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Thursday, July 19, 2012

World SPAM levels cut in Half by Calculated Cybersecurity Attack

If you notice a huge drop in the amount of pharmaceutical spam you're receiving, you're not imagining things. Security researchers say they were able to take down "Grum", the spam server behind about 18 percent of global spam.
The process began when researchers blocked the botnet's command servers in the Netherlands and Panama on Tuesday. Grum's administrators acted quickly to restore the server, and shortly thereafter had set up new command servers in Russia and Ukraine. Researchers were still hot on their trail, and Militpas, Calif.-based security firm FireEye along with UK-based anti-spam group SpamHaus worked with Russian security experts to take down Grum again on Wednesday morning.
Researchers worked with ISPs hosting these servers to cut their Internet access off, effectively killing them and orphaning the zombie computers that they control.
Grum's reach is immense: some 120,000 IP addresses were known to be sending spam before the researcher's action. That had been reduced to some 21,505 known spamming IPs after the takedown. It is thought the rest of these IPs will stop sending spam as they no longer have any active control.
This week's actions are important overall in the fight against spam because it shows that countries that normally have been viewed as "safe havens" for spammers are now taking a role in the fight against the problem.
"There are no longer any safe havens", FireEye researcher Alif Mushtaq says. "Most of the spam botnets that used to keep their CnCs in the USA and Europe have moved to countries like Panama, Russia, and Ukraine thinking that no one can touch them in these comfort zones. We have proven them wrong this time".
While there still remain several active botnets out there sending quite a bit of pharmaceutical spam, and Grum itself is not dead yet, this week's effort sends a message to spammers worldwide. You can run, but you can't hide -- and now the places where you thought you were safe are not so safe anymore.
"Keep on dreaming of a junk-free inbox", Mushtaq muses.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

New Media Marketing Mix Essentials

Written and Prepared by  Heidi Cohen for
Summer signals the beginning of budget season. Before making marketing investment decisions, analyze this year’s three marketing must-haves: social media, content marketing and mobile. While aspects of these marketing formats may not have direct costs, they all require budget and resources.

1. Social Media

Social media provides platforms, enabling marketers to interact with their target audience. Social media involves more than a Facebook page or Twitter account. It requires an integrated social media strategy including a social media persona to ensure it’s an integral part of your marketing.
  1. Assess current social media presence. Is your brand present on appropriate social media networks? Are you actively managing your presence? Are there emerging social media platforms relevant to your firm, focus, or target market where you must establish your presence?
  2. Evaluate your brand’s portrayal across social media platforms. Is your brand consistently presented? Do your branding guidelines need to be enhanced?
  3. Determine the engagement level you need on social media platforms. Remember, you can’t rely on three tweets a day written by your agency. You need a human face behind your social media presence. Ensure you’ve got appropriate in-house resources to respond to social media requests.
  4. Create relevant content to feed social media needs. Assess requirements across content formats and social media platforms. Include formal content marketing as well as social media interactions like Facebook comments and Twitter responses.
  5. Support your social media presence with targeted advertising. Do you need to enhance your social media presence with related paid advertising? Consider the use of social media ads.

2. Content Marketing

Content marketing is promotion-free information that fuels social media and overcomes purchase decision hurdles. (Here’s an outline of content marketing’s basic steps.)
  1. Analyze content marketing needs. Assess the existing content within your organization. Then determine where you have content marketing needs and where you have holes in your existing offering. Specifically examine the entire purchase process and social media interactions.
  2. Integrate content marketing into an editorial calendar. Determine where content is needed, the format and topic required, and the timing of its creation based on your assessment. Incorporate this information into a plan across platforms to ensure it’s synched with your promotional calendar. Plan for content reuse to extend the life of each element.
  3. Acquire appropriate resources for your content creation team. At a minimum, you need an editor and a copy editor. While you can encourage employees and customers to contribute content, determine where you need additional support. Don’t underestimate the need for designers, photographers, writers and technology support. These resources can be internal, freelance or agency-based.
  4. Expand content marketing reach. Make it easy for readers to share your information with social sharing buttons. Where appropriate, use advertising to promote your content and build an audience.
  5. Ensure content marketing closes sales. Content marketing by itself can’t drive sales. It needs calls-to-action and related dedicated promotional codes. Further, create tailored landing pages and streamline the sales process to efficiently convert prospects to sales.

3. Mobile

Mobile is a must-have for every business with a retail presence or that competes with a business that has a retail presence since mobiles and tablets go shopping.
  1. Be present on mobile search. Mobile search is separate from web search. Local businesses that people seek on-the-go must be findable on mobile search.
  2. Build a mobile website. Don’t just assume people can read your web-optimized site on a mobile device. Create a streamlined mobile website focused on the information customers want on-the-go.
  3. Build a mobile phone number house file. If you don’t have a mobile phone list, start building one now.
  4. Optimize your emailings for mobile devices. Email is the primary content consumed on mobile devices. Ensure readers can easily read and take action on your emailings via a connected device.
  5. Assess need for a mobile app. In the past year, mobile app usage has surged ahead of mobile web, according to Flurry. Depending on your business, this shift may require investment in a mobile app.
According to IBM’s State of Marketing 2012, marketers face an array of challenges. Top on their lists are channel and device choice expansion and customer collaboration and influence. This is no surprise given social media’s exponential growth, increased smartphone usage, and the quick adoption of tablets. These elements require new ways of engaging and selling prospects and customers through content marketing and social media delivered via various mobile devices.
At a time when marketers need additional funds to test these emerging channels and platforms, more than a quarter of those surveyed believe their biggest challenge is financial constraints and ROI accountability. This is to be expected in light of weak economic growth. Many businesses using social media, content marketing and/or mobile are still testing these strategies and haven’t developed effective tracking yet.
Image courtesy of iStockphoto, logorilla

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Americans Are Phoning the Web

E-commerce businesses, take notice: Increasing numbers of people are accessing the Web primarily through their cellphones. "Businesses who realize that the efforts put into an excellent mobile Web experience are as important as the main website -- more important, actually ... -- will be most ready for whatever the future holds for mobile," said mobile consultant Jonathan Thaler.

See the groundbreaking results of a Forrester Consulting report of over 400 business and technology leaders and find out how they are making customer focus a strategic imperative. In this video broadcast experts discuss changing customer dynamics. Learn more.

Cellphones have become a primary way for people in the U.S. to access the Web, according to a recent survey released by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project.

Seventeen percent of of cellphone owners surveyed said they surfed the Web primarily with their phones rather than computers. Using their phones was a matter of convenience for many, but others said that they were the only means they had to access the Web.

Pew based its findings on a national telephone survey of 2,254 adults aged 18 and over conducted March 15 through April 3, 2012.

Eighty-eight percent of adults in the U.S. owned a cellphone as of April 2012, and 55 percent of those cellphone users accessed the Internet with their phones, the survey found. That represents an increase from the 31 percent of cellphone users who reported accessing the Internet with their phones in an April 2009 Pew survey.

"Phones are convenient," said Pew Research Center Senior Research Specialist Aaron Smith, who wrote the survey report.

"They're always there, and they fit with peoples' lifestyles," he told the E-Commerce Times.

Moving Trend

Whether the trend toward phone access of the Internet will continue is an unknown, but Pew's surveys do indicate a steady increase in all kinds of mobility.

"We stay out of the trend prediction business," said Smith, "but the broader trend toward increased mobility is something that has been consistent and is something we continue to see in all of the work that we do."

One of the driving factors behind this trend, according to Smith, is convenience.

"There's something qualitatively different about cellphones in terms of convenience," he said.
What It Means for E-Commerce

The upshot of this survey for e-commerce businesses and anyone who reaches the public via the Web is that they must have mobile-friendly sites.

"There's a large number of potential customers who are not going to be accessing your services or site in a traditional big screen with a full keyboard and mouse," said Smith. "They're going to be accessing it when they're on-the-go, distracted, with a smaller screen and no keyboard -- or a virtual keyboard. That's a very different consumption experience. People are in a very different mindset when they're running around with their phone than they are when they're sitting at a computer."

Consumers want to be able to access information wherever they are and whenever they want, and often that means they're going to reach for their phones.

"People want easy access to information where they are -- they are not sitting at a laptop or a computer when they are out and about, which is most of the time," Jonathan Thaler, founder of When I'm Mobile, told the E-Commerce Times. "We have virtually unlimited Internet browsing as part of our data plans, and the browsers on our devices are very capable."

Many businesses, however, are not prepared for these mobile users. Their sites are still designed and directed toward computer screens and capabilities.

