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How to choose your hosting company

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If you are about to start your business or professional blog, the first thing you have to consider is your online presence. There are so many hosting services online that it is really difficult to choose the right one, but doing your homework always pays off in the long term. The hosting market keeps expending, various new services are being introduced every day. So how to choose what you need?

First of all you have to consider the hosting package. 1and1.co.uk is one of the largest web site hosting companies in the world, the size doesn’t always mean that it will have the best packages, but in this case it does. One of the great features they offer is build your own website service which really comes handy for start-ups or professional bloggers.

Secondly, you have to consider the ease of use of the hosting company. If you haven’t got any previous experience with the hosting company, it is important to make sure that your new service provider offers user-friendly interfaces that will allow quicker website management.

Finally, it is very important to consider the tech support. If you are a new user and you want to build your own website at least at the beginning you will have loads of questions so clear FAQ and live chat is a necessity considering you hosting company.

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How Effective is Social Media as a Fundraising Tool?

As more and more businesses are jumping on the social media bandwagon, it’s only natural that many non-profit organisations regard it as an essential tool in their fundraising arsenal. However, while social media on the whole does confer myriad advantages on charities, what non-profits should understand and be aware of from the outset is that its use does not directly translate into increased funds and donations; rather social media is far more effective in raising awareness of causes on a much larger scale, and establishing relationships with donors (existing and potential) which can later be leveraged to solicit funds, implying more of an indirect link to fundraising efficacy.

For one, most of the success stories we hear about non-profits using social media to raise funds tend to revolve around large, highly-recognizable entities which most often have their brand equity to thank rather than the ingenuity of their social media campaigns. As well, where smaller organisations are concerned, they tend to raise significant amounts of funds usually during major one-time events, such as the recent disasters in Japan and Haiti, as opposed to on a continuous basis.

To complicate things further, in order for any social media initiative or campaign to be successful, significant investments in time and staff are necessary. While this might not prove difficult for larger organisations, many smaller ones, especially non-profits with tight marketing budgets simply do not have the means of making such investments. Without devoting the necessary time, money, and staff into devising and executing an actionable social media strategy, any efforts on the part of organisations are destined for failure.

In addition, it has been well-recorded that many of the most popular social networking sites such as Facebook, and the platforms they have engineered to facilitate online donations (e.g. Facebook’s Causes) have, generally speaking, not produced significant financial results to date. As well, the overall lack of performance indicators on these sites makes it increasingly difficult for non-profits to measure the success (if any) of their fundraising initiatives, leaving many charities ‘lost in the dark’ as to what to do with respect to their social media strategies.

These points aside, on a recent trip to Toronto I visited the founders of many small charities, and not only did I witness an overwhelming rate of failure where social media fundraising was concerned, but also the unanimous belief in the ineffectiveness of social media as a fundraising tool. Almost all the charities I visited believed that social media was more effective in raising awareness of their causes and connecting with potential donors than in directly raising money online, and that traditional, offline channels would continue to generate the bulk of their revenues.

Thus, it may be wise for non-profits to reconsider exactly why they want to use social media and develop a clear strategy for doing so rather than blindly assuming it to be essential. If fast and hard cash is what your non-profit is after, stick with the tried and trusted methods and channels that charities have been using successfully for years. However, if you’re looking to significantly raise the awareness of your charity and cause on a scale otherwise unattainable (given the same set of constraints) and wish to create and maintain meaningful relationships with donors, both existing and potential, it may be time to hang on to your hats and jump on the bandwagon after all.

Joobin Bekhrad

Read the full story

Posted in News, StrategiesComments (1)

Facebook strengthens its location based service offering with “Recommend this place”

Good news for local businesses – there is a new cool feature on Facebook called “Recommend this place”. It a really simple but clever update by Facebook to drive recommendations and grow its dominance among location based  service companies. You can read more about this new update at Insidefacebook.com .

Posted in Location Based Marketing, StrategiesComments (0)

The Future of Social Networks

Recently, I’ve watched this short interview with Brian Solis about the future of social networks. The interesting point has been made about privacy – Brian argues that due to the different social graphs and increasing social importance of the updates (status) social networks of the future will have to tailor the content to context – the right content to the right audiences at the right time – it’s kind of the new J-I-T communication system concept and tools will have to be developed. While I agree with these suggestions I also see some different trends which may reduce the need for such tools.

