Saturday
Mar092013

Business Web Fact #1

Over the next three years, businesses that make use of the web expect to grow 40% faster than those that don't.

Source: BCG Report, "The Connected World: The $4.2 Trillion Opportunity," March 2012

 

Tuesday
Mar202012

8 Reasons Why Your Business Should Get a Google+ Account (in Addition to your Facebook Account)

by Patrick Launspach, Catamaran Marketing Staff Writer

People may be “Liking” and “Commenting” on Facebook . . . but they’re still Searching on Google

Market experts estimate 65% of online searches are conducted through Google.  Google processes an average of 34,000 searches per second (that’s roughly 2 million per minute, 121 million per hour, 3 billion per day, and 88 billion per month).  In June 2011 Google got to brag that it was the first website to receive 1 billion unique visitors in a single month, a number that Facebook not reached to this day.

Below are 8 reasons why Google+ rivals and may even trump Facebook as the social platform for business and marketing.

Google+ and Search

1. Google+ is highly searchable, Facebook is not.

Facebook does not allow the Google to search its individual pages for content as a result is a massive blind spot to the search engine.  For example if you search “Adidas Facebook” on Google (or any other search engine) you will find Adidas’s Facebook page, but not any other Facebook pages that might be discussing Adidas.  Alternately, Google+ pages are highly searchable and can appear any rankings where the pages are relevant.

2. Google “+1” Impact on Search Results

According to a study of 5,000 businesses conducted by Hubspot Marketing, “Websites that use Google's +1 button generated 3.5 times more traffic from Google+ than websites that don't have the button installed.”  A site does not have to be a Google+ site to install the “+1” button.  However, if this trend is becoming so common, having a profile to connect with users on their turf.

3. Improving Google’s “Intelligence”

This is a topic that I’ve found experts repeatedly bringing up. Google has been working tirelessly to produce search results that are relevant to not only the search term, but specifically to the user performing the search.  As you might have noticed Google will produce different search results based on your past searches, Google account, and your current location.

Google uses Google+ to map out social circles and audiences and to determine what kind of content is relevant to which groups of users.  This means that your business being social on Google+ will help teach the search engine the kind of users find your company interesting, and will help you to appear in relevant listings.

“It’s not hard to see that Google is going to rely quite heavily on Google+ for it’s profile information and social signal mining. If you want Google to recognize you as influential on a topic, you had better build your home on Google+.”

Daniel Cristo, SEO professional and founder of Fluttrs (SEO Hacker)

Google+ Social Media

4. Professional Audience

Many experts state that Facebook is used more personal use while Google+ use is geared more towards business.  This might mean that Facebook could a be a better fit for B2C lifestyle brands (clothing, athletics, leisure, and travel) while Google+ would be better suited for B2B business and professionals (suppliers, plumbers, and real estate agents).

“I find myself using Google+ more for sharing my blog posts and other professional updates as those get a lot more traction on Google+ than Facebook. Then for Facebook, I find I’m starting to use it more for personal updates since getting into Google+. I’m not sure what the change has been, but posting links on Google+ gets a lot more +1′s, comments, and reshares than when I post links on Facebook which seems to have dropped in engagement. Regular status updates on Facebook have been receiving much more reception though.”  

Kristi Hines, Writer, Blogger and Social Media enthusiast (SEO Hacker)

 

5.  Google+ ‘Circles’ allow for Multiple Targeted Messages

Google+ Circles blow Facebook Groups out of the water.  Circles allow you to easily and intuitively arrange your contact and to send a different set of information to your family, friends, coworkers, and clients.   

The advantages of this are huge! You could put your customer base in different circles and send out different media and promotions to different market segments.  From a personal perspective you no longer have to worry about adding someone to your network because you’re afraid what they might see or post on your profile. Simply put them in your acquaintance circle and manage their accessibility.  No more of the “my goldfish looks likes he’s smiling, anyways . . . on my way to class” messages clogging up your newsfeed.

6. Google+ Analytics: Because data trumps guessing every time

Google’s beginnings were in finding and organizing information and Google’s Analytical Software (or website analysis software) has been an industry front-runner for years.  As of right now this software has not been integrated directly into Google+, users can currently run Analytics for Google+ like they would with any other webpage.  However Google is planning on integrating Analytics into the heart of Google+ very soon.  Here is a preview of what looks to be a powerful, yet incredibly intuitive Google+ Analytics.

7. Google+ Hangouts: Free powerful conferencing and collaboration software

Google is already creating a lot buzz with Google+ Hangouts, essentially videoconferencing software that allows up to ten users to video chat with each other all at the same time.  Hangouts also allows screensharing as well as sharing Youtube, Google Docs, and Sketchup integrated directly the software.  This means that all Google+ users will have relatively cutting edge collaboration software that they can use with any other Google+ user.  Hangouts also have an API (application programming interface) option that will allow independent developers to build on top of the software, leaving plenty of room for future innovation.

This creates a huge opportunity for communication in small businesses and all of education.  Most medium to large size businesses already have collaboration software to use internally so this affects them very little internally.  However it does change the game for interacting and collaborating with smaller clients who would have not had such software before Google+.  

8. The Greater Potential of the Google Platform: Google+ is Growing . . . Fast.

Google has an arsenal of free apps and software including Google Docs, Calender, YouTube, Blogger, Books, News, Picasa, Google Music, Picnik (photo-editing), SketchUp (3D model software), Wallet (online checkout), Google Offers, Maps, and more (all of which can be found on the Google homepage under ‘More’>’Even More’ or by clicking here).  With tools like these we can expect many more useful platforms and integrations like Hangouts in the near future.