"At present, I'm afraid the typical Web experience on a mobile browser has a negative effect on e-commerce," said Thaler. "Nobody wants to have to enter 10 to 15 form boxes into a non-mobile Web page they can't even see properly. We are on the go, have little time and choppy bandwidth, and need to get in, get what we need and get out. Entering credit card information to a phone website is a juggling act at best. I do think business is being lost when the website is too difficult to use on a mobile device, which is still the case the vast majority of the time."

Becoming more mobile-friendly, in other words, is central to doing business in the 21st century.
Mobile CRM

"Understanding the importance of initiating the customer relationship with the mobile device, to continue and expand on that relationship when the customer is not at the computer, will position businesses at the forefront of mobile commerce," said Thaler. "Reliable and easy-to-use mobile payment systems, integrated seamlessly into the mobile browsing experience, are also necessary for m-commerce to proliferate."

In fact, the mobile version of a site might be even more important than the desktop one.

"Businesses who realize that the efforts put into an excellent mobile Web experience are as important as the main website -- more important, actually, since people have their phones with them far more of the time than they have computer access -- will be most ready for whatever the future holds for mobile," said Thaler.

"I don't think phone browsing will completely replace computer browsing," he said, "but an integrated Web strategy which enables website owners to be ready for the visits to their site regardless of how they get there, will provide both the audience and the business with the best opportunities to engage and transact."

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Three C's of Facebook

Article By The Connection and PRWeb.

No online marketing strategy is complete without Facebook. The world's largest social network can give your campaigns enormous reach, especially when you integrate it with your other marketing tools. According to the latest stats, 96 percent of small businesses now have a company Facebook page. If you're in that 96%, fantastic – but are you getting the most out of it?
Effective Facebook marketing comes down to three key points: Customer Service, Content and Connections.


1 Customer Service
Having a Facebook page where customers can post reviews, comments and even complaints is essential to building a rapport. Over time, that rapport will turn into brand loyalty. It also inspires word of mouth, as customers/fans encourage their friends to "like" your page, and try your product/service. Try to monitor your company page for a few minutes a day and respond to customer comments within 24 hours or less. You can also sign up to receive an email alert whenever someone posts to your page.
2 Content
Your Facebook page is a face for your business. Keep it fresh. Share news, offer promotions, link to outside content and thank customers for their feedback. They're all great ways to keep customers engaged. Think for a second about how you use Facebook to check out your friends' news and click through their photo galleries. Customers want to check out your business the same way. Facebook is an ideal platform to share product photos and for customers to post their own photos of your products in action.
It's not just about engagement. There are several apps available that let you add "buy now" buttons to photos, taking customers straight to your website. Other apps let you create customized coupons for your fans, and host customer sweepstakes on your Facebook page. Whether you use apps or not, aim for one update, post or promotion per day.
3 Connections
Social media is a vital publicity tool, which makes it an integral part of effective marketing. Getting "likes" and fans is how companies build connections on Facebook. Got a special event happening? Send a message to your fans. Need feedback on a new product? Create a quick survey using a Facebook survey app. The more you connect with your current fans, the more likely their friends are to see your page and become fans (and customers) themselves.

Monday, June 18, 2012

How to harness the incredible potential of blogs

These days, it is common knowledge that branding is an essential tool for building a successful, sustainable enterprise -- but what does that mean if your business is you? To answer this question, I scoured the land of independent-publishers-turned-savvy-branders to ask the best of the business to share their insights on what it takes to create and sustain their successful brands.
As many of you know, well-executed branding can ensure a consumer chooses your product over all others, though the others may be incredibly similar. The classic example of this is the powerful brand of Coke. People around the world choose Coke over other types of cola, which taste virtually the same due to one single differentiator: branding. Coke has perfected its brand over a century by ensuring its products stand for consistency and enjoyment while visually being equated to these feelings. The results of its successful branding can be seen today, where Coke is reportedly recognized by 94 percent of the world's population.

Stay informed. Want to harness the power of social TV -- and use it to your advantage? Attend the iMedia Entertainment Summit, June 26. Request your invitation today.
In the past few years we've seen the explosion of personal blogs. In fact, WordPress keeps a handy counter on its website that shares the number of WordPress sites in the world -- its count is up to 73 million. And that is just one -- albeit the largest -- platform. Many of these voices are clambering for the same audience and must look to branding as a key differentiator that will help them stand out in a crowd.
The challenge for most publishers is that the process of branding can feel uncomfortable because you're spending lot of time thinking about yourself rather than your audience. Most publishers I know would much rather think about their audiences' interests, their next blog posts, or how to improve their photography -- not what their personal brands mean. But most are motivated to overcome these fears of self-promotion once they understand the tremendous benefits of branding. Effective branding means readers will choose to follow a specific blog over all others and, to that blogger, this can mean lasting success.
But what does effective branding entail? I had in-depth conversations with some of the savviest publishers on the web, and here are some of the common themes I heard from them.

Read entire article at iMedia Connection

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Social Media Landscape: Reviewed

Maybe this is the reason General Motors went "mental" and pulled its Facebook ad budget.
Digital marketing is confusing—really confusing—as this insane graphic shows (below).
Trying to navigate through the various new social media categories, blogs, sharing sites, and social media firms is an absolute mess.
This depiction of the digital marketing landscape was shown at a Buddy Media event marking the launch of the social marketing software agency's new suite of measurement tools.
You can click to enlarge it, but that won't make it look any simpler.
buddy media social marketing

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/social-media-marketing-landscape-complicated-2012-5#ixzz1v9pP6kHe

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Google give their Search a "Human" touch

CNN) -- So, let's say you're doing a Google search for "Kings." Did you mean the L.A. hockey team or the Sacramento basketball team? Maybe the TV show? Or maybe you actually wanted to know something about monarchs.
Google on Wednesday announced Knowledge Graph, a significant change to how search results are delivered that the company believes will make their search engine think more like a human.
"The web pages we [currently] return for the search 'kings,' they're all good," Jack Menzel, director of product management at Google, told CNN in an interview. "You, as a human, associate those words with their real-world meaning but, for a computer, they're just a random string of characters."
With Knowledge Graph, which will begin rolling out to some users immediately, results will be arranged according to categories with which the search term has been associated. So, in the above example, boxes will appear with separate results for the hockey team, basketball team and TV show.
The user can then click on one of those boxes to only get results for the specific topic they were searching.
"It hones your search results right in on the task that you're after," Menzel said.
More specific searches, say for the name of a celebrity, will render boxes with basic information, as well as links to what Google believes are possibly related searches.
Menzel says the initial version of Knowledge Graph has information on 500 million people, places and things and uses 3.5 billion defining attributes and connections to create categories for them.
The feature will begin rolling out as early as Wednesday afternoon for some users in the United States and eventually be available on desktop, mobile and tablet searches. It will first become available in English, then in other languages, Menzel said.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Why Google Analytics May Not Be the Best Solution for the Travel Industry

Over my 20-year career in the travel and Internet industry, I have come across hundreds of cases where a travel client has used Google Analytics (GA) to track their clicks from their online advertising and seen major discrepancies on the clicks and conversions. We should all agree as an industry to put this behind us and not use GA to track clicks and bookings.

Don't get me wrong as I love Google as much as the next guy. GA is a great tool for analytics, market research and web trends but just not for tracking every single click you receive from many different websites. I have done a variety of tests over the years including me personally physically clicking on a link that was not public 10 times. I then saw 10 clicks correctly in my 3rd party professional tracking system but GA only showed four or six clicks. I did the same type of test with the engineers at TripAdvisor and the results were confirmed. I have tested with DART, Adtech, Zedo, Mediaplex, Atlas and other paid click tracking software tools and they are all infinitely more reliable than GA. I have used other free solutions like clixtrac.com which are just as free as Google but are much more accurate.

So how can this be that mighty Google has a product that so many people use for free with so many issues. What most people do not realize is that Google simply bought a company called Urchin which became GA. This free version of Urchin was not designed to track tons of links and bookings from other websites. It was a solution that was good at tracking your general website stats and visitors in aggregate. Not a tool that specialized in finding 1,000 needles in 111 different haystacks. Urchin does seem to have much more reliable solutions available for a fee.

According to Google, its GA methodology only counts certain types of clicks. If a user has not enabled cookies, flash, images or JavaScript in their browser, it is possible for their clicks to simply be tossed out. If a traveler happened to click your link two times within 30 minutes, it is possible that GA would only show one click instead of two. Since Google is a search engine company first, it also factors out a lot of clicks that it might perceive as coming from robots when, in reality, it is more likely that a human was behind most of those clicks.

Instead of algorithms and filter-based calculations, most other paid click-tracking tools we mentioned above simply tally up the actual number of clicks recorded, which is much more accurate. So, since GA cannot properly record all the clicks to your site, you end up missing a lot of bookings in your GA reports.

