Agile Software Methodology for Marketers

If you’ve been working anywhere near the tech world over the past decade, you probably have at least a vague sense of what the term agile software methodology means.

Developed originally as a way to move developers away from clunky, time-consuming waterfall management methods, this technique has jumped the industry divides in recent years, adopted increasingly by HR departments and yes, even marketers, as a way to speed up production and better respond to customer demands and changes in the market.

The agile software methodology was originally developed out of pure necessity. As the consumer demands for better, faster technology increased, so too did the demands on developers. And yet managers looked to highly linear and structured production models as a way of managing risk. The thinking was: the more we can model and plan, the better the outcome will be.

But the marketplace is an ecosystem in a constant state of flux, and these kinds of models lead to product development times that stretched into years, meaning that the product was often irrelevant by the time it reached the market.

agile marketing

In contrast, the agile methodology maximizes use of time and is designed specifically to adapt to change. I asked Michel Ozzello over at OutSystems where rapid application development is key – to break down the agile philosophy for us non-techies. He explained the take away principles as:

  • Reducing cycle times (moving to a spiral, n iterative cycle rather than a linear model, where you donít try to mitigate risk with planning, but instead assess risk is assessed only before and after developmentas you go).
  • Emphasizing individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Agile recognizes that we work better in smaller, manageable chunks with goals we know we can achieve.
  • Shipping working software, even if it hasn’t been developed to perfection or come with comprehensive documentation. If it works, start using it so that you also start getting feedback form users.
  • Collaborating with customers rather than squabbling over contracts. Make the customer part of the team, involve them in all demos and decisions so that they feel they really own the project.
  • Being willing to throw out the plan. In the agile methodology, adapting to changing market conditions is key. We know you’ll never have a perfect plan to begin with, so don’t waste too much time trying to build it.

Sure, things donít move quite as fast for us marketers as they do in tech, but there’s few of us who haven’t fallen into the client-lead trap of attempting to minimize risk through precise and rigid planning.

So how can this concept be applied to marketing? Let me put it in perspective by telling you how my team uses it internally to execute projects.

Our agile method starts with a monthly Sprint Planning meeting to sort through all of the most important projects coming up. During this, we determine which ones most urgently require our focus. Those projects will become the sprint, i.e. the projects on which weíll focus the bulk of our energies. Once we determine the projects to work on, we break up each project into actionable “tasks” that can be organized into a list. This way, as each task is done, it can be crossed off the list.

A backlog of tasks is created that our team must accomplish in order to reach the finish line by the end of the month. Each person is assigned tasks daily, and we work on them independently. However, working solo doesnít mean losing track of one another’s progress.

Every morning there is a ten to fifteen minute standup SCRUM. During the SCRUM one person is the product owner, or the “SCRUM Master” – the person who maintains a backlog of tasks for all of the team members. The rest of the team consists of a diverse group of people, each of whom brings a different functionality to the team. The process takes about 10 – 15 minutes, where each member answers the following questions:

1. What did I do yesterday?
2. What am I going to do today?
3. Are there any roadblocks?

At the end of the month, the team gets together to review all the projects. Before we adopted the agile method, we noticed we weren’t getting everything done we needed to, but at that point in time it was too late. With the agile method, we’re able to visually see which projects need more work – as those are the ones that don’t have enough tasks crossed off the list. This process helps you quickly identify inefficiencies in your team, and holds each member accountable for the tasks he said he’d accomplish the day before.

In sum, the agile method dramatically reduces the amount of time it takes for to deliver and measure results, act on feedback, and is better use time. It’s not “Get Agile or Go Home” but rather Get Agile and Get to Go Home.

About the author: James Daugherty writes about marketing trends, technology, and OutSystems – a company on the leading edge of agile method movement.

Stock photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

4 Email Productivity Apps for Marketing Professionals

Are you a slave to your email inbox? Do you find yourself obsessively checking your email every few minutes? Or has your inbox spiraled out of control – do you feel like you’re drowning and don’t know where to begin to get things back on track?

Fortunately help is at hand – Simply Business have pulled together this infographic detailing solutions to common email productivity problems:

Click the image to launch the interactive version. Move through each of the questions – if you see an issue you can relate to move to the outer circles which contain links to resources and tools to help. Simply click on whatever takes your fancy and it will open in a new tab.


Click image to open interactive version (via Simply Business).