The Takeaway

Social networks are like fax machines, they are useless unless you know someone else using them.  Currently Google’s biggest weakness is that it only has 90 million users compared to Facebook’s estimated 900 million. However experts predict that Google+ will reach 100 million users by the end of February and Google is predicting that it will nearly triple to 293 million users by the end of the year.  

Between Google+ and Facebook it is difficult to say that one is definitively better than the other, and even more difficult to say that one will trump the other.  Google’s entrance into the social media market has definitely pushed Facebook to step up its game and the competition will definitely improve the user experience for both sides.  It’s likely that, over time, Facebook and Google+ will settle into slightly different markets, possibly with Facebook focusing more on personal use and Google+ catering more to professionals.  

Regardless, its easy to conclude that Google+ is a growing force with great potential.  From with what we’ve seen in just the first six months will be a powerful and efficient way to reach and interact with customers that businesses won’t want to miss out on.

Saturday
Feb182012

Got Skills?

Check this out?
http://catamaranmarketing.com/organizer

Thursday
Feb092012

What’s Your QR IQ?

What Do You Want It To Do?


QR stands for Quick Response. They are two essentially dimensional barcodes. QR codes were originally used by the auto industry in Japan where they are very common. They are used to take a piece of information from a transitory media and put it in to your cell phone. You may soon see QR Codes in a magazine advert, on a billboard, a web page or even on someone’s t-shirt. Once it is in your cell phone, it may give you details about that business (allowing users to search for nearby locations), or details about the person wearing the t-shirt, show you a URL, which you can click to see a trailer for a movie, or it may give you a coupon, which you can use in a local outlet.
Because they are two dimensional, they are many more available and can store (and digitally present) much more data, including URL links, geo coordinates, and text. The other key feature of QR Codes is that instead of requiring a chunky hand-held scanner to scan them, many modern cell phones can scan them. The full Wikipedia description is here.
 

How does the cell phone read the code?
Cell phones use apps (programs) called code readers or scanners that can be downloaded from any app store or market.  Many newer phones’ include a QR reader as part of their camera apps. These apps then connect the cell phone to the piece of media represented by the code (like a website).

How do you generate a code?
A QR code can be easily generated from a regular URL using on a number of websites.  Google provides software to shorten URLs and generate codes at http://goo.gl/. If you are going to print the QR code on collateral material, have your graphic designer create it for you.

How do QR codes make it easier to connect with customers?
If you have an advertisement wanting to direct a consumer to your website you can include your websites simple URL (www.yourname.com).  However if you want this consumer to visit a specific promotion or piece of media without having to type in a long complicated URL you can provide them with a QR code.  
In addition to being easier QR codes prompt consumers to take immediate action.  Because they have to be decoded, and are nearly impossible to memorize, consumers are more likely to scan them and take the appropriate action now, rather than mentally noting URL and forgetting to visit you online later.

How will your customers use them?
Internet capability on smart phones has created a fantastic way to get information on the go, however limited screen size can make browsing sites and hunting down information tiresome.  QR codes can build value for a consumer by connecting to content with value.  Regardless if they’re seeking product details, event information, a funny video, or entering a sweepstakes QR codes help get them there faster and easier.

How to use QR codes most effectively.
To get the most effectiveness out of your QR codes they need to both create value and call the consumer to action.  Wherever the QR code is displayed or printed it needs to give the consumer a motivation to scan the code.  Some ambiguous intriguing messages may work in getting the consumer to take action, however generally a straightforward message with a clear incentive is the most effective.
Once a consumer has scanned your QR code, the landing page they arrive at should have a clear call to action that will creates the opportunity for future interaction (i.e. signing up for your email address or becoming a Fan on Facebook).


How could you use a QR code?
Your business, no matter how small or large, could use QR codes in a number of ways.  Add them to any print advertising, fliers, posters, invites, TV ads etc containing:

  • Product details
    • Product history (fun or informative)
    • Uses (ie recipes or other ways to use your product
    • Complimentary products (other products you make that work with this product)
  • Contact details
    • Name, Address, Phone, Email
    • Company Name
    • Web Site, Blog, Product Page
  • Special Offer Details
  • Event Registraion
  • Contest Entry
  • Social Media Connections
    • Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, YouTube, Google+
  • Map
    • Business, Meeting, Event
  • Email Subscription
Saturday
Dec032011

Facebook for Small Business Success

WHEN:  Tues, Dec 6, 2011, 2:30 - 4:00pm

WHERE: Sonoma Valley Inn, 550 2nd Street West, Sonoma, CA
COST: Free to attendees
PRESENTER: Todd Smith, Catamaran Marketing
   
Facebook is a powerful tool for a small businesses, but only if it is done well. Learn how to be efficient with your time and get the best possible results. In this presentation you will learn what are the best ways to get started the right way using Facebook for business.
We will cover:
  • Why Facebook? 
  • Facebook Profiles vs. Pages
  • How to set a Facebook page up for maximum results
  • How to amplify the page to maximize reach
  • We will examine some case studies for small business' pages and how they have found success
Questions are welcomed both during and after the presentation. You will walk away with better understanding of how to use Facebook easily and effectively.