And speaking of bookings, it is of course much harder to track a booking than a click. Most paid tracking tools monitor the travelers that click your banner ad, text link or email but then do not book right away. Those travelers might check with their significant other before booking and then bypass your tracking link and book directly on your website days later. But with advanced tracking and reporting you would still be able to properly record all of those bookings and give credit to the websites that referred those folks that booked even 15 days after they clicked your link.

GA is missing some of those clicks and, of course, some of those bookings, which makes it even less likely to depict reality. So, before you assume that your online advertising is not working, make sure to use the right tracking software to see the full picture. You would never use the sun or the North Star to track the speed of 10 runners in a race. So, why would you use Google Analytics to track your clicks and bookings just because it was free?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

SEO Tips you need to start using right now

Google’s searchbots have long relied on humans to endorse relevant and useful links. Recently, however, Google upped the human ante by introducing Google Social Search.

Google recognizes that one personal endorsement from someone we know easily outranks endorsements from 10,000 strangers. The same applies for a trusted authority: a blogging link shared by Darren Rowse or Brian Clark carries more weight than something a casual user shares.

So as a result, we have Google Social Search: meaning a site can jump from #30 to #3 in the SERPs just because someone in your Google+ circles shared the link. Getting an RT from The Huffington Post can jump your blog post from #8 to #1. It’s a brave new world of social SEO – and it’s one that no SEO can afford to ignore.

Leveling The Playing Field

Under traditional SEO practices, a modern startup would have no chance at ranking for highly competitive keywords. The other sites have been down in the trenches too long; it’d be nearly impossible to knock them off their SERP pedestal without years of campaigning.

Social SEO makes it easier for smaller fish to compete with the big guys. A tweet that receives a viral-size number of retweets can mean as much as a link from a top-ranking site; a +1 from a friend can send your site to the top of the social SERPs for that friend’s entire network.

Social media should already be a part of your business strategy. Now it’s time to harness the power of those social media accounts for your SEO strategy – or risk falling behind while your competitors cash in on their social chips.

Social Strategies To Start Employing Today

1. Ramp Up Your Google+ Presence

It’s the most obvious one on the list, but it still needs to be said. Like it or not, Google has made it clear that G+ is here to stay – and it’s become too useful for an SEO not to take advantage it.

Though the network is still a lightweight compared to sites like Twitter and Facebook, Google+ is emerging as a champion heavyweight in search results.

As seen in the screenshot below, casual G+ posts are even showing up in search results:

Google+ results

Think Google+ search results are just limited to social search? Think again. Related Google+ users and pages show up in standard Web search, too:

Google+ non-social search results

From authorship to +1s to shares to circle numbers, Google is injecting social G+ results into nearly every Google Social search. Jumping to a first-page ranking solely because someone put you in a G+ circle? That’s a benefit no site can afford to ignore.

2. Put A New Emphasis On Building Relationships & Increasing Followers

Everything you write or share can pop up in your followers’ search results – even if they’re not a member of the social site you shared the link on. The relationships we forge online now have a huge impact on our search results.

Every new follower you get may see your brand’s site in his or her SERPs in the future, so it’s in your best interest to ramp up your follower count. Host a giveaway (entrants must follow you on G+, for example), increase your outreach efforts, or give away an eBook exclusively for your followers.

3. Start Posting Your Articles Immediately On Social Media

As Mitch Monsen of White Fire SEO pointed out, tweeting your content actually helps your content get indexed faster (especially vital if you’re posting time-sensitive material). Set your articles to automatically post on Google+, LinkedIn, etc. and you’ll get indexed even quicker.

4. Focus On Shareable Content

Social shares have always worked in a SEO’s favor by granting us endorsements similar to direct inbound links. Now, shares have another benefit: if someone (even someone that doesn’t follow you on any social media sites) shares your content, the sharer’s entire network may see the post by searching for relevant material in Google Social Search.

Getting someone like, say, Newsweek to share your material? In addition to getting a nice boost in your rankings, you’ll also have access to that power user’s network.

5. Add +1 Buttons To Anything & Everything

Have you noticed that Google’s even added +1 buttons to their ads? The +1 has turned into an Internet-wide Facebook like button.Don’t turn down the easy endorsement: slap the +1 button on your site wherever you can.

6. Use “Rel=author” & “Rel=me” Tags To Link Your Work To Your Name

Darren Rowse Authorship in Google+

Searchers can now see thumbnails of the person who authored the article they’re about to read. If they liked what they read, they can simply return to the SERP and click “More by ________” to see the author’s entire catalogued body of work.

To clue Google in that you’re the author, you’ll need to use “rel=author” tags in your posts. Not sure how? Joost de Valk’s already written a comprehensive guide on the subject – and so has Google.

7. Get On Pinterest

PinterestI know it’s rapidly becoming a cliché to write about Pinterest, but the newest social site on the block has well-earned its praise due to its sheer SEO power.

This simple graphic from The Wall Street Journal nabbed the website nearly 1500 shares on Pinterest (and countless more traffic):

You probably already know Pinterest sends nearly as much referral traffic as Twitter (and more than YouTube, G+, and LinkedIn combined), but did you know Google now crawls pins and boards?

Optimize your pins for relevant search keywords; further optimize for Pinterest searches by hashtagging relevant keywords on each pin.

8. Add A “Pin It” & A StumbleUpon Button To Your Site

Take the shares anywhere you can get them. The aforementioned Pinterest has killer link traction, while the social bookmarking powerhouse StumbleUpon is second only to Facebook in terms of referral traffic.

Slap both “Pin It” and StumbleUpon buttons on your content right next to the Facebook, Twitter, and +1 buttons.

A Brief Word To The SEO Traditionalists

Am I suggesting social SEO practices are rapidly replacing traditional SEO methods?

Absolutely not.

Am I suggesting social SEO is better than traditional SEO?

Absolutely not.

Traditional SEO isn’t going anywhere any time soon. However, as social becomes increasingly integrated with search, it’s time to add social media as a permanent tool in our SEO arsenal.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Online Video Marketing Survey and Video Email Trends Report

Web Video Marketing Council and Flimp Media Release Results of Q4-2011 Online Video Marketing Survey and Video Email Trends Report 81 Percent of Marketers Already Using Online Video; 52 Percent are Using with Email; 67 Percent Have Posted to Websites and 61 Percent Have Posted to Social Media Sites

Hopkinton, MA, March 19, 2012 --(PR.com)-- The Web Video Marketing Council and Flimp Media have just released the results of the Q4-2011 Video Marketing Survey of more than 270 interactive marketing professionals. The white paper report reveals that most marketers are already using video for online marketing and that 64 percent of marketers plan to increase their video marketing budget in 2012. According to the recent survey, online video use increased to 81 percent of marketers during 2011 and 52 percent of marketers said they were using video with email marketing programs in 2011.

In general, surveyed marketers were very optimistic about the performance of video with email, as 88 percent indicated that integrating video with email marketing has had a positive effect on their email marketing efforts. In addition, 72 percent believed that buyers were more likely to purchase or convert after viewing an email campaign that incorporated video. Only one percent of marketers surveyed indicated that video had a negative effect on their email marketing efforts. In light of these results it was surprising that 35 percent of marketers said their email service provider did not offer a video marketing solution and 44 percent did not know if their email provider offered a video marketing solution.

The survey was conducted by the Web Video Marketing Council in conjunction with Flimp Media in Q4 of 2011. The study queried more than 270 interactive marketing professionals who “have marketing oversight responsibilities in their role” in order to gain insights into current marketing practices and perceptions regarding video-based email marketing. The survey results and 2011 Video Email Marketing Trends Report are available for download here: http://www.webvideomarketing.org/pdf/Q4-2011 Online Video Marketing Survey.pdf

Speaking about the survey, Paul Ritter, Director of Strategic Programs for the Web Video Marketing Council commented: "We knew that there was strong interest among marketers in online video marketing, and specifically email marketing, but were surprised by the current adoption levels over 80 percent and the overwhelming sentiment that video email increases click thru rates and purchases. This is definitely a strong online marketing trend to watch.”

The survey also asked marketers what they think are the most effective ways to deploy video with email and what they believe are the primary barriers to using video with email marketing. “At the top of the list of barriers cited by marketers for using video in email marketing was not having readily available video assets to use in their campaigns,” reports Ritter. “We fully expect this number to drop over the course of the year with the increasing availability of high megapixel cameras that are becoming more available on devices such as iPads and Smartphones that can produce high quality video content. There will always be a need for high production value videos involving a camera crew and professional editors.”

Wayne Wall, CEO of Flimp Media, a co-producer of the survey said “There seems to be a consensus of belief among marketers that video produces higher email engagement and response rates. Since 2008 we have conducted well over a thousand video marketing campaigns for clients using trackable video email postcards for lead generation and communications. Our aggregate marketing data shows an average viewer engagement time of 1.3 minutes, response rates averaging 23 percent and email click thru rates well over 30 percent when deploying video with email marketing.”

