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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Yes, predictions are hard, especially about the future. But they’re fun!

And, sometimes, they can even be useful. They’re rarely correct but, perhaps, they help clarify and hone one’s thinking about the future.

And so, in the spirit of enlightened thinking about our industry, here are Business Insider Intelligence’s 12 Internet Predictions For 2012:

Google Will Release A $200 Tablet

Amazon’s Kindle Fire changed the tablet game, largely thanks to its price, way below the competition; It looks like it’s going to be a holiday blockbuster;

Meanwhile, Google is fighting a platform war with Apple and has been humiliated on the tablet front, with high-priced, lower-featured Android tablets getting clobbered by the iPad. The way Google can grab tablet marketshare, which it needs to do, is to imitate Amazon’s strategy of selling a radically lower-priced tablet at a loss. And, for the first time, it can do that, since it’s in the process of buying tablet-maker Motorola.

Facebook Will Grow Faster Than Anyone Thinks And Hit 1 Billion Users

Facebook already has 800 million users, and many people assume that its growth is hitting a wall, as it reaches dominance in the big developed markets and it’s locked out of markets like China and Russia. But, there is still a lot of room for growth in places like South-East Asia, India and Brazil, and Facebook’s network effect is a powerful thing.

Twitter Will Build A Huge Business

A lot of ink is being spilt on Twitter’s product, Twitter’s executive turnover, Twitter’s usage–and these are all noteworthy topics to cover. But while all this is going on, Twitter has been quietly building a huge business.

In the past year or so, Twitter has been tentatively experimenting with various ad formats, and now it’s found the formats that work for advertisers and consumers. 2012 will be the year when Twitter really scales it up and starts generating very serious revenue.

RIM Will Sell

It’s over for RIM. The company’s the walking dead. We all know that. The market now has realized it. At some point someone like HTC or Nokia or someone else will snap it up for its patents and its enterprise business. (Maybe even ZTE, the Chinese mobile OEM that is trying to move up the stack and become a consumer brand.)

Apple Will Boringly Grow In Line With Analysts’ Estimates

apple earnings versus analyst expectationsApple has had an uncanny ability to explode past most analyst estimates, as this great chart at right from Asymco’s Horace Dediu shows. This was due to two reasons: analysts underestimated Apple, and Apple grabbed on to two huge rocketship markets with the iPhone and the iPad.

These two problems are being solved. The iPhone is hitting a natural limit as Android swallows the market, and while the iPad is ushering in the post-PC era, its growth is probably steadily predictable. And while Apple is likely to come out with some sort of amazing revolutionary new TV product next year, that’s not as big a market as phones and tablets, so even if it does very well it won’t supercharge Apple’s top and bottom lines, at least not in the first year.

This boring prediction is actually risky: over the past few years, the “safe” bet has been that Apple would overperform, and Apple fanboys have had a lot of fun quoting industry analysts predicting the demise of, you name it, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. And maybe we’ll look this foolish a year from now. But we think Apple is in “cruise speed” and expectations have caught up to this superbly-run and innovative company. So we think Apple will grow fast and be in rude health in 2012, but, for once, won’t deviate much from the consensus forecast.

Nokia Will Do OK

Many people are expecting Nokia to be the next RIM–an ignominious collapse. And indeed it has slid a lot. But Nokia is much bigger than RIM and, unlike RIM, its execs aren’t asleep at the wheels. They are pumping out good phones with a good software platform, into one of the world’s biggest phone distribution channels. It will take many years before we see if Nokia and Microsoft will become a strong player in mobile, but next year Nokia will neither do outstandingly nor collapse, but do OK.

Amazon Will Post Serious Losses And Outstanding Revenue Growth

 

chart of the day, kindle price september 2011

As the price of a Kindle goes down, Amazon’s revenue and losses go up

After years in “harvesting” mode Amazon is back in “investing” mode. Jeff Bezos, the most long-term thinking entrepreneur on Earth, realizes he is looking at some massive opportunities: building a complete digital media distribution ecosystem; building the biggest cloud platform of the 21st century; and, last but not least, eating retail.

 

All of these opportunities require upfront investment. But because Bezos has been at this before, they will pay off. All of the things that Bezos is investing in–below-cost tablets, perks for Amazon Prime subscribers, data centers for Amazon Web Services–show up as more revenue and less profits. We think you will be surprised next year by how big the losses will be and how fast the revenue will grow.

