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Google+ Makes Improvements to Pages

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Back at the beginning of November, Google announced they were opening up Google+ Pages, where brands and companies could connect with customers.

Since the launch, Google+ has been listening to feedback from its users and have made some changes.

Here are the Google+ Pages changes as highlighted on their official blog and in a video clip below:

  • You can now delegate up to 50 named managers as administrators for a page.
  • A new notification flow will ensure that these managers stay in the loop on all the activity that takes place on a page, giving managers the ability to stay involved in page conversations.
  • We’ll now show an aggregated count of users that have engaged with your page, either by +1’ing it or by adding it to a circle. This way, both you and your page’s visitors can get an at-a-glance summary of who is interacting with your page.

Google+ Update Improvements to Pages Video

Other improvements Google+ has made include:

  • Google+ Photos experience
  • Pump up (or down) the volume!
  • More useful and attractive notifications

Have you made a Google+ Page for your business yet?

Do You Pinterest? These Companies Do and It’s Paying Off

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I’m sure by now you’ve heard of Pinterest and if you haven’t, feel free to head on over there. I’ll see you back here in a few days when you’ve pried yourself away to eat something, feed the pets and take a shower.

Pinterest is a virtual bulletin board, a pin board, of all your favorite ideas and finds. When I first heard about it, I thought it was just for finding home decorating ideas, recipes and cool outfits. I was wrong.

I tried to stay away from Pinterest as long as I could, because come on, do I really need another excuse to keep me tied to my computer and smart phone. I’ll answer that. No. No I don’t.

It wasn’t until my nephew, who is in college, stayed with us for a few days during Thanksgiving. He kept talking about Pinterest. My teenage son and daughter then decided to create an account and all I was hearing was laughter and “Did you see my board and what I just found?!”

Needless to say they were having a good time, and being one who doesn’t like to be left out, I joined Pinterest and have been addicted ever since. (Thank you Caleb.)

Pinterest is definitely not just for those who want to find yet another creative place to hang garland in their house for the holidays, or a new cookie recipe that will make all the moms at your son’s elementary school Christmas party green with envy. It’s for anyone – male, female, young and old.

You know who else has taken a liking to Pinterest? Companies. I was reading this article on Adage about how Pinterest is driving more traffic for some companies than Facebook.

Here are a few companies mentioned in the article who are using Pinterest to drive both traffic and sales:

You can visit their pages and read the Adage article to see how they’re using Pinterest. One thing you’ll find, is they are still all in the learning phase.

Land’s End actually created a contest titled “Pin It To Win It” which kicked off December 14th. You can find out how to enter on the Land’s End Facebook Page. Here’s a snippet from the page:

We’re excited to kick-off a Holiday Pin it to Win it contest, our first-ever challenge on Pinterest. Simply create a virtual pin board featuring your favorite Lands’ End Canvas products for a chance to win one of ten $250 Lands’ End Canvas Gift Cards. Contest ends 12/21/11 at 11:59pm CT. Winners will be judged based on creativity, composition & style expertise.

Clever don’t you think? It will definitely be fun to watch Pinterest grow, as well as how different companies use Pinterest to their advantage.

Do you Pinterest?

Google+ Adds a Seamless Way to Hangout

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Google+ announced a few new features to their Hangouts today in hopes to bring friends and family closer during the holidays. They make saying hello to your loved ones face-to-face easy and best of all – free.

One new improvement is the ability to start a Google+ Hangout video chat from a status update.

As they show in the photo above, all you have to do is click “Hangout” underneath a status update and they’ll add your invitation in the comments.

Vic Gundotra, Senior Vice President of Google+, gives an example of when this feature might be useful. He says,”Suppose your sister gets engaged, or your roommate lands a job, or your favorite singer shares their concert schedule. You can obviously write comments back and forth, but it’s moments like these when you really want to connect in person.”

Google+ has also brought Hangouts to Google+ Messenger on mobile devices. Just tap the new hangout icon (a video camera) and it will go instantly from text to video.