Download the 2011 Video Email Marketing Survey Data and Industry Trends Report
Access the survey results and download the 2011 Video Email Trends Report from this link: http://www.webvideomarketing.org/pdf/Q4-2011 Online Video Marketing Survey.pdf

About the Web Video Marketing Council
The Web Video Marketing Council (WVMC) is a professional association established to provide timely, relevant information about online video marketing topics and technologies to professional marketers and communicators through its website, newsletter, reports and webinars. For more information please visit our website, www.webvideomarketing.org.

About Flimp Media
Flimp Media is a video lead generation and communications solutions provider located in Boston, MA. FLIMP® which stands for Flexible Interactive Marketing Platform is a SAAS solution used to create, distribute and track interactive video postcards for email lead generation and corporate video communications. Flimp Media also provides video production, Video SEO and creative services for a diverse and rapidly expanding collection of clients. For more information, please visit www.flimp.net and www.flimpagency.com.

Contact Information:
Web Video Marketing Council
Jennifer O'Meara
Contact via Email

Click here to read the full story: Online Video Marketing Survey and Video Email Trends Report

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What Does Apple's New iPad Mean for Marketing?

Apple's iPad has dazzled consumers. And the latest model, unveiled today, includes features that marketers will need to consider in the coming year.

In fact, Apple CEO Tim Rose said Apple sold 15.4 million iPads last quarter, which is more than the sales at any individual PC company during the same period, BusinessInsider reported.

Three marketers, in email interviews with ClickZ, shared how they anticipate the tablet will affect marketing in the coming year.

Better Display

"Certainly the retina display makes a big difference. At 264 pixels per inch, the new iPad has twice the resolution of iPad2 (in fact, it's got more memory and a better screen resolution than an Xbox 360 or PS3), and that translates into a bigger canvas on which to create more powerful digital experiences," said Andrew Solmssen, a managing director at Possible Worldwide.

Improved Camera for Video, Still Images

"Marketers should definitely be excited about the much improved video camera and camera, which will enable more sophisticated apps with functionality such as facial recognition," Solmssen said. "The boost in video camera performance will also improve consumers' ability to capture videos to contribute to campaigns."

Faster Download Speeds

"With 4G LTE, the new iPad is capable of download speeds up to 73 Mbps, and more bandwidth opens the door for more immersive, interactive marketing and ad work," Solmssen added.

Robert Weber, a founder of W3i, concurred. "The biggest impact for marketers will be LTE support. This will dramatically increase internet speeds and result in the ability to create much more engaging app experiences," he said.

High-Quality Device Deserves High-Quality Content

"The new iPad delivers more of everything to the consumer, and marketers need to do the same," said Melissa Krueger, senior marketing consultant, ExactTarget. The new iPad offers a higher resolution display than the iPad 2 and promises a faster processor.

She pointed out that primary uses of the device are "entertainment, exploration, and self-expression in a low effort, 'lean back' environment." And as a result, she said, marketers must consider how their offerings coincide with these uses and mindset. "It's really all about high quality content that is pleasurable to consume and easy to manipulate and share," she said.

And What's Missing…

"These new features also highlight what iPad is still missing - specifically, an exciting, standardized ad model. iAd has been anemic at best on iPad and is due for a serious refresh. Advertisers also need a library of actions that they can use to quickly and easily make creative that, as described above, takes advantage of the tablet for what it does best," Solmssen said.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Myrtle Beach Vote #6 Worlds Best Beach

Here's the list, which was generated by TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Awards 2012:

World’s Best Beaches

  1. Providenciales, Turks and Caicos
  2. Boracay, Philippines
  3. Palm/Eagle Beach, Aruba
  4. Negril, Jamaica
  5. Tulum, Mexico
  6. Myrtle Beach, United States
  7. Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
  8. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
  9. Cape May, United States
  10. Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
  11. Maldives
  12. Panama City Beach, United States
  13. Miami Beach, United States
  14. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
  15. Isla Mujeres, Mexico

REad the entire article HERE.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Facebook's IP and the Future of Online Marketing

It’s only the second day of February and we’re ready to get a running start on the month with tons of interactive marketing news. Yesterday, as Google + reportedly hit 100 million users, Facebook filed for its $5 billion IPO. $5 billion is less than originally predicted, but still manages to make Facebook’s filing – if Mark Zuckerberg and is team raises the money – one of the biggest tech IPOs ever.

Facebook and Google +… The Future of the Online World?

While many people – like users on our Facebook page – view this as the next web bubble, sure to pop soon (we all saw how LinkedIn did after filing – as in, not too well in the months following its IPO), others view this as the beginning of the trend toward social as the future of an open, collaborative and connected internet. And Google + obviously hopes to be a large part of this future as well, as, according to Paul Allen on Wednesday, Google +’s numbers are growing, and growing quickly: “Google+ membership has grown more than 10% since Jan. 19th when Larry Page announced 90 million users. I have them at 100.8 million users by the end of the day.” The same old question persists: is this reflective of how many people are using Google + actively? And a new question arises: is this simply because, as of recently, anyone who signs up for a Google service has to create a Google + profile? It’s hard to believe that’s not the case.
Zuckerberg’s Vision

Regardless, social is clearly a large part of all of our lives. Zuckerberg’s vision is one of continued innovation and openness, as he states in his open letter to possible shareholders upon filing. He writes:

“Today, our society has reached another tipping point. We live at a moment when the majority of people in the world have access to the internet or mobile phones — the raw tools necessary to start sharing what they’re thinking, feeling and doing with whomever they want. Facebook aspires to build the services that give people the power to share and help them once again transform many of our core institutions and industries. There is a huge need and a huge opportunity to get everyone in the world connected, to give everyone a voice and to help transform society for the future…. By helping people form these connections, we hope to rewire the way people spread and consume information. We think the world’s information infrastructure should resemble the social graph — a network built from the bottom up or peer-to-peer, rather than the monolithic, top-down structure that has existed to date. We also believe that giving people control over what they share is a fundamental principle of this rewiring.”

There’s already not much in the way of Facebook getting exactly what Zuckerberg wants, with a majority of people actively using the social platform to connect with others and build and maintain relationships. With a $5 billion IPO, there’s even less standing in the way of Facebook creating a very social future.
Speaking of Spending…

What does this mean for search marketing? Is social the only way of the future? No way. In fact, at the end of January, an eMarketer report revealed that projections have search ad spending trending upwards in the coming years. Specifically, the report says, “search spending will rise 27% to $19.51 billion. By 2016, search ad spending will approach $30 billion, following slower but consistent growth between now and then.”

This graph, courtesy of eMarketer, reflects a projected rise in search spending through 2016.

The report also predicts that Google will see the most revenue growth this year, but that Google’s growth rates will likely be surpassed by Microsoft in 2013 and 2014 (bold statement!). However, the report ads, “Still, by that point Google will have nearly 10 times Microsoft’s search ad revenue—$20.28 billion vs. just $2.21 billion” (and you thought Facebook’s $5 billion was a lot. Chump change!).

eMarketer adds that Google will not lose its first place position as the number one ad market dominator, as the search engine will see 77.9% of all US search ad revenues in 2012. eMarketer adds that, 2 years from now, that percentage will grow to nearly 80. The report also places Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL at the top of the search ad marketing pile, noting that, “By 2014, search revenues at Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and AOL will account for 92.1% of all US search ad revenues and 44.3% of all US online ad revenues, up from just under 90% of all search ad revenues and 43% of all US online ad revenues in 2011.”
Social AND Search (Especially Paid) Here To Stay

As you can tell, paid search isn’t going anywhere. People are investing in search marketing and will continue to do so because it’s a viable marketing area and, when they have patience and do it right, many businesses experience high ROI from their online efforts. Combine those efforts with an interactive social media presence, and you have a business that is successfully marketing for the future.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pages With Too Many Ads “Above The Fold” Now Penalized By Google’s “Page Layout” Algorithm

Do you shove lots of ads at the top of your web pages? Think again. Tired of doing a Google search and landing on these types of pages? Rejoice. Google has announced that it will penalize sites with pages that are top-heavy with ads.

Top Heavy With Ads? Look Out!

The change — called the “page layout algorithm” — takes direct aim at any site with pages where content is buried under tons of ads.

From Google’s post on its Inside Search blog today:

We’ve heard complaints from users that if they click on a result and it’s difficult to find the actual content, they aren’t happy with the experience. Rather than scrolling down the page past a slew of ads, users want to see content right away.

So sites that don’t have much content “above-the-fold” can be affected by this change. If you click on a website and the part of the website you see first either doesn’t have a lot of visible content above-the-fold or dedicates a large fraction of the site’s initial screen real estate to ads, that’s not a very good user experience.