The New Breed Of Vertical, Entertaimnent-Focused Ecommerce Companies Will Get Huge

With the internet now reaching over a billion people, plenty of vertical markets have reached a tipping point, becoming big enough to support massive companies focused on one product category. Examples include Gilt Groupe for fashion, Warby Parker for glasses, One Kings’ Lane and Fab.com for home decor, and others. With these pioneers leading the way, investment and value creation in this area will proliferate. (Thanks to Silicon Valley demigod Marc Andreessen for reminding us.)

2012 Will Finally Be The Year Mobile Advertising Really Take Off, With At Least One AdNet Going Public

 

Business Insider Ignition 2011 33

Where usage leads, dollars follow…

Mobile advertising is still tiny compared to internet advertising, let alone all advertising, but it won’t stay that way forever: smartphones are proliferating, outselling even PCs, and will soon reach a scale unseen in the history of computing. This isn’t a bold prediction. What may be bolder is that some mobile ad companies will finally grow huge this year, with a mobile ad network, probably either InMobi or Millenial Media, going public. Mobile isn’t yet taking over the world, but it’s now big enough that some companies are now generating serious revenue and we’ll see more of that.

 

Rovio Will Open At Least One Store In The US

Rovio is (or at least wants to be) the next Disney: it makes money not so much through the products it’s known for (movies for Disney, games for Rovio), but through tons of merchandise connected to the magic brands these products popularize. Accordingly, Rovio has an ambitious retail strategy of opening amazing Angry Birds stores, and it will probably open one in the US in 2012 (though Europe and China are first).

This Year, Enterprise-Focused Startups Will Blow Up

“Enterprise is sexy.” You’re about to hear that phrase a lot. The stars are all aligned for enterprise startups. Companies are sitting on tons of cash, not knowing what to do with it, because of the economy. Trends like the consumerization of IT, the proliferation of new mobile devices and the cloud have converged, giving a serious opportunity for newcomers to displace the incumbent enterprise software players. 2012 will be a year of big IPOs (like Workday) and big financings (YammerBox.net) for ambitious enterprise startups.

You Will See A Ton Of Hype Around “The Internet Of Things”

“The Internet Of Things” is a catchy term revolving around the idea that most everyday objects around us will be equipped with internet-collected electronics, and this will open up new applications. This goes from novelty items like scales that tweet your weight (encouraging you through peer pressure to watch it) to ambitious visions like Jawbone’s steps toward wearable computing. We’re not yet sure if The Internet Of Things will be a huge business or a passing fad, but we’re willing to bet you’ll be hearing a ton about it in 2012.
Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/12-industry-predictions-for-2012-2011-12#ixzz1hoNesuAU

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At McGhee Productivity Solutions, we have consultants and employees located around the country. Because we work together on a lot of documents, we need a central location where we can store and edit these documents as well as keep track of our schedules. To work together as efficiently as possible, we use a team website created with Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services. Team sites work great if you have team members working in different locations, or even if your team is all in one office.

In this article, I’m going to give you 7 tips we’ve learned in setting up and using our team website. These tips can help you get up and running productively as quickly as possible with your site.

Note:  Windows SharePoint Services is a great, and underused, tool for managing teams and team projects. You can use it to create a team website to track objectives and projects, as well as have a central location for storing and collaborating on documents.

Image of a team website created with Windows SharePoint ServicesExample of a team website created with Windows SharePoint Services.

1. Create folder names that are clear and consistent

Organize site folders by whatever makes the most sense for your team. The key is to be clear and, above all, consistent. For example you could choose to organize:

  • By department
  • By objective
  • Alphabetically
  • By clients
  • By project

We also create a new Document Library folder in SharePoint for each project. We can store all of our files related to a project in a Document Library. This not only helps keep our files organized, but makes it easier if a project is reassigned for the new owner to take ownership of all the associated materials. Learn how to add a new Document Library folder.


2. Develop standards for naming files

Decide as a team how you want to name your files. For example, you can insist that a date be attached to each file, or that the person who created the file put their initials in the file name. Also, you can take advantage of the fact that you can use long file names for files and SharePoint folders. Be sure to publish your naming structure so that everyone on the team knows what it is. Above all, be consistent in reinforcing and using this naming convention. This is critical. We’ve found that if you don’t, your team won’t know how find files and therefore won’t use the site effectively.