You can expect to see this new app within the coming days.

You can see all of the other improvements Google+ made to Hangouts on their post here, which includes integration with YouTube and more.

Can you see yourself using Google+ Hangouts more with these new improvements?

10 Best Viral Videos For 2011

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It’s that time of the year again where we take a look back at the Best Viral Videos for 2011. From a cat meme and a cat lady to Justin Bieber and one nasty badger, these are some of the best ones for 2011. If you have a favorite I left off, feel free to leave a link to the video in the comments below.

1. Justin BieberUnder the Mistletoe

Some of you might be cringing because I started off with this one, but let’s face it, the kid can bring in the numbers. With currently 68 million views, Justin Bieber’s Under the Mistletoe music video won over the hearts of his fans worldwide. When the public heard he was coming out with a Christmas album, some predicted it would fail. Oh how they were wrong. So very wrong.

2. Jack Sparrow (feat. Michael Bolton) – Saturday Night Live

What’s one of the best ways as a celebrity to make a video with you in it go viral? Make fun of yourself. It works *almost* every time. Michael Bolton was a guest on Saturday Night Live and spoofed several movies – mainly Pirates of the Caribbean. Does this make Michael Bolton relevant again?

3. Nyan Cat

What do you get when you take a cat’s head, put it on a pop tart for a body and make it fly through the air leaving a rainbow trail? Apparently an instant viral video hit. Just the video itself has over 52 million views and when you count in all of the parodies, this is one crazy successful meme.

4. eHarmony Video Bio – The Woman Who Just Loves Cats

Yes, it’s another viral video that involves a cat. I am fairly certain cats will take over the world someday. Or, at least the internet. I posted about this video back in July. It was the most popular video about cats, that didn’t contain any cats. This video reached 2 million views in just one day and now it’s over 18 million. We all found out later this video was indeed a joke and a funny one at that.

5. Rebecca Black‘s My Moment Music Video

I’m sorry to do this to you. I really am. But we can’t talk about viral videos and not mention Rebecca Black. Well, actually, I could – but I’m not going to. Love her or hate her, Rebecca Black became an instant YouTube sensation. In March of this year, her “Friday” video had over 10 million views in just one week. It has since been taken down for copyright issues. Rebecca recorded another video called “My Moment” and it’s received over 30 million views so far. Why? That still seems to be an unsolved mystery.

6. Volkswagen – The Force: Volkswagen Commercial

Watching this Volkswagen commercial never gets old for me. I am sure I’ve raked in at least 50 of those 45 million plus views it has received. This originally aired as a commercial in February during the Super Bowl. I watched all of the Super Bowl commercials and this one was by far my favorite.

7. The Crazy Nastya** Honey Badger

This one just grosses me out. It’s funny, but I have to watch it with one eye open. It’s the narration that gets me and makes me laugh! This badger is on an eating rampage. He eats snakes and a bird and more snakes…What do I learn from this video? Do not EVER mess with a badger.

8. Webcam 101 for Seniors

This is one of the best viral videos of all time. Bruce and Esther Huffman from McMinnville, OR – AKA – “The Happy Huffmans”, were trying really hard to get their webcam to work. What they ended up with was one heck of a funny video. These two are definitely in love and seem like they have a great time together. They have uploaded a blooper reel, as well as more videos on their YouTube channel. I now know who I want to be when I grow up.

9. Golden Voice, Homeless Man Find a Job After YouTube Success

Have you heard the inspirational story of a man named Ted Williams? He’s the homeless man who was discovered for his amazing voice. A local Columbus, Ohio reporter found him on the street corner begging for money. Williams had been living in a tent, as well as served time in prison. Needless to say, he had led one rough life. He now has a job and is turning his life around.