Such sites may not rank as highly going forward.

Google also posted the same information to its Google Webmaster Central blog.

Sites using pop-ups, pop-unders or overlay ads are not impacted by this. It only applies to static ads in fixed positions on pages themselves, Google told me.

How Much Is Too Much?

How can you tell if you’ve got too many ads above-the-fold? When I talked with the head of Google’s web spam team, Matt Cutts, he said that Google wasn’t going to provide any type of official tools similar to how it provides tools to tell if your site is too slow (site speed is another ranking signal).

Instead, Cutts told me that Google is encouraging people to make use of its Google Browser Size tool or similar tools to understand how much of a page’s content (as opposed to ads) is visible at first glance to visitors under various screen resolutions.

But how far down the page is too far? That’s left to the publisher to decide for themselves. However, the blog post stresses the change should only hit pages with an abnormally large number of ads above-the-fold, compared to the web as a whole:

We understand that placing ads above-the-fold is quite common for many websites; these ads often perform well and help publishers monetize online content.

This algorithmic change does not affect sites who place ads above-the-fold to a normal degree, but affects sites that go much further to load the top of the page with ads to an excessive degree or that make it hard to find the actual original content on the page.

This new algorithmic improvement tends to impact sites where there is only a small amount of visible content above-the-fold or relevant content is persistently pushed down by large blocks of ads.

Impacts Less Than 1% Of Searches

Clearly, you’re in trouble if you have little-to-no content showing above the fold for commonly-used screen resolutions. You’ll know you’re in trouble shortly, because the change is now going into effect. If you suddenly see a drop in traffic today, and you’re heavy on the ads, chances are you’ve been hit by the new algorithm.

For those ready to panic, Cutts told me the change will impact less than 1% of Google’s searches globally, which today’s post also stresses.

Fixed Your Ads? Penalty Doesn’t Immediately Lift

What happens if you’re hit? Make changes, then wait a few weeks.

Similar to how last year’s Panda Update works, Google is examining sites it finds and effectively tagging them as being too ad-heavy or not. If you’re tagged that way, you get a ranking decrease attached to your entire site (not just particular pages) as part of today’s launch.

If you reduce ads above-the-fold, the penalty doesn’t instantly disappear. Instead, Google will make note of it when it next visits your site. But it can take several weeks until Google’s “push” or “update” until the new changes it has found are integrated into its overall ranking system, effectively removing penalties from sites that have changed and adding them to new ones that have been caught.

Google’s post explains this more:

If you decide to update your page layout, the page layout algorithm will automatically reflect the changes as we re-crawl and process enough pages from your site to assess the changes.

How long that takes will depend on several factors, including the number of pages on your site and how efficiently Googlebot can crawl the content.

On a typical website, it can take several weeks for Googlebot to crawl and process enough pages to reflect layout changes on the site.

Our Why Google Panda Is More A Ranking Factor Than Algorithm Update article explains the situation with Panda, and how it took time between when publishers made changes to remove “thin” content to when they were restored to Google’s good graces. That process is just as applicable to today’s change, even though Panda itself now has much less flux.

Meanwhile, Google AdSense Pushes Ads

Ironically, on the same day that Google’s web search team announced this change, I received this message from Google’s AdSense team encouraging me to put more ads on my site:

This was in relation to my personal blog, Daggle. The image in the email suggests that Google thinks content pretty much should be surrounded by ads.

Of course, if you watch the video that Google refers me (and others) to in the email, it promotes careful placement, that user experience be considered and, at one point, shows a page top-heavy with ads as something that shouldn’t be done.

Still, it’s not hard to easily find sites using Google’s own AdSense ads that are definitely pushing content down as far down on their pages as they can or trying to hide it. Those pages, AdSense or not, are subject to the new rules, Cutts said.

Pages Ad-Heavy, But Not Top-Heavy With Ads, May Escape

As a searcher, I’m happy with the change. But it might not be perfect. For example, here’s something I tweeted about last year:

Yes, that’s my finger being used as an arrow. I was annoyed that to find the actual download link I was after was surrounded by AdSense-powered ads telling me to download other stuff.

This particular site was heavily used by kids who might easily click on an ad by mistake. That’s potentially bad ROI for those advertisers. Heck, as net-savvy adult, I found it a challenge.

But the problem here wasn’t that the content was pushed “below the fold” by ads. It was that the ratio of ads was so high in relation to the content (a single link), plus the misleading nature of the ads around the content.

Are Google’s Own Search Results Top Heavy?

Another issue is that ads on Google’s own search results pages push the “content” — the unpaid editorial listings — down toward the bottom of the page. For example, here’s exactly what’s visible on my MacBook Pro’s 1680×1050 screen:

(Side note, that yellow color around the ads in the screenshot? It’s much darker in the screenshot than what I see with my eyes. In reality, the color is so washed-out that it might as well be invisible. That’s something some have felt has been deliberately engineered by Google to make ads less noticeable as ads).

The blue box surrounds the content, the search listings that lead you to actual merchants selling trash cans, in this example. Some may argue that the Google shopping results box is further pushing down the “real content” of listings that lead out of Google. But the shopping results themselves do lead you to external merchants, so I consider them to be content.

The example above is pretty extreme, showing the maximum of three ads that Google will ever show above its search results (with a key exception, below). Even then, there’s content visible, with it making up around half the page or more, if you include the Related Searches area as content.

My laptop’s screen resolution is pretty high, of course. Others would see less (Google’s Browser Size tool doesn’t work to measure its own search results pages). But you can expect Google will take “do as I say, not as I do” criticism on this issue.

Indeed, I shared this story initially with the main details, then started working on this section. After that was done, I could see this type of criticism already happening, both in the comments or over on my Google+ post and Facebook post about the change.

Here’s a screenshot that Daniel Weadley shared in my Google+ post about what he sees on his netbook:

In this example, Google’s doing a rare display of four ads. That’s because it’s showing the maximum of three regular ads it will show with a special Comparison Ads unit on top of those. And that will just add fuel to criticisms that if Google is taking aim at pages top-heavy with ads, it might need to also look closer to home.

NOTE: About three hours after I wrote this, Google clearly saw the criticisms about ads on its own search results pages and sent this statement:

This is a site-based algorithm that looks at all the pages across an entire site in aggregate. Although it’s possible to find a few searches on Google that trigger many ads, it’s vastly more common to have no ads or few ads on a page.

Again, this algorithm change is designed to demote sites that make it difficult for a user to get to the content and offer a bad user experience.

Having an ad above-the-fold doesn’t imply that you’re affected by this change. It’s that excessive behavior that we’re working to avoid for our users.

Algorithms? Signals?

Does all this talk about ranking signals and algorithms have you confused? Our video below explains briefly how a search engine’s algorithm works to rank web pages:

Also see our Periodic Table Of SEO Ranking Factors, which explains some of the other ranking signals that Google uses in its algorithm:

Name The Update & More Info

Today’s change is a new, significant ranking factor for our table, one we’ll add in a future update, probably as Va, for “Violation, Ad-Heavy site.”

Often when Google rolls out new algorithms, it gives them names. Last year’s Panda Update was a classic example of this. But Google’s not given one to this update (I did ask). It’s just being called the “page layout algorithm.”

Boring. Unhelpful for easy reference. If you’d like to brainstorm a name, visit our posts on Google+ and on Facebook, where we’re asking for ideas.

Now for the self-interested closing. You can bet this will be a big topic of discussion at our upcoming SMX West search marketing conference at the end of next month, especially on the Ask The Search Engines panel. So check out our full agenda and consider attending.