3. Keep only the latest versions of files

Develop an archive folder system for keeping previous versions of files for historical or version control needs. We keep only one current version in our “active” folders. This clears up any possible confusion over which version of a document should be used, particularly when your team members download files to their computer to work on while they’re traveling or working out of their office.

If your team members do copy files onto their computers, you need to take extra precautions to ensure you only have the most current versions of their files on the team website. If team members keep versions of files on their computer, they should change the file name. That way, if they upload the file at a later date, they will not overwrite something on the team website that might have been edited in the meantime.


4. Give clear ownership of each section of the team website

Give each folder a single owner who can add files to it. We find that this ensures the integrity of naming and file structures within each section of the team website. Multiple people may edit documents in various folders, but we make sure no one else uploads new documents or creates new folders inside a folder owned by someone else.


5. Check out and check in files

You will probably have a number of files (like sales data) that are accessed and edited by several team members. While SharePoint won’t allow multiple people to save an open file, it is possible for a person to open a file while someone else is editing it. Unless the file is checked out, you run the risk of more than one person working on the same file. One or more people may end up doing work that can’t be properly saved. And if a user doesn’t check the file back in, then others can’t access it. Learn how to:

Image of how to check out a fileMake sure you check out files on your team website before working on them.


6. Clearly describe folder contents

As people on the team change, they will need to know what they can expect to find in different Document Library folders. Because we include a clear description of each folder, the new team member knows what’s in each folder and can find the documents they need to get up to speed a lot faster. This has been really useful to us when an account grows large enough that we add another consultant to the team. We also modify the descriptions when we complete a project. We designate the library as containing archive information rather than active information.

Image of a Document LibraryClearly describe each folder in your Document Library.

To put in a detailed description of a Document Library:

  1. Click on the Document Library you want to edit.
  2. In the Document Library you want to edit, in the left navigation, click Modify Settings and Columns.
  3. On the Customize page, in the General Settings section, click Change General Settings.
  4. This takes you to the Document Library Settings page, In the Name and Description section, type in the description of the folder. Click OK.

7. Link to files in SharePoint folders

When you’re working on a project, it’s easy to just insert a file from the team website into an email. By sending out different versions of the same file, however, you could end up with multiple versions of the same document. It’s far more reliable to just insert a link to the document in your email. You can also put links to SharePoint documents into a task in Microsoft Office Outlook, or into an appointment on your calendar.

If you store multiple copies of a file on your team website, it’s also easy for one copy of the file to get modified and leave the others out of date. Instead, we make sure we only have one version of a document and link to it from other places when necessary.

To put a link to file on your team website into any Microsoft Office document:

  1. Locate the document you want to create a link for. Put your cursor over the document name until the file name turns red.
  2. Right-click on the red file name and in the drop-down menu and click Copy Shortcut.
  3. With your mouse cursor in the body of your task, appointment, contact, documents folder, or in another file, right-click and click Paste. This will paste the link. When you click on the link, it will open the actual document.
Image of a how to copy a shortcut in Windows SharePoint ServicesPut links to documents on your team website rather then putting different versions in multiple locations.

To put a link to file on your team website into another part of the website:

  1. Locate the document you want to create a link for. Put your cursor over the document name until the file name turns red.
  2. Right-click on the red file name and in the drop-down menu and click Copy Shortcut.
  3. Navigate to the folder you want to include the link in. Click New Document. SharePoint will open a new document called “template.htm” in Microsoft Word.
  4. Paste the shortcut into the new document. Select all of the text and right click on it.
  5. Click Hyperlink… and type in the text you want in the Text to display box (for example, “Click here to see the final version of this presentation.”) Click OK.
  6. Save the file. When anyone opens this file, clicking the link will take them to the current version of the referenced file.

I hope sharing some of the lessons we’ve learned at McGhee Productivity Solutions will help you get a head start on your own team website.

Source: Microsoft at Work

http://www.microsoft.com/atwork/collaboration/teamsites.aspx?WT.rss_f=At%20Work%20RSS&WT.rss_a=7%20tips%20for%20team%20websites&WT.rss_ev=a

The 5 Best SEO Tools For 2012

I recently got back from a month’s vacation — the longest I’ve ever taken, and a shocking indulgence for an American. (Earlier this summer, I was still fretting about how to pull off two weeks unplugged.) The distance, though, helped me hone in on what’s actually important to my professional career — and which make-work activities merely provide the illusion of progress. Inspired by HBR blogger Peter Bregman’s idea of creating a “to ignore” list , here are the activities I’m going to stop cold turkey in 2012 — and perhaps you should, too.

