larger % (86%) have not used social networking sites to get advice, business or information.

The survey indicates that small-business owners (61%) depend on search engine marketing to deliver the best value. 57% of small-business owners indicate that they have made greater use of their company’s website to generate business leads and sales during the past year.

Survey respondents are also using email marketing (28%) and online advertising (25%) to generate business leads and sales.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Video: How Twitter Can Help Achieve Business Objectives

Twitter must currently be the most confusing social tool with ordinary mortals trying to understand how to use Twitter as a business tool. One of my favourite tweets comes from @nltweets with daily tweet-releases of travel ideas and deals in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dr. Ralph Wilson's Web Marketing Today had this video post with ideas for using Twitter for customer service, selling and fund raising.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ways to Manage Your Online Reputation

The increase of user-generated content, comments and reviews on the Internet leaves your business vulnerable to unsolicited comments. All you need is to Google, Yahoo or Bing your business name to find what is being written about you - and not always BY you.

In this article, "Three Best Ways to Improve Your Online Reputation" the Wall Street Journal Online provides this advice:
1. Reach out immediately to dissatisfied reviewers.
2. Flood search engines with content you can control.
3. Appeal to bloggers to review your company or your product.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Internet Marketing takes Team Work


If you're a business owner or manager that believes someone else can create your company web site or Internet marketing campaign without your direct involvement, read on...

A successful web project - whether it involves your web site or an Internet marketing campaign, requires your involvement as small business owner on some level. Discuss this up front before signing a contract. Typically this would include:

  • setting the objectives for the project,
  • providing the text in draft format, and
  • approving the structure, design and the final project before launching it.
The stronger and better the team work between you and your supplier, the more effective the end results will be.

Progress Meetings
When working with a web development or Internet marketing company on an ongoing basis (such as for ongoing search engine marketing or social marketing), schedule regular meetings to discuss progress and results. Whether you delegate responsibility for your Internet marketing to someone in your business or handle it yourself, as business owner the buck stops with you.

Password Control
Another important role business owners / managers play, is to ensure that you control all passwords that relate to your Internet marketing. Ensure that you have a copy of every username and password - from domain registration to hosting to statistics to social networking sites (such as Facebook) to electronic newsletter services. Control its secure storage and who has access to it. Do not open your business to risk by leaving password control uncontrolled.

Measurement, Analytics and Setting Objectives
The last responsibility is the responsibility for measurement. When starting a web marketing process, you have certain clear objectives in mind. Ensure that they are met by measuring.

Ask your web programmer to integrate Google Analytics (free) into every page of your site and review these statistics regularly.

Almost every online initiative has some form of statistical measurement built in - online advertising, e-news communication, web statistics to name a few. Developing and managing a measurement strategy will help you stay on top of your results.

Finding the Right Web Contractor

Negotiate Upfront
When you build or extend your house, you're highly aware of the importance of finding the right contractor, negotiating the price to include all known costs upfront and getting a time line nailed down.

Ask for Referrals and Check References
A successful web project requires the same. Find a web developer by asking your colleagues and associates who they worked with and whether they'll refer their web development company or look for sites you like and ask the owners who developed their site and whether it was a good experience.
  • Know clearly what you want to achieve before you start the process.
  • Check client references upfront.
  • Get competitor quotes if you have never worked with this contractor before and getting as much as detail into your quote to make you feel comfortable that you know what is included and excluded.
  • Negotiate a written contract that includes who will work on your project, costs, a time line, what your and the supplier's responsibilities will be and what the payment schedule will be.
  • Do not pay in full until the work is completed as per contract.
  • However, be fair and if you change the scope of the project, be prepared to cover the cost implications.
Here is a suggested list of questions to ask a web developer before deciding to allocate the project.

A Case for a full-service Internet Marketing Company
An important point to remember is that a web designer and a web programmer or developer are separate roles requiring different skills - just like a builder and an architect. In most cases freelancers specialize in one or the other, but rarely equally in both.

If you would like to discuss an online strategy, you'll again need a different skill set and may be best served talking to a full service interactive marketing agency.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Where would we be if we could not laugh!

Further to last week's blog post about the pigeon that outpaced Telkom's broadband connection, this recent cartoon that appeared in the South African press:

Linked Data and Digital Daisy

I was watching Sir Tim Berners-Lee's TED talk on Linked Data and yes, I was excited about the ground-breaking concept the father of the World Wide Web is now working on, but just exciting were two of the slides he used:
What a fabulous way to illustrate what Digital Daisy Inc.'s mission is: Taking data, systems, technology, information relationships and creating a flower garden of fabulous user experiences - helping businesses and organizations harness the square stuff ("digital") to create the sweet fragranced growing and inspiring client experiences ("daisy"). I could not do illustrate it any simpler!