Postscript: Some have been asking in the comments about how Google knows what an ad is. I asked, and here’s what Google said:

We have a variety of signals that algorithmically determine what type of ad or content appears above the fold, but no further details to share. It is completely algorithmic in its detection–we don’t use any sort of hard-coded list of ad providers.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

30 New Changes in Google's Search Results and Algorithm

Here’s the list for December, 2011:

  • Image Search landing page quality signals. [launch codename “simple”] This is an improvement that analyzes various landing page signals for Image Search. We want to make sure that not only are we showing you the most relevant images, but we are also linking to the highest quality source pages.
  • More relevant sitelinks. [launch codename “concepts”, project codename “Megasitelinks”] We improved our algorithm for picking sitelinks. The result is more relevant sitelinks; for example, we may show sitelinks specific to your metropolitan region, which you can control with your location setting.
  • Soft 404 Detection. Web servers generally return the 404 status code when someone requests a page that doesn’t exist. However, some sites are configured to return other status codes, even though the page content might explain that the page was not found. We call these soft 404s (or “crypto” 404s) and they can be problematic for search engines because we aren’t sure if we should ignore the pages. This change is an improvement to how we detect soft 404s, especially in Russian, German and Spanish. For all you webmasters out there, the best practice is still to always use the correct response code.
  • More accurate country-restricted searches. [launch codename “greencr”] On domains other than .com, users have the option to see only results from their particular country. This is a new algorithm that uses several signals to better determine where web documents are from, improving the accuracy of this feature.
  • More rich snippets. We improved our process for detecting sites that qualify for shopping, recipe and review rich snippets. As a result, you should start seeing more sites with rich snippets in search results.
  • Better infrastructure for autocomplete. This is an infrastructure change to improve how our autocomplete algorithm handles spelling corrections for query prefixes (the beginning part of a search).
  • Better spam detection in Image Search. [launch codename “leaf”] This change improves our spam detection in Image Search by extending algorithms we already use for our main search results.
  • Google Instant enhancements for Japanese. For languages that use non-Latin characters, many users use a special IME (Input Method Editor) to enter queries. This change works with browsers that are IME-aware to better handle Japanese queries in Google Instant.
  • More accurate byline dates. [launch codename “foby”] We made a few improvements to how we determine what date to associate with a document. As a result, you’ll see more accurate dates annotating search results.
  • Live results for NFL and college football. [project codename “Live Results”] We’ve added new live results for NFL.com and ESPN’s NCAA Football results. These results now provide the latest scores, schedules and standings for your favorite football teams.
  • Improved dataset for related queries. We are now using an improved dataset on term relationships to find related queries. We sometimes include results for queries that are related to your original search, and this improvement leads to results from more relevant related queries.
  • Related query improvements. [launch codename “lyndsy”] Sometimes we fetch results for queries that are related to the original query but have fewer words. We made several changes to our algorithms to make them more conservative and less likely to introduce results without query words.
  • Better lyrics results. [launch codename “baschi”, project codename “Contra”] This change improves our result quality for lyrics searches.
  • Tweak to +1 button on results page. As part of our continued effort to deliver a beautifully simple user experience across Google products, we’ve made a subtle tweak to how the +1 button appears on the results page. Now the +1 button will only appear when you hover over a result or when the result has already been +1’d.
  • Better spell correction in Vietnamese. [project codename “Pho Viet”] We launched a new Vietnamese spelling model. This will help give more accurate spelling predictions for Vietnamese queries.
  • Upcoming events at venues. We've improved the recently released places panel for event venues. For major venues, we now show up to three upcoming events on the right of the page. Try it for [staples center los angeles] or [paradise rock club boston].
  • Improvements to image size signal. [launch codename “matter”] This is an improvement to how we use the size of images as a ranking signal in Image Search. With this change, you’ll tend to see images with larger full-size versions.
  • Improved Hebrew synonyms. [launch codename “SweatNovember”, project codename “Synonyms”] This update refines how we handle Hebrew synonyms across multiple languages. Context matters a lot for translation, so this change prevents us from using translated synonyms that are not actually relevant to the query context.
  • Safer searching. [launch codename “Hoengg”, project codename "SafeSearch"] We updated our SafeSearch tool to provide better filtering for certain queries when strict SafeSearch is enabled.
  • Encrypted search available on new regional domains. Google now offers encrypted search by default on google.com for signed-in users, but it’s not the default on our other regional domains (eg: google.fr for France). Now users in the UK, Germany and France can opt in to encrypted search by navigating directly to an SSL version of Google Search on their respective regional domains: https://www.google.co.uk, https://www.google.de and https://www.google.fr.
  • Faster mobile browsing. [launch codename “old possum”, project codename “Skip Redirect”] Many websites redirect smartphone users to another page that is optimized for smartphone browsers. This change uses the final smartphone destination url in our mobile search results, so you can bypass all the redirects and load the target page faster.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

30 Social Media Predictions for 2012 From the Pros

How will social media impact businesses in 2012?

We sought expert opinions from a wide range of pros you’re likely familiar with.

We are grateful for the dozens of social media professionals who have written over 600 articles for us since we started Social Media Examiner in October 2009.

To give you a glimpse of what we can expect in the next 12 months, we decided to tap their knowledge and expertise. Here are their predictions of where social media is headed in the next 12 months.

#1: Businesses consolidate social media activities

Michael Stelzner

Michael Stelzner @mike_stelzner

As the social media landscape becomes more crowded in 2012, businesses will pick their battles and dig in. What used to be simply Facebook and Twitter is now Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (and who knows what’s next). On top of this, you have many specialty networks like Foursquare, Yelp and Instagram.

The old mantra of “be everywhere” will quickly be replaced with “be where it matters to our business.”

The major four players have all gone through massive changes in preparation for the battle for users. But don’t let a shiny new wrapping be the motivation to focus on social network A or B. Instead, it will be essential to focus where you’ll see results. And that may not necessarily be Facebook or Twitter for your business.

preparing for battle

Have you picked your battle? Image source: Flickr

Michael Stelzner, founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner.

#2: Photo and video social networks will blossom

Jay Baer

Jay Baer @JayBaer

We’ve been nibbling around it for a while, but 2012 will be the year of the multimedia social network.

Photo- and video-based social interaction will grow. There is more meat on Instagram and Viddy and Tout than bun, and that enables the whole point of social networking—making and perpetuating connections and seeing the world through someone else’s eyes.

I don’t expect these services to dethrone Facebook, as many people simply are not comfortable with multimedia. But already you’re seeing power users reduce their Facebook (and Twitter) musings in favor of multimedia, where a picture (or video) speaks louder than 140 characters.

Given that the camera on your smartphone is almost as good as your actual camera, the multimedia-driven social networks are here to stay and will be an emerging force for brands in 2012, too.


Multimedia-driven social networks are changing the playground.

Jay Baer, author of the popular social media blog Convince & Convert and co-author of The Now Revolution.

#3: Brands embrace real time

Ekaterina Walter

Ekaterina Walter @ekaterina

Brands should move to agile marketing and real-time thinking. Gone are the days when it took 6 months to develop and launch a campaign or 5 days to answer a disgruntled customer.

Brands need to master the art of opportunistic marketing and the art of real-time response. To break through the online noise, they need to stand out with their creative thinking around capitalizing on current buzz and trends.

For that, brands need the right infrastructure and agile processes that will allow them to intuitively and immediately pick up on the marketing opportunities. They need agencies that can adapt, react and support them in real time as well.

businessman makes a leap

Brands need to be ready for real-time response. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Ekaterina Walter, social media strategist at Intel.

#4: Strategy takes center stage for social media

Jason Falls

Jason Falls @JasonFalls

I firmly believe that 2012 is the year most business start to turn the corner on embracing and understanding social media marketing and using it more strategically. We’ve had enough of the hippie, tree-hugger, Kumbaya nonsense and want to start using social media as a strategic business driver.

Now is the time. Businesses will start to show their chops in 2012.

tree hug

The tree-hugging time is over. It's time to focus on social strategy. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Jason Falls, principal of Social Media Explorer and author of No Bullshit Social Media.

#5: New apps help with content overload

Leo Widrich

Leo Widrich @leowid

I believe that 2012 will be the year that we will see a lot more apps and companies come forward to help free us from content overload. This hopefully means both to make reading content and sharing it more meaningful and less cluttering.

I think this will come down to throttling, filtering and optimizing the content that reaches our eyes and that we share. Especially if Zuckerberg’s Law of sharing holds true, this will be an amazing opportunity.

I am sure there will be some fabulous new inventions coming to the social media world regarding this in 2012.

documents and file folders

Freedom from content overload is on the way. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Leo Widrich, co-founder of BufferApp.com.

#6: Businesses outsource content creation

nichole kelly

Nichole Kelly @Nichole_Kelly

As social media becomes more mainstream, content will continue to play a bigger role. However, stretched marketing teams will continue to struggle with adding content creation to their already full plates.

Therefore, marketers will need to find a sustainable model for creating amazing content, which may include more outsourcing. As social media matures, efficiency will become an increasingly important factor.

Nichole Kelly, founder of FullFrontalROI.com.

#7: Advanced analytics are coming for the masses

Dag Holmboe

Dag Holmboe @dagh

Today a lot of what we call social media analytics is actually social media metrics, which is a lot of data telling a story of the past using great data visualizations.

Advanced analytics are already being performed inside large agencies, brands and social networking sites. Data analysts and scientists, many with advanced degrees in statistics and computer science, primarily do the work.

In 2012, we will see social media analytics companies releasing simplified SaaS (software as a service) tools for smaller agencies and brands to perform similar, less complex analytical functions. The tools will tell a story of not only what happened, but also of why it happened, and to model and predict the future.


Small businesses will have access to advanced social media analytics. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Dag Holmboe, CEO of Klurig Analytics.