10. Rick Perry – Strong

I hesitated to mention this video because I don’t want this to get political in any way, shape or form. But, I just couldn’t leave this one out. It was uploaded on December 6th and has over 6 million views. I’m not sure if the views are from mostly Perry supporters, or from the fact this video has been parodied and remixed like crazy.

So there you have it. Some of the Best Viral Videos for 2011. Which one was your favorite or least favorite? Like I said at the beginning, if I left any out you felt deserved to be mentioned, link to them in the comments below and I’ll add them as an honorable mention.

I can’t wait to see what 2012 has in store when it comes to viral videos. What will 2012 be the year of?

New Lightbox App Feature – Your Photo Journal

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The social photo app for Android, Lightbox, unveiled a new app today with a new feature – The Photo Journal – which allows others to follow your updates, as well as like, comment and share. The fantastic thing about this new photo journal is it requires no extra work on your part. Just update the app and you’re good to go.

The previous URL Lightbox users were given has now been turned into their very own photo blog, where the photos are automatically organized. Here’s a description of The Photo Journal from the Lightbox app page:

YOUR PHOTO JOURNAL:Lightbox is a place to capture, enhance, and share your moments. Photos you post are automatically organized into a timeline of postcards on Lightbox.com. Keep them private or selectively share them with friends, family, or the entire Lightbox community.

MANAGE YOUR PHOTOS ONLINE:
All the photos you take with the Lightbox app are automatically uploaded to Lightbox.com for safe storage. So if you lose your phone, you won’t lose your memories.

As you can see in the screenshots of the app above, each user is given a follow button. When you hover over their photo, you’re given the opportunity to “like” that particular photo. And just like the blogs we are all familiar with, you can comment, Tweet, Facebook or add to Google+ each individual photo page.

The Lightbox app update was already added to the Android market this morning.

So Android users, what do you think of the new photo journal feature to Lightbox?

Increasing Email Subscriber Engagement on Top of Marketers’ Minds for 2012

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As 2011 is coming to a close and we are inching closer and closer to 2012 (I know…I can’t believe it either), it’s time to take a step back and look at your blogs. Ask yourself some questions like what did you do right, what did you do wrong and what would you like to focus more on in 2012.

Building up your email subscriber list might be one New Year’s resolution for you to consider for your business. Allison gave us some fantastic insights and ideas on how she helped increase her client’s mailing list. In fact, she helped triple it in less than 10 minutes.

According to a study done by StrongMail in conjunction with Zoomerang, marketers plan on spending more money and time on their email subscriber list. They want to increase both the number of subscribers, as well as the engagement factor.

When marketers were asked to “Please indicate the programs for which you plan to increase spend”, email marketing won out with 60%. Social media wasn’t far behind with 55%.

When asked what their most important email marketing initiatives were for 2012, subscriber engagement came out on top with 48% and growing opt-in email lists came in with 32%.

Are you a firm believer in building an email subscriber list? If so, how have you used this list for the benefit and growth of your business?

 

 

5 Major Twitter Changes Coming to a Computer Screen Near You

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Twitter is getting a major face lift and will be rolling out the new look over the coming weeks. They highlighted 5 of the most significant changes on fly.twitter.com.

It wasn’t that long ago Twitter incorporated some changes such as the Activity tab. Just when you thought they were done, they roll out something so incredibly different it makes you stop to take a look.

Here’s a breakdown of the major changes:

Home – Home is where you view Tweets from the people you have chosen to follow. It’s your personal collection of Tweets, featuring the latest news, commentary and information from the sources you care about.

Connect – The new Connect section is where you get in on the conversation.

Discover – Discover lets you tap into a stream of useful and entertaining information, customized just for you.

Me – The new profile section puts you and your interests front and center.

Tweet – Click on the new Tweet button and instantly send your message out to the world.

Here’s a look at the redesign.

If you would like to see these changes up close and personal immediately, Twitter has already updated mobile.twitter.com, Twitter for iPhone, and Twitter for Android.

If you think this is Twitter’s last update or announcement for awhile, think again.