Watch Sir Tim speak - it is an enlightening glimpse into where information is going to be.

(Thanks John for alerting me to it!)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

So what is your definition for Web 3.0?

A journalist asked me this in an interview this week. My answer was that I do not believe that there necessarily will be a web 3.0. There was not a web 1.0, was there?

Beyond the Information Age
What then is the next big thing? It is the evolution of the wonderful things the Information Age has brought us and it has landed us "wham bam" in the middle of the Innovation Age. We now have the tools to create and share (photos, videos, stories, podcasts and more). Moreover, we are having FUN again... mashing up web content from everywhere for our own creative end result.

Take this blog as an example. I don't have copyright to most of the images I post here (oops) but I use the wonderful creativity of others, blend it with my own, to serve up something entirely new. It is no longer about simply sharing information. It is about innovation - telling a story in a whole new way by using puzzle pieces from all over the web. We have come to expect the unexpected.

Making Money with Social Media
The second question that had me pondering: "How is anyone making money through social media?" Well, we know the Google model of building traffic through tons of free stuff and then letting advertisers cough up for targeting groups of eyeballs.

We're moving from business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) distribution to consumer-to-consumer selling. Hence the phenomenal growth of online classified
sites like Kijiji. But more so, selling that bypasses commerce sites altogether.

Recently a friend updated her status on Facebook: "I cannot believe I am selling my very first vehicle." Response: "Why r u selling?" Second comment: "What year and model?" And so the conversation continued with comments from friends. A few days later my friend's status read: "It was hard to see her go." A much softer sell than we are used to for secondhand vehicles but the largest part of this deal was done in a social network.

So what about 3.0?
So, back to my definition of web 3.0... Firstly, I am not sure I like the phrase because simply, it lacks creativity. Secondly, I am witnessing an evolution from the Information Age to the Innovation Age. Thirdly, commercial models are changing and social networks are allowing us to cut out the middle man.

And lastly, I believe the user-experience will dominate. Away with visible browsers and connections to the Internet. All that will matter is that we have a great seamless digital experience, not caring about where the files are, how it downloads, where results are stored, what device we experience it on, or how it is processed.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

South African Pigeon faster than ADSL


A news story on BBC today reports on the slow data transfer speeds a South African company experienced through its Telkom broadband Internet. Frustration led to an experiment where a 4 GB USB stick was attached to the leg of a homing pigeon set free to carry the data 60 miles between the company's two offices. Obviously this would not be a news story if the pigeon did not win, delivering the data in the same time it took the high-speed connection to transfer only 4% of the same data. Read both the story and see the video on the BBC site.

My visit to Cape Town, South Africa earlier this year gave me a taste of tech reality when my favourite practice of watching YouTube videos dwindled to the occasional luxury or watching the video download rather than watch the content. There is no blame placed on a continent or country that deals with the reality of providing basic services compared to a privileged world of technology where we sometimes forget to talk to each other. And make no mistake, at times the "high-speed" actually picked up quite a bit of speed!

It caused me to reflect on the potential of Internet connectivity in developing countries where education and the reality of rural areas separated by great distances are daily issues. What if? What if broadband Internet were available to all children who do not have access to teaching resources? What if it contributed to health care, to peaceful dialogue, to global collaboration, to economic development? What if providing broadband Internet to every citizen were as important as providing schooling, hospitals and roads?

Access to information on the Internet is an equalizer in a world that is far from equal and an 11-month old pigeon may have given us an exaggerated and humorous glimpse of it. A pigeon is carrying its message (ironically this time through a BBC website) that its time to get off our high-tech horses and put our money where our mouse is.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Psychology of Facebook Members and Fans

A recent experiment in user psychology in Facebook Groups highlighted some unexpected findings. Add your comment below - we would love to hear how you feel about the issue.

Popularity of Facebook Groups and Pages for businesses, causes and celebrities is growing at warp-speed. If open to the general public, anyone can join such a group or page.

Facebook Pages differ from Facebook Groups in as far as being an independent "mini interactive website" whereas the Group more resembles a personal profile dedicated to a specific topic. Common to both is its subscriber base: Groups have members joining and Pages have fans.