#8: Regularly creating unique content becomes essential

Lewis Howes

Lewis Howes @LewisHowes

For a company or brand to be successful marketing with social media in 2012, two main things will need to happen.

  1. Create unique content. So many brands and individuals are creating amazing content that you will need to do something not only amazing but unique, so that you gain the attention you’re looking for.
  2. Be consistent. You can’t just create this unique content a few times; you need to create a schedule for yourself to come out with unique content on a consistent basis.

If you fail to do both of these, someone else will gain your customers’ attention.

Lewis Howes, co-author of LinkedWorking: Generating Success on the World’s Largest Professional Networking Website and founder of Sports Executives Association and SportsNetworker.com events.

#9: Businesses learn to choose the right channels

Ryan Malone

Ryan Malone @ RyanMalone

In 2012, I think that much of the overzealousness currently in social media will be replaced by a nuts-and-bolts focus on getting the most out of the channels that fit your business.

Companies will focus on fewer channels, and they’ll want to dominate them instead of being diluted across all channels. The adage of “master your craft” will ring true for the companies that stay focused.

Ryan Malone runs SmartBug Media.

#10: Facebook’s growth inspires unique Facebook marketing experiences

Amy Porterfield

Amy Porterfield @amyporterfield

In early 2012, Facebook will hit ONE BILLION users. With one billion users, you can’t deny the numbers. Facebook is by far the social media powerhouse.

The hype that will surround the one billion milestone will only draw more attention to Facebook. Not only will we see a boom of small businesses setting up shop on Facebook, but also those businesses already on Facebook will feel the heat to get even more creative and strategic with their fan activity.

Facebook is getting crowded, and those businesses that create unique user experiences will stand out from the masses. More sophisticated, interactive third-party apps, expanded live video capabilities and greater flexibility with page customization will all play a big part as fan growth and engagement become the most vital components for Facebook success.

Look for more apps to help you market your business on Facebook.

Amy Porterfield, co-author of Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies.

#11: Competition on Google+ rises

kristi hines

Kristi Hines @kikolani

I see social networks getting even more competitive with Google+ trying to dominate the market in 2012!

The top networks (Twitter and Facebook) will be looking to compete by adding even more features. Google+ will continue adding similar creature comforts to their network for page functionality and looking to develop hangouts into something more useful for businesses.

The social network that will come out on top will be the one that listens to their users and allows each user’s messages to receive equal exposure without internal ranking systems judging which news goes to the top and which news gets hidden.

google+ managers

Google+ continues to add new features. Google+ Business Pages can now have multiple managers.

Kristi Hines, freelance writer, online marketing consultant and author of the popular blog Kikolani.

#12: YouTube provides a social experience

Paul Colligan

Paul Colligan @colligan

YouTube will (finally) get recognition and significant use as a major social network.

Google’s social focus demands tighter integration between YouTube and Google+. Google wants to change YouTube consumption from a passive experience to a social one and is primed to do so.

Recent feature additions (like YouTube video viewing in a Google+ hangout) prove that Google will do whatever it takes to make the transition. Those paying attention will respond by focusing on their own personal YouTube networks.

Video production is not required as YouTube members in the content curation and video aggregation space will hold as much sway, if not more, than their content-producing counterparts. Those who do both will, obviously, rise to the top quickly.

Paul Colligan helps busy people leverage new media to get their message out to more people with less effort and for greater profit.

#13: YouTube takes the lead

James Wedmore

James Wedmore @JamesWedmore

My prediction for social media in 2012 can be boiled down into one word: “video.” …as in, more of it!

At just over six years old, YouTube has just recently made some big changes, and they have a lot in store for us in 2012. Their most recent design and layout changes (including YouTube’s home page, which looks strikingly similar to Facebook’s Live Feed function) begin to indicate that YouTube wants to behave more like a social networking site.

The YouTube audience (not just the content creators) will now have more fun, engagement and interaction while on YouTube. The more activity you as a user (or channel) have and receive from your videos, the more opportunity your content has to get viewed and go viral.

YouTube is becoming highly intuitive. By observing your search and viewing behavior online, YouTube will continue to improve and impress us all with how they display relevant and related content in an efficient manner.

Also, with YouTube’s investment in their 100+ channels of “original content creators,” the video-sharing giant has also waged war (and is winning!) against the big TV networks, as they continue to blur the line separating “offline television” and online entertainment.

Combine this with an ever-decreasing barrier of entry for the average person to quickly become a video-producing master, and you’ll notice that in 2012, video quality (picture and sound) and entertainment quality will rapidly increase across the board. This will inevitably result in higher standards and expectations from the average YouTube viewer and leave those who are resistant to using video in their marketing scrambling to catch up.

youtube feed

It's time to check out how you can use YouTube for your business.

James Wedmore, founder of Video Traffic Academy.

#14: YouTube rises to top of mind

Phyllis Khare

Phyllis Khare @PhyllisKhare

Most people might think that G+ will get the most attention in the Google suite of services, but I think YouTube will be top of mind. Why? With the latest redesign, YouTube is cleaning up its Wild West image and coming into alignment to be a grown-up social environment.

If your business is not there yet, make haste and set up your channel and start reaping the benefits of the second-largest search engine on the Internet.

youtube channel

Consider creating a YouTube channel for your business.

Phyllis Khare, co-author of Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies, author of Social Media Marketing eLearning Kit for Dummies and social media director for iPhone Life.

#15: More social players will join in

Casey Hibbard

Casey Hibbard @Casey_Hibbard

I predict that the social media landscape will become more populated with new and powerful players like Pinterest in 2011.

As social media continues to evolve there are opportunities for more multimedia social platforms.

Don’t underestimate the potential for these new sites to start majorly influencing social sharing and traffic—nearly overnight.


Keep an eye open for more useful tools like Pinterest!

Casey Hibbard, Social Media Examiner’s case study writer, president of Compelling Cases Inc. and author of Stories That Sell: Turn Satisfied Customers Into Your Most Powerful Sales & Marketing Asset.

#16: Marketers adopt smarter social media tools

 Stephanie Sammons

Stephanie Sammons @StephSammons

In 2012, social media tools are going to get a lot smarter. These tools are going help us make sense of our social media connections and streams. They will help us maximize our visibility and influence while minimizing our time commitment.

Bufferapp is a terrific example of this. Here is a tool that can provide some intelligence as to when your followers and fans are most likely going to be paying attention to your updates. As you direct content from across the web into Buffer, the app will distribute it for you during those optimal time periods. In a sense, it’s an intelligent and personal social media distribution tool! Forget having to “schedule” tweets and updates. Who has the time?

I strongly believe that the people who commit to learning the new and most effective social intelligence tools as they are introduced will create a significant competitive advantage. These tools will make you more productive and grow your online influence while the competition is still floundering around trying to figure out how to be consistently visible and valuable to their target markets!

Find and focus on the tools that can make you more productive and competitive in 2012!


Check out Buffer and other social media tools that make you smarter.

Stephanie Sammons, founder and CEO of Wired Advisor.

#17: Businesses integrate new content consumption practices

Jim Lodico

Jim Lodico @jlcommunication

The way we read our news and social media streams is changing fast. People are turning to platforms such as Flipboard, Storify, Zite and others to help curate information and sort through the noise. Google, Facebook and Twitter are also making changes to help users find the information they want to read and block the rest.

Businesses looking to place their content in front of their target reader will need to adapt to these changes and new media. This means 1) a continued effort to publish content of the highest quality that readers will want to share, 2) an even further increase in the importance of headlines and images and 3) creating a following that will help drive your content to the top of these new platforms.

From a user’s perspective, I love the new Flipboard platform for iPhone. From a publisher’s perspective however, it can be somewhat intimidating. That said, I think these new platforms will greatly reward content that makes its way to the top.


Stay up-to-date on where your audience gets its information.

Jim Lodico, copywriter and marketing consultant specializing in creating powerful content and teaching businesses how to use blogs.

#18: The “applification” of social media continues

Debbie Hemley

Debbie Hemley @dhemley

I think we will see many more social media apps come out in 2012 for social networking, news aggregation, productivity, entertainment, communication and ebooks.

We’ll be accessing more on smaller screens than ever before and with a few touches and swipes across our screens, we’ll be posting and sharing content with people who are in close proximity to our geolocation, stretching on to all corners of the world.

Debbie Hemley, social media consultant and blogger.

#19: More branded Facebook apps are on the way

Janet Aronica

Janet Aronica @janetaronica

I think we’re going to see more and more companies creating branded Facebook apps in order to leverage Facebook’s real-time news ticker feed. I’m especially interested in news apps such as WSJ Social and The Washington Post Social Reader.

These apps potentially serve as new revenue streams for a rocky industry with advertising opportunities within Facebook. I’m intrigued to see how the digital journalists behind the apps navigate the privacy issues that are all too common to the space as well.