  1. Responding Like a Trained Monkey. Every productivity expert in the world will tell you to check email at periodic intervals — say, every 90 minutes — rather than clicking “refresh” like a Pavlovian mutt. Of course, almost no one listens, because studies have shown email’s “variable interval reinforcement schedule” is basically a slot machine for your brain. But spending a month away — and only checking email weekly — showed me how little really requires immediate response. In fact, nothing. A 90 minute wait won’t kill anyone, and will allow you to accomplish something substantive during your workday.
  2. Mindless Traditions. I recently invited a friend to a prime networking event. “Can I play it by ear?” she asked. “This is my last weekend to get holiday cards out and I haven’t mailed a single one. It is causing stress!” In the moment, not fulfilling an “obligation” (like sending holiday cards) can make you feel guilty. But if you’re in search of professional advancement, is a holiday card (buried among the deluge) going to make a difference? If you want to connect, do something unusual — get in touch at a different time of year, or give your contacts a personal call, or even better, meet up face-to-face. You have to ask if your business traditions are generating the results you want.
  3. Reading Annoying Things. I have nearly a dozen newspaper and magazine subscriptions, the result of alluring specials ($10 for an entire year!) and the compulsion not to miss out on crucial information. But after detoxing for a month, I was able to reflect on which publications actually refreshed me — and which felt like a duty. The New Yorker , even though it’s not a business publication, broadens my perspective and is a genuine pleasure to read. The pretentious tech publication with crazy layouts and too-small print? Not so much. I’m weeding out and paring down to literary essentials. What subscriptions can you get rid of?
  4. Work That’s Not Worth It. Early in my career, I was thrilled to win a five-year, quarter-million dollar contract. That is, until the reality set in that it was a government contract, filled with ridiculous reporting mechanisms, low reimbursement rates and administrative complexities that sucked the joy and profit out of the work. When budget cuts rolled around and my contract got whacked, it turned out to be a blessing. These days, I’m eschewing any engagement, public or private, that looks like more trouble than it’s worth.
  5. Making Things More Complicated Than They Should Be. A while back, a colleague approached me with an idea. She wanted me to be a part of a professional development event she was organizing in her city, featuring several speakers and consultants. She recommended biweekly check-in calls for the next eight months, leading up to the event. “Have you organized an event like this before?” I asked. “Can you actually get the participants? Why don’t you test the demand first?” When none materialized, I realized I’d saved myself nearly half a week’s work — in futile conference calls — by insisting the event had to be “real” before we invested in it. As Eric Ries points out in his new book The Lean Startup , developing the best code or building the best product in the world is meaningless if your customers don’t end up wanting it. Instead, test early and often to ensure you’re not wasting your time. What ideas should you test before you’ve gone too far?

Eliminating these five activities is likely to save me hundreds of hours next year — time I can spend expanding my business and doing things that matter. What are you going to stop doing? And how are you going to leverage all that extra time?

Source: Harvard Business Review

Whenever you download a file—whether you open a spreadsheet attached to an email message, grab a cool little screensaver or mouse cursor from the web, or download music or video files from someone else’s computer—you could be putting your computer at risk.

You can take some basic steps to protect your PC and your company’s network:

  • Set up your computer with security protection. When you upgrade to Windows 7 from Windows XP, you automatically get a lot of security protection built right into the system.
  • Increase your awareness of attack methods so that you can be on the lookout for them.
  • Use tools to remove unwanted software that has been downloaded to your computer (despite your best efforts to prevent it).

Here’s how:

1. Get ready: Strengthen your computer’s defenses

Start by checking with your system administrator to find out about your company’s security tools and policies. Read the articles Understanding security and safer computing and How to boost your malware defense and protect your PC to get an overview of the kinds of threats that exist and what you can do to defend against them. Because new threats are identified every day, remember to keep your security components—including those on the following list—up to date.