Social networks like Facebook grow based on group movements. Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff refer to this movement as a "groundswell" in their book with the same title. Social groups will not be dictated to or pressurized. Trends grow out of mass opinion and preference.

Recently I experimented by sending an email out to all 86 members of a Facebook Group I administer, called Growing Your Business Online to encourage greater participation in group comments. Guess what happened? The next day the group members declined to 84!

This raised the question: Do group members object to being subjected to unsolicited mail? Membership is voluntary and passive and as soon as there is any direct targeting, is it a breach of what they initially signed up for: passive participation?

What is your experience? How do you feel when a Facebook Group emails you directly? Is it OK or not OK?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Benefits of Blogging

The visual and functional difference between a blog and a web site is becoming less and less noticeable and even when it is apparent, the reader does not seem to care all that much.

A blog offers many benefits over and above using it as an opportunity to expand your digital footprint. Having a web site and a blog is like having two tickets for the lottery draw - a bigger chance of winning the jackpot.


Create your own voice online
Your blog is your place where you can express yourself or your brand online in your own words. It may also be the place where the media checks in to read what the latest developments in your business may be. When fighting bad publicity, your blog becomes the place to set the record straight or to provide the latest news. Post photographs, videos or downloadable files to add interest to your blog.

Influence what is being said
The job of a press release can now largely achieved through your blog. You have control over the messages, information and timing of your blog posts. Use these to shape the information that is out there about your brand.

Establish yourself as an expert
By selecting a niche topic to blog about, you have the opportunity to establish yourself as an expert. The same can be achieved by commenting on blog posts of other bloggers on your niche topic (e.g. Dining in St. John's). You never know when you'll be called upon for your services once you become known.

Publish without delay
Blogging sites such as Blogger, Workpress and Typepad offer free blogs that is intuitive and easy to use. Your blog post is live on the web as soon as you press "Publish Post". When your message is time sensitive, your blog will be available immediately.

Faster search engine results
Blog content changes more regularly than web site content and recognizing this, search engines have altered their algorithms to give preference to blog content in some cases. By blogging on a topic you may harness the power of Google to get results even before changes to your web site can be made.

Obtain feedback
Your blog can be a powerful tool for doing market research. Blog posts allow for comments and these comments can be an indicator of what your consumer public is thinking about your brand.

Start a conversation
Blog writing is generally more casual than web site content. By writing in such a way that the reader feels compelled to comment, you can start a conversation (comment to their comment) that can be the beginning of an online business relationship.

Build your brand
All the above activities contribute to building your brand. This is the opportunity to establish your brand identity unfiltered by media or advertising but by communicating directly with your consumer. In stead of one way communication like in advertising, your blog has potential for a lively brand conversation.

Fight fires
Things go wrong. Customers get unhappy. When this is expressed online it can be bad for business. When you become aware of any bad publicity, your blog can help to set the record straight.

Create followers
Your blog fans can now sign up to follow your blog, By encouraging your customers to sign up to become followers of your blog, you create a direct communication line between you and your customer and you can now tailor your blog content to your followers.

Integrate across social media
The current wave of social media is all about integrating between platforms. As you can see with Digital Daisy's blog, there is an app that allows integration of my Facebook Page with this blog, a Linkedin poll and more. In the same way I am able to share the link to this blog in my online profile on various sites. My blog posts can feed directly to my Facebook page or Plaxo profile etc. Such integration vastly increases the exposure and impact of your blog.

This list is by no means definitive. Please add your own benefits or examples in the comments box.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Improve Sales: Free E-book

This is a free e-book that I downloaded from Infusionsoft.ca. The author provides nine building blocks to double your sales. If you choose to download the book, please pay the author, Clate Mask, the courtesy of visiting his website.

Monday, August 3, 2009

"How To" Content Popular

A quick view at my blog stats confirms that "How To" content is some of the most popular web content that is being searched.

After many months of blogging How to set up a Picasa Web Album and How to Create a Facebook Page for your Business rank top of the Digital Daisy blog.

Watch out for more "How To" content...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

How to Create a Facebook Page for Your Business

The business application of Facebook is growing fast and it has become an inevitable part of an online footprint for your business. Called Facebook Pages, this application has made it possible to develop a collection of online pages similar to a web site using the free tools provided by Facebook. At heart it remains a social marketing application like your personal Facebook profile, but it allows for many useful business applications.

