Friday, July 27, 2012

The First Social Olympics – London 2012

Courtesy of paypromedia.com
Posted by Amanda Walsh


The city of London has spent years building and preparing for the 2012 Olympic Games, while fans on social media have been buzzing with excitement and anticipation. The London Eye is even being lit up in different colors based on Twitter users' sentiments throughout the games! 


Even though the opening ceremony doesn't commence until this evening, some athletes have already been hard at work in the competition. Mashable compiled some of the photos, tweets and status updates from the female soccer players that began competing in the tournament yesterday. This large amount of social media activity on the first day of competition is surely an indicator of how social media will continue to play an integral role in the 2012 Olympic Games.


Courtesy of Time Magazine
It’s been four years since the 2008 Olympic Games and social media has grown in popularity by leaps and bounds. “Why Social Media Will Reshape the 2012 Olympics” takes a look at the three most popular social media platforms that users are utilizing to engage and follow the Olympics - Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. There has been an explosion of user engagement and growth on these platforms over the last four years.
  • Facebook in 2008 – 100 million users
  • Facebook today – more than 900 million users
  • Twitter in 2008 – six million users
  • Twitter today – more than 500 million users
  • YouTube in 2008 – users uploaded 10 hours of video per minute
  • YouTube today – users upload 72 hours of new video per minute


Due to this growth in daily usage, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has published social media guidelines that must be followed by all athletes and coaches. Some are worried that the guidelines are too restrictive. But according to ReadWriteWeb, the IOC has every right to create and distribute a social media policy. Athletes are contractually obligated to follow the established social media guidelines. Implementing a social media policy to ensure that all participants know what is and isn't acceptable to share is a wise decision.


However, with a global event of this size, each social media infraction will have to be considered on a case by case basis. The offender will most likely be asked to remove the content, but as we all know once a tweet or post is out there, it is difficult to remove it completely. Just ask Paraskevi Papachristou, the Greek triple jumper, who has already been suspended from the games for posting a racist tweet.


We'll see how social media usage affects the games and athletes as the competitions get underway. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to feeling like I'm a part of the action via social media while I watch and cheer for the USA!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Optimal Auto Sharing from Hootsuite

Posted by Amanda Walsh 

They say that you can use social media productively with just 15 minutes a day. Perhaps during that time you find several industry articles that you want to share with your audience, but don’t want to bombard them with a continuous blast of tweets or posts. Hootsuite just announced its new “Optimal Auto Sharing” hootlet app, which takes all the guessing out of when to schedule posts. The app schedules your posts for specific times throughout the day or night without any input from you.

According to The Next Web article, the app "analyzes users’ social activity (and their followers’), automatically delivering each message at an optimal time to avoid swamping followers with too many updates at once.” 

The new app can be downloaded directly into your Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox web browser. By simply clicking on the hootlet app in your browser toolbar, you can share posts at regular intervals seamlessly. Just click the calendar to schedule the post, make sure that the "AutoSchedule" option is selected, click the button to confirm and you're done!

No one likes to be overwhelmed with numerous consecutive tweets or posts from the same person on social media. Even worse, other users can choose to ignore your articles or consider your posts to be spam. We think this tool is pretty neat so far because it doesn't require much more than a few clicks of the mouse and you know the article is being shared with your followers across many social media outlets.




Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Death of the QR Code?

Courtesy of FastCompany.com
Posted by Amanda Walsh


Remember QR codes? Those funny looking black and white boxes that seemed to be popping up everywhere? If you’re not familiar with what a Quick Response (QR) Code is, that’s ok and you may not be alone.


A QR Code is a type of barcode that is used to store information and share it with the user who scans the barcode with their smartphone. The code could take the user to a video, a v-card for contact information or a website. For more, check out the Wikipedia article.


In this Mashable.com article, 5 Reasons why QR Codes are broken, Dan Wilkerson questions the real-world uses of QR codes and outlines a few reasons why QR codes may have not taken off in popularity as expected.


A study of college students by ArchRival “found that out of 534 of our nation’s best and brightest, 78.5% didn’t know how to scan a QR code.” It seems that those outside of the marketing realm have little, if any, idea what QR codes are. Marketers need to overcome that challenge by building awareness and including directions on how to scan the code and what phone apps to use.