  • Firewalls. These include hardware or software that checks information coming from the Internet and either turns it away or lets it pass. Firewalls are built into Windows XP Service Pack 2 and all later versions of the Windows operating system.
  • Antivirus protection. Viruses, worms, and Trojan horses are programs that use the Internet to infect vulnerable computers. Microsoft Security Essentials offers free, real-time protection for your PC against malicious software. Or choose an antivirus program from a list of Microsoft partners who provide anti-malware software.
  • Spyware protection. Spyware can display ads and pop-ups, collect information, and change your computer settings or default home page without you knowing about it. Use Windows Defender, which is available as a free download for Windows XP Service Pack 2 and is built into later versions of Windows. Or install your own antispyware program.
  • Software updates. Regular updates to Windows help protect your computer against new viruses and other security threats. Be sure you’re using the latest version of your web browser, and turn on the browser’s security features.
  • Email spam filters. Microsoft Outlook includes a junk email filter, as do many other email programs, along with additional features that can help block unwanted messages, disable links, and warn you about threatening content.

2. Download with caution: Think first. Click later.

With your computer’s defenses strengthened, the rest is up to you. Here’s what you can do to protect your computer.

  • Beware of fraudulent email messages. Don’t click links or open attachments unless you’re sure of the source. In pop-up messages or warnings, click the Close box (close box) instead of OK or Agree to get rid of the box.
  • Only download from reputable sites. Be cautious about downloading from unknown sources and from sites containing objectionable material or too-good-to be-true offers. Microsoft Download Center, for example, is the best, safest source for Microsoft products. Bookmark it in your browser’s favorites, and check it out to find the most popular downloads, free trials, and newest software available from us.
  • Install and use file-sharing programs cautiously. When you use file-sharing programs to trade music, video, or other files on the web, you make some of your files—or even your entire hard disk drive—available to others using similar software.
  • Save files for safer downloads. . If you’ve decided to download a file from the Internet, save the file first to your hard drive. Then, when you attempt to open the file, your antivirus software can check the file and delete it if it detects potentially damaging code. To do this, in the File Download dialog box, click the Save button instead of the Run or Open button.

3. Remove malicious software

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you may download a program you don’t want. If this happens to you, here are some ways to get rid of it:

  • Run antispyware tools. Windows Defender, which is built into Windows Vista and Windows 7, reduces the likelihood of downloading spyware in the first place. If you are using another antispyware program, make sure it is up to date and then scan your system, following the instructions for removing suspicious software.
  • Run the malicious software removal tool. Users of earlier versions of Windows who suspect that malware is causing their computers to slow down or fail can use the Malicious Software Removal Tool to remove the malware.
  • Disable add-ons. Web browser add-ons can display things like toolbars and stock tickers but can also install spyware or other malicious software. In Internet Explorer, you can disable add-ons from the Tools menu. Click Manage Add-ons, select the one you want to disable, and then click Disable.

Due to the changing nature of potential attacks, preventing malicious software from damaging your computer takes continuous vigilance. However, by installing and updating protection tools and by using caution when you work, you can help minimize the risk.

Source: Microsoft at Work

Last week, in writing about the top social media influencers I was struck by the sheer scale of connectivity that leading influencers create for themselves. Chris Broganfor example has an astonishing 122,000 identifiable followers onTwitter (up from 115,000 last week) and strong followings on LinkedIn, Facebook, andGoogle + where he has almost 67,000 followers. 60,000 people subscribe to Mari Smith’s public updates on Facebook, along with approximately 77,000 identifiable people who follow her on Twitter.

Two things are remarkable about the numbers.

The first is the scale. Chris Brogan has a pull or reach that is over 3,000 times more powerful than that of the average Twitter user. Mari’s reach (or social pull) is 1800 times greater than the average Twitter user’s.

The second is the fact that we can identify those 122,000 people through tools like PeekYou analytics. In building a web of identifiable people we’re also moving the point of connection in business from the corporation to the person and creating more opportunities for a more individual form of captialism where the person, the networked power of the individual, is the new capital.

To get a better handle on that I asked three of the social media power influencers about their network building and what it means to their businesses to have strong social media influence.

The three are Mari, Pam Moore and Jason Falls.

Jason is exceptional in having a very large average network size (13,000). That means the average network size of each of his followers is 13,000. Mari – with a much larger following – has an average network size of 11,000. Pam Moore with an identifiable following of  around 41,000 has a reach, or social pull, approaching 1600, that is 1600 times the average Twitter user.

Q: I wanted to know when they decided that this was a goal for them – to grow a powerful network:

Jason Falls

My focus on networking for business purposes began in earnest in late 2005 and early 2006. I was transitioning out of a niche area of public relations into mainstream marketing and PR, and social media was beginning to percolate as a subject in the broad marketing world. I’d used social media (blogging and social network platforms in particular) for personal reasons for a long time and knew my way around.