Everyone who likes you will listen

Social media has started from the idea of opines and transparency.  The first bloggers wanted to share their personal experience with the whole world on their web dairies or journals. The innovators were driven by the idea that the world can be the audience not only of the big media companies but of common personalities. At those days bloggers ceternaly didn’t hide much and privacy concern was the last thing to worry about. So what have changed now? Social media has become a norm and instead of planed few international friends the certain messages of bloggers and other social media citizens has reached millions, including their friends, families, employees. Why it’s a bad thing? I think it’s not and that’s my main point – it’s not bad to reach the mass audiences with a single update / everyone who are willing to listen will listen , who are not will not. The problem is that we are afraid of ourselves to transmit the same messages to everyone and can’t figure it out how to make people listen to what we have to say. Simply put I think it is not a senders worry what messages the receiver gets (as he will setup filters in order to get the right messages anyway), but how to make him want to listen to your messages at all. Read the full story

Posted in Strategies, TrendsComments (0)

Seth Godin, Tribes and Brand Communities

Was watching this new inspiring TED talk by Seth Godin and remembered my earlier research about tribes and brand communities which are so important  in analysing the post-modern consumer behaviour . Here are some of the main concepts of tribes and brand communities reviewed in the research:

“In the post-modernity period which encourages a move away from individualism towards a search for more social bonds, these communities tend to reorganize themselves into neo-tribes, networks of people gathering homogeneously together for social interaction, often around consumption and brands (Simmons, 2008). From the marketers perspective it is very important to consider tribal relationships as it may be a powerful tool in building loyalty and trust among the consumers. Even though neo-tribes and brand communities are two different concepts they share very similar features and often are very related to each other. According to Cova and Cova (2002) the main differences are that the brand communities are explicitly commercial whereas tribes are not, furthermore, brand communities are concerned about relationship between brand and consumer, whereas tribes – relationship between consumers. Muniz and O’Guinn (2001) (citied in Ouwersloot and Odekerken-Schroeder, 2008) describes a brand community as a specialized, non-geographically bound community that is based on a structured set of social relations among admirers of a brand. Mairinger (2008) suggests that:

  • The brand community is not just formed around a brand; it creates the brand.
  • The brand community is not just formed around a product; it is part of the product.

Therefore, the creation and development of brand communities is one of the most important tasks of the marketer as it can guarantee the company success in the long term. According to Mairinger (2008) brand communities can add real experiences and emotion to the brand, reach the long tail, address both individualism and collectivity needs and replace the celebrity endorsers with community brand advocates. Considering that 49 % of people made a purchase based on friends recommendations on social media property (Razorfish, 2008), social media can be viewed as an important channel and tool to interact, manage and enable these brand communities.”

Posted in Community Management, TrendsComments (2)

Brand influence vs Consumer influence – Who will win the fight?

Brands network

The power of the consumers in social media can be deceiving. According to Taylor Ellwood’s recent post, only consumers with the large lists of followers can be actually influential. It is realy straight forward and natural assumption, but it presents quite and interesting opportunity for the brands working in social media. Why? Brands and people related to big brands (Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Seth Godin) usually attract the biggest crowds of followers on social media properties. These social accounts has indisputably greater social influence than normal personal accounts. As a result they can be used as and opposition to consumer power (sometimes anarchy) on the social networks or other social media properties. .

Social Brands Network

Is it possible that brands will connect to networks in order to help each other to face growing consumers power on social networks? Yes, it is. I love the idea of the consumer empowerment by social media, actually this blog is all about that, but I think there has to be a balance in communication power between brand and consumer. The unintentional silly mistakes by brands (i.e Vodafone) can not be exaggerated by consumers to that level it sometimes is and should have an opportunity to be managed better. The appearance of strategic partnerships between brands could be one of the ways to solve this problem. Let me first define what I call the Social Brands Network: Read the full story

Posted in Consumer Behavior, Personal Branding, TrendsComments (0)

Jim Sterne on social media metrics: reach, influence, sentiment & business outcomes

Jim Sterne is finishing a new book on social media measurement.This week, I had the opportunity to interview Jim Sterne who is finishing a new book, on measuring the business value of social media marketing.

I asked Jim what metrics and KPIs marketers should take into account regarding social media marketing. But I also wanted to know what he thought about all these new metrics and KPIs “social media mavens” are introducing all the time. What can be measured and what can’t?