Marketers love QR codes for their ease of creation, traceability and affordability, but many consumers just don’t see the benefits, continues Wilkerson. Consumers need an enticing reason to scan the code. This is why it’s imperative to include some type of call to action and incentive. Some incentives might include a free e-book or whitepaper or a steep discount for a service or product. And, if it takes too much effort, the likelihood that a consumer will engage with the QR code and scan it is very low.


Wilkerson notes the importance of location of the code on your marketing material. QR codes have popped up on billboards, on food, buildings and even on banners flown by airplanes. How is anyone going to get close enough to scan a flying QR code while it flies 30,000 feet in the air? When considering location, the code needs to be easily accessible for the consumer to scan and benefit from the information.


“At Furia Rubel, we serve many professional service clients who may or may not be using QR codes in their marketing mix,” said VP of Marketing Laura Powers. “A few effective ideas, that take into consideration some of the snafus above, include putting QR codes on business cards for v-card downloads, directing people to special landing pages on mobile-optimized websites and offering videos that quickly supply important information.”


If your QR code entices someone to scan it, make sure it’s worth their while to do so and give them good, relevant and useful content to share.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Top Tips for E-Communications Layouts


Posted by Laura Powers

Marketing materials delivered via email should be branded, well-designed and full of rich audience-centric content. When going through the stages of design, it is important to keep in mind best practices and industry standards. One design item we are frequently asked about is email width and sizing. The maximum sizing that is recommended is 600 pixels wide, the typical width of an email viewing pane.

Contactology.com explains that even as computer display monitors become larger, the email industry standard remains around 600 pixels wide due to the small number of folks that have a computer with smaller screen resolution. If the content of your campaign exceeds 600 pixels in width, some webmail clients may require the user to scroll horizontally to view all of your content. When a user has to take the extra step of clicking the scroll bar to see all your content, the campaign faces the danger of not capturing the user’s full attention.

The service provider Vertical Response also recommends that users stick to 600 pixels wide for email layouts to plan for the preview pane. The average pane is 600 pixels wide by 200 pixels tall, but that is going to vary by recipient since each individual’s preview pane is adjustable. Make sure that easily digestible content is at the top of the page that will drive the recipient to take action or read more.

MailChimp.com, another popular e-communication service provider, has a wide variety of resources available for email communication best practices and tips. How to Use Templates is a useful guide for understanding structure and layout standards.

In conclusion, many factors go into successfully planning and managing company e-communication campaigns. The goal is to have your target audience view, read and share the email’s content easily. When planning the design it is important not only to incorporate the brand, colors and images, but to follow industry standards and best practices even for something that may seem simple like layout size.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Big Changes Coming to Look and Feel of LinkedIn

Posted by Amanda Walsh


LinkedIn is quietly rolling out a major site redesign to their more than 161 million users worldwide. The updates come at a perfect time, shortly after the news that Twitter and LinkedIn will no longer be partnering to allow tweets to be posted to LinkedIn. We noticed it in the office yesterday when some of us were able to see the new design on their profiles and others not.

TechCrunch reports that the layout “will put a lot more emphasis on building out relationships, make better use of socially curated news content — and, if things go according to plan, should make the site a lot more sticky.”

The new menu is darker and contains the same navigation, but will remain at the top of the page as you scroll. Also, LinkedIn Today features bigger images in the feed. Another addition is that the “people who have viewed your profile” feature will have more functionality with “message/connect” buttons right next to the person’s profile. The new gray/black layout plus other visual changes and button integration are meant to encourage sharing and engagement among users.