As I began to add professional contacts in the mainstream world, my network began to grow. It wasn’t until late 2007, early 2008, however, that I started speaking at conferences and focusing my networking on influencers. That’s when I went from 1,000 social contacts to 5K, 10K, etc. At BlogWorld & New Media Expo in the fall of 2007, I decided to target the power players, get introduced, ensure they knew who I was and I was working with brands and knew a thing or two. Every bit of my networking since has been targeted and purposeful.

Mari Smith

I joined Twitter in September 2007; I was already active on Facebook about four months prior to that. At the time, I was running my business fulltime from the road, traveling the U.S. in an RV. I would share all manner of photos from my various travels and my network began to grow from there — people would tune in to find out which city I was in and what activities I was enjoying. I kept my growth milestones moderate at first, growing to my first 1,000 followers, then 2,000 and so on. I was never aggressive in pursuing followers, but I was proactive.

Q: I asked what are they are most focused on?

Pam Moore:

I don’t like to focus on one network over the other. Instead I like to focus on an integrated strategy that leverages content to connect with audiences with a goal of meeting both life and business objectives.

How I use each of the following:

Blog: Provide the best possible content I can to inspire and connect with target audiences.

Twitter: Enables me to reach a large network of folks who enjoy and share my content with their friends.  Also enables me to build communities that are taken offline and on to other social networks for further nurturing.

LinkedIn: Where people validate what I do, what I have done and who I am.

Facebook: Enables me to more intimately connect with people via my personal Facebook page, business page and private groups.

YouTube: Similar to my blog but in video format. It was a key success contributor while in startup mode.

Google+: Similar to all of the above but enables me to connect with my most favorite, geeky friends.

I get the highest number of qualified leads from LinkedIn. However, I have also received hot leads via Twitter DM and Facebook messages. I have been a member of LinkedIn for many years. I have a network size of 1700+ and know most all of the people I am connected to. I have over 50 recommendations from current and past colleagues and clients.  The growth of this network has been 100% organic and a spill over from past employers, other social networks and life!

TweetChats: I host #GetRealChat on Tuesday 9pm ET. We average 12-18 million impressions for a single TweetChat. The community has grown substantially since January. We have had many guests including AT&T, Argyle Software, Klout, Webtrends, Kred, EmpireAvenue and many more. It enables me to connect with brands as well as give back to the community who has helped me. I have seen people join the tweet chat not knowing how to do a retweet. Many of these same people are now leading communities, quitting their corporate gigs to pursue a life of their dreams.

MS: Facebook has always been my “first love” when it comes to social networks. I proactively, but slowly, built my friends to the maximum of 5,000 over a period of approximately 18 months from 2007 to 2008. Once Facebook launched fan pages for businesses in late 2007, I also began to slowly build up a fan base. It wasn’t until 2009 that my fan page really took off, though. Now, with the recent introduction of the “Subscribe” feature on personal profiles, I gathered over 60,000 subscribers in just 2.5 months and have passed the number of likes on my fan page (57k). Amazing. I’ve found the Subscribers to be the fastest growing social channel I’ve ever seen.

Q: I wondered were there particular thresholds that were like waymarks where the network building started to grow or change. Mari has some interesting points to make there:

MS: Yes. On my Facebook personal profile, those thresholds were at every 1,000 friends – especially given I had been very deliberate about hand-picking most all individuals with which to connect. I was deliberate in reaching out to many influencers, authors, speakers, leaders and Internet marketers. On Twitter, the threshold seemed to be 10,000 followers – once I got to that point, my growth, reach and impact was exponential. I saw some decent traction on Google+ too; I got up to 30,000 followers fairly quickly (less than three months), but am still testing how G+ fits into the mix for my social media marketing plans.

 

Q: I also asked what are the business gains from having this scale of network?

JF: Credibility is the big thing. CEOs of some companies will call me back. Marketing managers of brands who pay a bit of attention to Social MediaExplorer will take my calls. I’m not cold calling if they at least know my name. Micro-celebrity does have some benefits. Being recognized and given a head start on credibility is one of them.

PM:

1.      24/7 Market Research: One known fact about social media is there is always someone to talk to. I love the power of real-time conversation. If you have a question about anything, even at 2 am on a Saturday night you are guaranteed to get a handful of solid opinions and suggestions within a few minutes at the tweet deck!