This is what Jim answered: “Social media KPIs are all dependent on the individual organization and its goals. But generally, we are looking at ‘impressions’ or reach. How many people had the opportunity to see the message? Next, we want to track influence to see whom we should be catering to and making sure we treat them well. Then, there’s the question of sentiment – something we may never be able to monitor technically – to help us get a handle on and track brand attitude. Finally, we need to measure business outcomes. Is our activity on social media driving visits, downloads, registrations and sales?” Read the full story

Posted in Interviews, ROI and Monitoring, Strategies, Top InterviewsComments (0)

What James Bond and Social Media Expert have in common?

So what James Bond and social media expert have in common? Well, apparently quite a lot. I’ve noticed this ad by MI6 (UK equivalent of CIA) on the train which said:

"Knowing what intelligence to gather and who to target is at the heart of everything we do at MI6."

I think this phrase should be written in capital letters on every social media practitioner’s notebook as it seems too often people in social media forget why they are doing what they are doing. A good research (or as we call it "listening" process) and knowing how to apply that research is at the heart of social media and marketing in general. Furthermore, identifying your stakeholders and knowing for what kind of people/companies you are looking for while doing the social research is vital for a successful social media campaign too. If you just simply start following/friending everyone you just waste your time and opportunity to talk with your target market. 

If you haven’t got time  to figure it out and you are implementing either Facebook or Twitter campaign I suggest you at least doing the research for these 3 main audiences relevant to your services:

  • What are your competitors  doing on social networks – in order to find out how to differentiate yourself.
  • What are your possible partners (from related services) doing on social networks  – in order to get referrals.
  • What are your consumers doing on social networks – in order to find out their wants and needs.

It is all quite obvious, but still a lot of of people don’t get it. So keep in mind these three simple steps and become a social media Bond, James Bond :)

Posted in Community ManagementComments (0)

Do you check weekly reports from your Facebook Fan Page?

Note: Social Media Citizens collaborate with different blogs in Europe. The bloggers we collaborate with are also the co-founders and admins behind the Social Marketing Forum. This post is written by Jonas Klit Nielsen from the Mindjumpers blog.

During last night (European time) a bunch of emails started ticking in from Facebook. The headline reads: “Your weekly Facebook Page update”.

It’s no secret that Facebook is trying to build up the page to become more and more valuable for business, and in this respect, statistics are the way to go.

The page insights have been available for a while and they give you something to navigate with, but when we deliver weekly reports to our clients, we still have to manually figure out how many new fans have joined since last week and so on. And only if you have more than 10.000 fans on a page you will be able to see the page impressions.

The new report from Facebook is simple – but very valuable. It gives you the following numbers: Read the full story

Posted in How To, StrategiesComments (0)

How to serve the sale through social media (Part 1)

 

serving the sale

Sales, sales, sales – there is only one final and ultimate goal for any business. Don’t get me wrong,  I understand that companies have to build relationships, develop brands and cherish their communities, but all that love for the consumer come with the price of the sale. Even though, these two words often don’t go together in social media professionals vocabulary, social media is a great communication tool/channel, so why not too sell as at the end of the day selling is just another form of communication. I believe that selling through social media is ok, as long as you know how to serve the sale.

“Personal selling is oral communication with potential buyers of a product with the intention of making a sale. The personal selling may focus initially on developing a relationship with the potential buyer, but will always ultimately end with an attempt to "close the sale"  (Kotler,1994) 

Personal selling – is one of the oldest forms of communication and often is overlooked by social media practitioners, mainly, because of the natural fear of the word “selling”. Even though that’s what social media is about –  creating personal relationships with the consumers and in order to attract them to buy product or services.

I can understand if someone feels that it’s not right, but you just have to be honest with yourself , what the point of having thousands of fans on Facebook, or followers on twitter, if sooner or later you can’t monetize them ?! To spread the message or provide information about your products or services, which will result in a sale – that’s the only reason. You can do it in the most creative ways by building communities, providing good content for your readers, freebees and etc – but the main reason for doing that is still the same.  

The times have changed and I don’t think the old tactics and definitions work, but there are definitely some valuable things to remember of this forgotten art. That’s what I will try to analyze in my future posts about “How to serve the sale through social media”.

Posted in How ToComments (0)

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