These kinds of Facebook experiences reimagine news consumption as a social activity and I think it’ll be interesting to watch the new apps and partnerships that come out of the space.


Shareaholic's Top Posts App shows bloggers their most popular content, keywords, traffic sources and demographics for 2011.

Janet Aronica, head of marketing for Shareaholic.

#20: More “do it all” services will become available

Corina Mackay

Corina Mackay @corinamackay

We continue to see social media tools and services come and go, as they battle for our time and data. Giants like Facebook, Twitter and Google continue to thrive, but none of them is taking it easy.

From changing designs and new features to acquisitions and complete makeovers, we’ve seen the bar raised time and time again, as these big companies compete for the lion’s share of our attention. Google has our email, documents and appointments; Facebook has our photos, videos and family; and Twitter has the best platform for advertisers to engage with us.

I’m guessing this trend will continue into 2012, with more acquisitions and revamps, and fewer new apps gaining ground in the social space.

Corina Mackay, an entertainment-based social media manager and writer.

#21: Convergence of social and mobile (but maybe not what you’re thinking)

Ben Pickering

Ben Pickering @bpicks

Whether you look at it as social media going mobile or mobile apps getting social, you can bet that 2012 will see a lot more social activity on mobile devices.

However, while experimental marketers will continue to push the envelope with innovative mobile-social campaigns, I’m not predicting that the next year will see Foursquare conquer mainstream America or mass adoption of QR codes.

Rather, what you will see is that a significant amount of the online activity that consumers previously conducted through a computer and traditional web browser will now be done through a smartphone or tablet. Some of this activity will migrate from browser to native applications, but much will be done through a mobile browser.

This means that before worrying about the new-new thing, companies need to think about how existing core marketing initiatives carry through to the mobile web. It needs to be just as easy for someone on a mobile device to not only access content but also to act on that content in a social manner—i.e., “Like” it, share it, etc.

In 2012, smart marketers will be thinking first about optimizing current assets for mobile and then about unique attributes of the mobile experience, such as geolocation, that they can tie into their overall marketing strategy.

smartphone apps

Is your marketing optimized for the mobile experience? Image source: iStockPhoto.

Ben Pickering, CEO of Strutta.

#22: Marketers embrace mobile

Jamie Turner

Jamie Turner @AskJamieTurner

Gartner predicts that by the end of 2012, the number-one way that consumers will be interacting with the Internet is via their smartphones and tablets. Given that, it’s important for marketers of all stripes to embrace mobile.

As intimidating as that may seem, mobile is actually pretty simple to execute. In fact, there are several articles on Social Media Examiner that de-mystify mobile and make using it for small- to mid-sized businesses a snap. Check ‘em out! They’re packed with tips on how to integrate social media into your mobile marketing program.

using phone

Are you prepared for communicating with your customers via smartphones? Image source: iStockPhoto.

Jamie Turner, founder, the 60 Second Marketer and co-author of Go Mobile.

#23: Email and social call a truce

Jason Miller

Jason Miller @JasonMillerCA

Smart marketers understand that social and email marketing are not mutually exclusive. As email becomes more social and social becomes better at finding leads, the platforms will complement one another for smarter, more targeted messaging and list-building efforts.

Jason Miller, programs manager, social media & content at Marketo.

#24: Businesses fall in love with email marketing again

Marc Pitman

Marc Pitman @marcapitman

The quick adoption of Google+ both by users and as an infrastructure change for Google highlights a problem with social media marketing: fragmentation. It’s important to interact with customers where they are, so wisely using the increasing number of tools is good.

But I predict in 2012, savvy marketers will fall back in love with email. Email response rates tend to be greater than most other social media tools. And email is fairly “low-tech,” allowing businesspeople to reach more of their customer base. So I think there’ll be a new wave of blog posts and tools helping people grow their email lists.

Marc Pitman, author and speaker dedicated to making it ridiculously easy for people to get nonprofit fundraising training.

#25: Traditional marketing interweaves social media

Tom Martin

Tom Martin @TomMartin

2012 will be the year of the boomerang. Marketers of all stripes will return to classical marketing thinking. They won’t abandon social media, mobile and the like, but they will demand that those efforts be intelligently interwoven with their existing offline/traditional marketing efforts.

This integration requirement will lead to growth of social media delivered by marketing-oriented firms at the expense of the independent social media guru with little to no actual marketing experience.

Tom Martin, founder of Converse Digital.

#26: The blue-collar blogging revolution heats up

Marcus Sheridan

Marcus Sheridan @TheSalesLion

There is a forgotten group—in fact, I’d say it’s a forgotten majority—when it comes to this movement that is social media. And who is this majority? It’s the thousands upon thousands of blue-collar businesses spread across the globe that up to this point have been slow to embrace social media, but are now joining the ranks of other industries in an effort to change the way things in marketing have always been done.

As someone who has owned a swimming pool company for about 10 years now and also works with many blue-collar businesses in this field of social media, I’ve noticed a very interesting trend in the final months of 2011. Each and every day, more and more mechanics, carpenters, plumbers, landscapers, etc., come to understand the need to embrace this new age of marketing. They’re seeing the trends of the way people shop, think and make decisions. Finally, instead of refusing to tackle their online deficiencies, they’re instead confronting the problem head-on.

More than ever, these businesses are blogging, producing educational videos and leveraging all types of social media. The idea that social media and blogging for business will only shine upon white-collar and tech industries will soon be a thing of the past. Do the blue-collars have a long way to go? Yes, that’s certainly true, but without question, eyes are finally opening and the revolution is just around the corner.

This is what I can’t wait to see unfold as 2012 progresses.

blue collar worker

More blue-collar businesses will adopt social media marketing. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Marcus Sheridan, small business owner, thought leader, popular social media speaker and founder of The Sales Lion.

#27: Marketers learn to craft messages to get above the noise

Jeff Korhan

Jeff Korhan @jeffkorhan

My social media prediction for 2012 is that successful marketers will take greater care to design and package their messaging for attention, usefulness and conversion.

As the tolerance for social media noise approaches a breaking point, the quality of social media content will significantly rise to meet the higher standards of both consumers and search.

Jeff Korhan, professional speaker, consultant and columnist on new media and small business marketing.

#28: The social media gap widens

Charlene Kingston

Charlene Kingston @SocialMediaDIY

I predict that in 2012, the gap between businesses that perform well on social media and those that don’t will widen dramatically.

The newness of social media has worn off. People are looking for businesses that offer practical solutions to their present-moment challenges. It comes down to this: If you are looking at your online community in terms of what you can get from them, you might as well pack up and go home.

For your business to succeed, you must focus on how you can help your customers succeed. Your business attitude shows up in social media in everything you say and do. Your attitude drives your conversation topics, the way you write your tweets and status updates, and your business offerings.

More than ever, your business success depends on how much you help others reach their business success. Your social media success is the canary in the coalmine that demonstrates the health of your business.

Charlene Kingston, founder of the Social Media DIY Workshop.

#29: Businesses invest in quality content

Stephanie Gehman

Stephanie Gehman @airport_girl

I believe we’ll see a surge of quality over quantity in content marketing heading into 2012. As more businesses understand and embrace the imperative for integrating social media into their marketing strategy, I hope they will also recognize the need to stand out in the cacophony of brand messages on the social channels.

In 2012, if businesses want to compete effectively for consumer attention, they will need to engage with tailored, customer-focused and relevant content in order to differentiate themselves from the noisy brand broadcasters.

And, as this realization takes hold with companies, I think we’ll see steep growth in the hiring of qualified and experienced individuals who have a strong grasp of creating and developing valuable content that attracts and engages a business’s target audiences while driving profitable customer conversions and actions.


Businesses opt for quality content in 2012. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Stephanie Gehman, marketing manager for Harrisburg International Airport in Pennsylvania.

#30: Rise of the media specialist

Carla Dewing

Carla Dewing @CarlaDewing

In 2011 we’ve seen a trend toward multifaceted social marketing positions, or people within companies who are expected to have “layered” expertise in social media. Content marketers will have to transcend basic sales, and work within the rapidly expanding technology field.

In 2012 we’ll see these positions solidified, as social marketers working online branch out and become involved in the coding/tech world as well.

These positions will become integral to any social marketing campaign, as singular jobs become more complex, transforming people into media specialists.

One individual must be able to blog, market, work on a multitude of platforms, work within the tech sphere and perform high-level SEO tasks. Otherwise, how will he or she be able to spot social opportunities when they arise?

These media specialists will be required to have a 360-degree view of social media, as their job becomes more demanding and competitive. I also feel that there will be urgency to perfect mobile technology and marketing, as it crosses from the virtual realm into the physical world.

In 2012, it would be short-sighted for businesses to overlook the benefits of having a media specialist on their team!