2.      Agility: Having an always on engaged network provides agility in brand awareness and time to market with new products or business ventures.  As an example, our agency ZoomFactor is experiencing much growth as a result of social media. We have a new business partner and are excited about how agile and accepting our audience is as we transition our brand and launch new services. We take them along with us each step of the way.

3.      Ability to establish authority. Because of the reach a solid network provides, it’s easier to establish authority in a specific topic or content area. This of course assumes you have knowledge and real authority on the content area.

4.      Trusted Voice: Our ability to walk the walk, not just talk the talk helps us close deals and earn trust of new clients based on proven methodologies. By earning our clients trust earlier in the engagement cycle, we can more easily help them become a social business and integrate social media into their business versus simply hiring us to setup their Facebook page (which is what they usually initially think they need).

5.      Hang with the right peeps. I always say that if you hang with 9 brokes you’re going to wind up being the 10th!  It’s important people new to social media hang out with people who are going places. Don’t sit on your lonely Facebook page wishing someone would “like” and talk to you. Instead get out there and engage.

MS: Three primary benefits that I enjoy: 1) the ability to help people out, share their content, and bring a spike in traffic to a quality post, new resource or tool, 2) greater opportunities to participate in – and speak at – online and in-person events around the world, and 3) early invitations to beta test new platforms, tools, and apps.

 

Is there much network crossover, i.e. people following you from Twitter to elsewhere?

JF: People who follow me on Twitter inevitably try to connect with me elsewhere. I’m more choosy on other networks — I want high quality connections, not just passing acquaintances — but I have a fairly low threshold for who’s worth connecting to. I like being connected to a lot of people. It helps you drive more action when you need to.

MS: Absolutely. I intentionally cross promote across my various social channels. At times, I’ll tweet out a permalink from a Google+ post to bring more people over to my Google+ profile. I do the same with the permalink of a post on my Facebook fan page from time to time. I often say to my clients and students that, of all the social networks, Twitter is the easiest to proactively grow. Even though the relationships are non-reciprocal, when you follow people the majority will follow you back. Whereas on a Facebook page, it can be much slower to gain momentum – the act of liking other pages doesn’t create an increase in your own likes. Page owners need to be creative in building a highly engaged community in order to grow their network.

 

Advice to newbies?

PM: Focus on the people. Relationships are the life raft of evolving technology change. Focus on the art of social media over the science. Knowledge of the tools will come with time. Network growth will come with time.  Invest your efforts in connecting to real people, one person at a time. Focus on the heartbeat of social which is real people.

JF: Make sure you’ve got substance to stand on. You can be popular and know everyone, but when they start reading your materials, asking you to speak at events, look at your experience … if there’s little there to speak of, you’re going to be just another follower to them. You’ve got to have a foundation of experience, wisdom, smarts, clients or something to solidify yourself with influencers in your field. Then you can become one yourself. Those without substance don’t last long.

MS: Be active every single day, if only for a few minutes a day. (Okay, you can take Sundays off if you wish, but that’s often a very active day on social networks. Plus, Sunday is Monday on the other side of the world!) During that time, 1) share quality content, 2) engage back, and 3) proactively friend/follow a few more people. You can always do this via your mobile device when away from your desk.

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/haydnshaughnessy/2011/12/08/how-to-be-a-social-media-power-influencer-and-why/1/

How to Use Social Media for Research and Development

Have you ever wished you could use social media to conduct a focus group on your product or service offerings? No, you can’t just open a Twitter account and say, “Hey, what do you think of our new recipe for pie?” But you can approach social media and use it for research and development two different ways: social media monitoring and directly seeking customer feedback. This is feasible even for a small business or one without a research-and-development budget.

The first approach is to use social media monitoring to gather intelligence about your company, product or service, competitors or industry. By listening to online conversations about certain topics your customers might be talking about, you can gather competitive intelligence that can inform your decision making and produce a better offering.

Let’s say you make custom handbags and sell them from your brick-and-mortar location in San Francisco that and they sell fairly well. But you need some R&D or at least some market research to know if what you’re planning to produce makes sense for the new spring line you intend to roll out in the coming weeks.

So you go to a free monitoring service like SocialMention.com or even invest in something a bit more sophisticated, like uberVu, for about $40 per month. You enter some keywords and tinker with a search until you start to see some relevant results for conversations occurring from users in or around Northern California. For instance, “My handbag needs more dividers. I can’t keep my stuff organized,” is a phrase you might see pop up a couple of times.

Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220812