On the official Twitter blog, at the end of the new design announcement, they said “What we’re announcing today is just the beginning. We now have a framework in place that we will quickly build and iterate upon to help users connect with whatever is meaningful to them.”

Check out this video Twitter put together which walks you through the changes.

Thoughts?

New Microblogging Service Hycku: What’s Up (in 7 words)

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There’s a new microblogging service in town and for those of you who love your Haikus, this is for you. It’s called Hycku and it asked you “What’s Up? (in 7 words)”.

Hycku might sound a little similar to Twitter, with its 255 character limit, but it’s the 7 word limit that sets it apart. It’s all about the poetic form of the Haiku.

As for the current features, you can upload your profile picture, simultaneously post to your Facebook and Twitter accounts and add an image (as you can see in the photo above) to your update. If you want to add a link, it counts towards your 7 word limit.

Here are a few of the most current updates on Hycku.

I can hycku. Can you? Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!! #Winning!

And do we RT or RH? #retweet

Trying this out. Kind of nervous. Pie.

There’s also a lot of talk about if the chicken came before the egg. Yep, people are really trying to get the hang out this Hycku business.

What do you think – Will you Haiku on Hycku?

Oregon Blogger’s Fate Could Impact Bloggers Everywhere, Sued for $2.5 Million

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Crystal L. Cox

It’s been up for discussion on many occasions, whether a blogger can, and should be, considered a journalist. Many times, bloggers post opinion pieces with information and “facts” they gathered from different places, and never really think twice about it.

After you read this story about an Oregon blogger who lost her case in court and is being sued for $2.5 million, it might cause you to think a little more about what you post on your blog. Or, this story just might make you angry that this judge drew a clear line between journalists and bloggers.

Crystal L. Cox, an Oregon based blogger, writes several law-centric blogs. She wrote posts on the Obsidian Finance Group firm, and its co-founder Kevin Padrick, stating the company and Padrick were guilty of bankruptcy fraud. They eventually took her to court and won.

The judge ruled in favor of the firm, saying this single post was grounds for defamation because it stated her opinion as factual. Cox claims she received the information from a very reliable inside source, who she was not willing to give up, and therefore is protected by Oregon’s shield law. The judge said, “not so fast” and offered up his opinion on the difference between a “journalist” and a “blogger”.

Here is U.S. District Judge Marco A. Hernandez’s statement obtained from Seattle Weekly:

. . . although defendant is a self-proclaimed “investigative blogger” and defines herself as “media,” the record fails to show that she is affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system. Thus, she is not entitled to the protections of the law

Cox told Seattle Weekly this ruling could impact bloggers everywhere.

I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on this story. Here are some questions up for discussion:

  • Should Cox be protected by the Oregon Shield law since she claims she received her information from an inside source?
  • Do you agree with the judge’s ruling on the difference between a blogger and journalist and the fact that Cox isn’t affiliated with any media companies?
  • Do you think bloggers need to be more careful in regards to what they post?
  • Do you believe this single case will impact bloggers and anyone who writes on the internet?

Image Source: http://www.crystalcox.com/

Blogs Used More By B2B for Content Marketing Purposes in 2011

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A recent study by MarketingProfs titled “B2B Content Marketing: 2012 Benchmarks, Budgets & Trends” shows blogs are on the rise as a viable source for content marketing purposes.

In 2010, only 51% of B2B surveyed said they used blogs for this purpose. It rose 27% to 65% in 2011. Using blogs as a content marketing tactic comes in behind articles (79%) and social media (74%).

Sources which fell in usage, include print magazines and print newsletters.

As far as social media goes, Twitter is the number one way B2Bs choose to distribute content at 74%. This is a 35% rise from last year’s 55%. The next most popular way to distribute content was LinkedIn at 71%, followed by Facebook at 70%.

Another interesting tidbit of information that came out of the study, is although B2B use social media as a tactic for content marketing, only about half of the respondents think it’s effective.

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