You can:
  • Create a page that will be found independently by search engines (as if it were a business web site)
  • Add additional tabs or pages to your Facebook Page (Notes, Events, Reviews, Videos and more)
  • Determine which page will open first. The Wall is by default the home page.
  • Use your Wall page as a place to generate discussions, do market research and showcase news feeds through status updates.
  • Obtain a vanity URL for your business as soon as you have more than 100 fans (such as http://www.facebook/etsy for the online craft e-commerce site etsy.com).
  • Market your unique Facebook URL on promotional material and business cards.
  • Appoint one or more administrator(s) to update the content of your Page
  • Add photos, videos and information on a regular basis.
  • Send an email to all fans at once (but use this feature with discretion).
  • Have your Page go viral. Your Page updates will show in the news feeds of your fans’ profiles where their friends could in turn see it and choose to join or comment – and so the circle widens.
How to Create Your Page
Facebook currently offers three main categories in which to create a presence online: Personal Profiles, Facebook Groups and Facebook Pages. It is this last category we are exploring here.

Personal Profile
To start creating a Facebook Page for your business and have all its options available to you, you need a personal user profile. Do not be concerned: fans of your Page will not have access to your personal information.
You can create your Page first and then link it to your existing personal profile or create a new one if needed. It is possible to create a Business account only but certain limitations will apply.

Signing Up At the bottom of the Facebook Home page is the option to Create a Page for a celebrity, band or business. Select the Create a Page link and follow the steps from there. The options for Pages are "Local", "Band, Product or Organization" or "Artist, Band or Public Figure" Each main category offers a drop-down list in its sub-categories. The option that gets chosen here will determine which fields are available in the Page template that you create, so consider this choice carefully.

Facebook Pages come pre-installed with custom functionality for each Page category. These are the applications and information fields Facebook believes will be most relevant to the category you have selected when creating your Page. For instance, a music Page comes pre-installed with a music player, video player, discography, reviews, tour dates, and a discussion board. The information fields that are available for you to write in are determined by the Page category that you selected when you first set up the Page. You aren't able to change the category of your Page after you've created it, so if you would like different fields, you'll need to delete your Page and create a new one.


Fill Your Page with Interesting Items

Before adding content to your Facebook Page, decide what your main objective with the Page is, who your main audience is and what key messages you would like to convey.

Photo Albums
- Select the Photos tab to create photo albums and post and share photos. These can be product photos, images of your facilities, your team or business activities. A picture is worth a thousand words.

Notes - Think of Facebook Notes as a blog feature on Facebook: you can share your life,
activities, thoughts and more with people on Facebook through written entries. They can
comment on your Notes and you can even import your existing blog from an external site.

Discussion Boards - Discussion Boards can be used by you to spark a conversation among
people you are connected to and get feedback on a particular topic or for users to start
discussions on their own.

Events - Set up an event and invite fans and friends. An open house, a sale, a launch event or a celebration, fundraiser or client appreciation event - these are a few examples. Add photos, videos and relevant information. Post links and start and generate comments.

Additional Tabs - Add additional tabs as needed to your Page. Move and drag them around into a different order. In your settings, choose which tab you'd like as your home page. Search and add applications with additional tabs as appropriate.

Marketing Your Page
Once your site is complete and published, it is time to promote it and invite friends to become fans. Once you hit the 100-fan mark you are eligible for a vanity URL such as facebook.com/etsy.

There are numerous ways to promote a Facebook Page, which will be a topic for next time. Don't be afraid to try and experiment.

Other Resources
Guide to Facebook for Business

Yah-Bing grabs 30% of Online Ad Market

Microsoft and Yahoo announced a deal today that combined will give them a larger, more credible share of the online advertising market - leaving 65% to Google. In this consolidation the online advertising market is now controlled by two rival companies. Combined with the impact Bing has had on the Search market since its recent launch, the online search and advertising markets has seen a significant shift in power this year. Here is more on the Microsoft/Yahoo merger...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Honestly! What's With Sponsored Ads?

Doing a quick search to find out what search engines are saying about me, brought me to this: the ultimate sponsored advertising insult! Digital slave trading? Well, I thought I'll quickly set the record straight: I am not on the market. And smarter.com does not seem to be quite that smart either.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Blueberry Recipes and E-mail marketing

Yes, if you clicked through from the Digital Daisy e-newsletter you were right of course. This post is about recipes as well as testing the click-through rate on the recipe link. You landed in the right spot.

Tineke's Blueberry and Lemon Pastries

This amazing recipe is a staple at Tineke Gow’s Campbell House and the Artisan Inn in Trinity, Newfoundland. It has topped off many an amazing meal in the Twine Loft.