New Layout

Old Layout

The TechCrunch article notes that the redesign exhibits an overall move towards simplification for LinkedIn, which has also been asserted by the company CEO Jeff Weiner. As with most website design updates, the site’s algorithms will probably be revamped as well, leading to more accurate “people you may know” suggestions, targeted LinkedIn Today stories and ease of sharing and creating content. Have you noticed the changes on your LinkedIn profile yet?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gina Rubel quoted in SmartCEO magazine's Women in Business issue


Gina Rubel, President/CEO of Furia Rubel Communications was quoted in a recent SmartCEO magazine column, “Ladies Room, ” about women in business. The author, Mark Carrow, managing partner of Citrin Cooperman's tax accounting, business consulting, and valuation services office in Philadelphia, quoted Rubel as saying:

“It is important for women to have confidence and capitalize on their natural abilities to develop and nurture relationships. “Being successful in business means building and maintaining great relationships. That includes your colleagues, referral sources, competitors, customers and even the media.” She said, “It also means not to be afraid to speak up, having integrity, never stepping on toes, and always knowing who else is in the ladies’ room.”


Other notable women quoted in the article include Stradley, Ronon, Stevens & Young law partner Linda A. Galante, Esq., president of FranWise, Mary O'Connell, forensic accountant Colleen Vallen, and former PA Supreme Court Justice, The Honorable Sandra Schultz Newman.

Rubel adds, “What does it take to update your LinkedIn profile, share your good news on Facebook, write an article for a trade publication, or update your online corporate bio? Not much effort with a great deal of return.”

Monday, July 02, 2012

Five Key Benefits of a Microsite for Business

Posted by Laura Powers

A microsite is a website concentrating on a very specific topic, product or service that can range in size from a single landing page to several linked pages. Microsites are typically used to support a larger website and share specialized editorial or commercial content. They serve as an easy-to-scan resource of focused information and content for audiences.

When a company provides niche services or products pertaining to a very specific market, microsites help support integrated marketing efforts. As part of creating a space in the marketplace, a company must be able to highlight a specialized offering and target a specific demographic. Examples of this may include: a law firm’s focus on a specific practice area; a company initiative to develop thought leadership in a particular industry; or the promotion of a special event.

Microsites benefit a company and enhance a brand in many ways. Below are five key benefits that companies should keep in mind when considering an investment in a microsite.

Builds Trust by Detailing a Clear Path to Information

As an online tool for leading audiences to a call-to-action, a microsite supports your relationship and deepens your connection to a targeted audience by providing them with a resource and thereby building trust with that audience. Microsites offer the freedom to expand on a topic in more detail, providing information such as specifications, background, history, etc. The site might explain industry trends in detail or include specific and relevant information to educate audiences.

Enhances the Brand

Overall brand support is a primary objective of a microsite, yet designs should be completely customized to appeal directly to target audiences with strong images and design elements. With the audience in mind, unique and targeted design can be employed which should echo the company brand, but be influenced by the site’s content. Well-designed sites will naturally demonstrate the flexible, diverse and innovative nature of the company. The connection between a main company site and a microsite should be obvious. A microsite, as a devoted resource to a subject, service or product, should also support the primary brand’s communication goals.

Focuses Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Efforts

Microsites support SEO by the nature of their content and even microsite domain names can be specific to each microsite’s topic, service or product. A unique microsite domain name should be secured to not only support SEO in this manner, but also to make the search engine result that a user sees that much more relevant to their search inquiry. A more relevant search result for users means a better chance that they will click through to a site. A site with a strategic domain name, relevant keyword phrases and well-written, search engine-optimized content will perform well in search engines. This, in turn, will strategically support the company's overall SEO efforts.

Supports Targeted Lead Generation

By reaching the right people at the right time by utilizing targeted content and SEO strategies through a microsite, the site is bound to attract interested visitors. These types of relevant visitors are likely to be strong leads for the company. By providing highly-targeted, clean SEO along with relevant content, your audience is likely to find your site and be genuinely interested in what it has to offer. Include strong calls-to-action and your lead generation strategy for the microsite will become a powerful engine for new business development.

Demonstrates Commitment

Another way to approach a microsite initiative is to consider the influence on the public perception a microsite may have. As a devoted slice of Internet real estate, a microsite demonstrates a commitment to a particular aspect of a business. The investment of resources in the site itself is an effective foundational piece of the company’s demonstrated commitment. By providing this level of dedication, not only do you inherently influence perceptions about the company’s market share of that service or product, but you are also building an audience's confidence in the company’s ability to provide it.

If your company is looking to niche in a particular subject matter or highlight a specific call-to-action, a microsite may be a digital marketing solution to consider as part of your integrated marketing efforts.

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