Crust:

1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup yellow corn meal
6 tbsp. icing sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Filling:
3 large eggs
1/2 cup of sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. milk (Tineke recommends whole milk)

2 cups of wild blueberries (10 oz)
3 tbsp. apricot jam, heatd and strained

To make crust:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a buttered 8 inch square glass baking dish with 2 sheets of foil, overlapping them in opposite directions so there is overhang on all four sides.
  3. Pulse together flour, cornmeal, salt, icing sugar and butter until mixture resembles course meal.
  4. Press into bottom of baking dish and 1 inch up the sides. Bake in the middle of the oven until golden brown, about 20 min.

Make filling while crust bakes:

  1. Whisk together eggs, sugar, flour and zest.
  2. Whisk in the juices, mlk and a pinch of salt.
  3. Toss blueberries with jam into another bowl.
  4. Whisk egg mixture and immediately pour into crust.
  5. Bake until set, about 17 minutes.
  6. Gently spoon berries evenly over top and bake 2 minutes more.
  7. Transfer baking dish to a rack and cool.
  8. Drizzle with a little Grand Marnier. (Or Vanderhum)
  9. Chill overnight. Use foil to lift out of dish and cut into squares.

Tineke’s team services it on a beautiful glass plate, with a bit of sifted powder sugar and a few miniature pansy flowers from her garden as garnish.

Audrey’s Blueberry Muffins

2 c flour
2/3 c sugar
2/3 c milk
1 c berries
1 t vanila
2 t baking powder
2/3 c margarine or butter
2 eggs

Mix sugar and margarine. Add eggs. Add vanilla. Add flour and milk. Add berries last, stirring gently so that berries remain in tact.

Bake 15 minutes at 400 degrees F.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Social Time Trap

"This is probably just me, but Linkedin reminds me of a garage sale, Facebook of a cocktail party, and Twitter of a flea market. Keep a log of how much time you spend on social platforms. Then ask yourself if you could probably learn to play the oboe in half as much time." - Alan Weiss, Consultant and Author

I think Alan prefers spending time sending e-newsletters. And he has a point.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Human 2.0

Almost 22 years of my career have been spent doing some form of digital communications with a large portion of it involving the Internet. To say it is a big part of my life is an understatement.

However, events of the past six months have me contemplating the role of this digital world in our lives. Personally, it has been a time of loss and learning - in March my mom passed away in South Africa and with it, my last biological connection to the generation before me. Recently my daughter graduated and moved to the west coast of the continent - about as far as possible from home while still staying within Canada.

Like any proud parent I recently posted her graduation pictures online with my sister's immediate response: "Mom would so have loved to see these. She always studied them so intently whenever you emailed pictures."

The loss of a human connection suddenly hit me - the digital connection that spanned a 11,000 km continental divide reached its limit. No wireless signal or fiber optic cable could bring back the comfort of someone who always silently cheered me on. Neither can Skype or a text message produce a good night hug from my daughter at the end of a day.

This past Christmas I spent recuperating after my first experience of fairly serious illness. For the first time, three of our four children spent Christmas away from home and many of our closest friends celebrated with family in far away places.

In hospital, a Blackberry was my connection with the outside world at a time when everyone frantically decorated homes, bought and wrapped gifts, and filled the kitchen with the smells of Christmas. I managed one-handed status updates and brief emails but when I finally recovered at home, experienced one of the most disconnected times of my life.

"So, what then is the point of this sentimental blog?" you may ask.

It is about a realization that web 2.0 and its much praised social networking is not all that social after all. Despite all that I created through my digital connections, it is a miserable replacement for Human 2.0 - a touch, a smile, a warm heart and a sincere "You Go Girl!"

Monday, June 15, 2009

Getting the Price Right: Effective Estimating

This is an excellent article that analyzes what it takes to estimate a web or design project accurately, what the secret and hidden pitfalls are and how to avoid them.

If, as a client, you wonder why the price is not right, then take a read.  If, as a developer, you are frustrated by losing your bids or under-estimating, this is also for you:

It is possible to drastically increase the accuracy of your web project estimates by:
  1. Identifying the reasons why underestimating is so common
  2. Understanding why it is so important
  3. Resisting the temptation to get granular
  4. Creating a consistent, methodical and re-usable estimating process
  5. Analysing the estimated versus actual data from multiple projects to identify trends
Read the complete Smashing Magazine article for discussion on each step.