Despite never quite achieving Inbox Zero (normally I’m around Inbox 7, but I’m working on it), I am a massive fan of apps to help manage my email – here are a few I wouldn’t be without:

Rapportive

Struggle to put faces to names? Rapportive is the app for you. It shows you everything about your contacts right there inside your inbox. You can see their picture, where they’re based, what they last tweeted etc. It also makes it really easy to connect with them on other networks like LinkedIn.

Taskforce

This was a total game changer for me. A large proportion of the emails I receive require some sort of action from me, and Taskforce allows you to convert emails into tasks without the need to leave your inbox. Plus you can delegate tasks, and schedule them for later.

AwayFind

Lack the discipline to leave your inbox alone? Worried that you might miss something really urgent? AwayFind notifies you of important messages via your mobile so you’ll never miss an important email again.

Boomerang

Boomerang allows you write emails and schedule them to send later. It also reminds you to follow up or if you don’t hear back from people.

Got some productivity tips of your own to share? Or apps you can’t live without? I’d love to hear about them via the comments!

About the author: James Daugherty enjoys being as productive as he can be while watching cat videos

Stock photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

5 Stock Photo Pitfalls Marketers Should Avoid

Have you ever visited a website that looked like it could have literally been created by a robot, void of human warmth and character? These types of websites are usually boring and dry because they overuse common copy, pictures, and template web designs. While stock photography can be convenient and highly effective in certain situations, here are some pitfalls to avoid:

1. The Handshake

This painfully overused stock photo has been posted throughout the Internet on low quality and spammy websites. While many legitimate businesses use cliché stock photography, the fact is that visitors to your website are going to associate familiar pictures with laziness or a poor product. The picture might show a deal being made, but you might shake a lot less hands if you use this stock photo on your site.

handshake

2. The Meaningless Graph

Everyone knows that up and to the right is the best direction there is in business. Built-over-night marketing and advertising companies love to show stock photo graphs and charts that have absolutely no real meaning since they do not represent anything from the business posting them. If you want to gain client trust and prove to them that you can move that line northeast, then take screenshots of your own graphs and lay off the stock photography.

graph

3. Phone Operator

The most ironic part about the overly happy and enthusiastic operator is not that no call center employee would ever be smiling like that on the job, but that most people dread calling support numbers. The last thing you want to see when you are explaining your so-simple-a-fifth-grader-could-understand-it problem is a smiling face acting like everything is OK. After all, whoever sat still for that picture didn’t just wait on hold for 15 minutes to have the connection lost.

call center gal

4. Diverse Group Photo

Nothing screams “we probably aren’t that diverse” than an unrealistically diverse photograph. If your company is really diverse, then you will have no problem displaying that to potential employees and the media with actual photographs of your diverse team. Not to mention anyone can tell that these pictures do not display the actual members of the team.

diverse team

5. Business People Doing Sports

Did anyone ever even stop to ask why the women are running a race on a track in high heels? The truth is, stock photos of business people doing sports will handicap you against the competition just like running a race with high heels.

business race

Not only do cliché stock photos act as a test for your gag reflex, they also will increase your bounce rate and decrease your conversion rate on your website. Pictures like the hand shake originally were used to build trust and to instill a sense of agreement and negotiation. With the mass production of stock photography and the availability of photos on the internet, pictures like the handshake lost their touch over time. Go with something real and unique to your business instead. Take actual photography or create unique graphics that represent the content on your website.

James Daugherty is a Seattle transplant who enjoys marketing and is a caffeine enthusiast. All images from this article are provided by Shutterstock and Bigstock.

5 Reasons to Use Clicky Analytics

The following article is a guest post by Steve Rendell.

Before I start this blog post, let me just be clear, I am a huge fan of Google Analytics, I think it is a superb tool,but, recently I have been thinking more and more about the idiom “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” and particularly its relevance to my small web portfolio of sites. Until last month, all my sites were linked into Google Webmaster, all my sites were using Google Analytics, and for my information sites I am showing Google AdSense adverts. I also derive a large proportion of my online traffic from yep you guessed it Google.

Now this isn’t a bad thing as such, but diversification is very important, and I wanted to make steps to begin breaking that reliance on Google, so decided to test out other website analytics package. After some extensive testing, I settled on a product called Clicky Analytics – which actually offers web site owners, like you and me, an even fuller suite of functions than the one provided by Google. It does cost a small fee, but for the amount of functionality you get, it’s a no brainer. Google Analytics is free but it is also a way for Google to buy massive amounts of web traffic data in exchange for some pretty charts.

Here are my top five reasons why I think you’ll be happier using Clicky Analytics instead of Google Analytics.

Spy on your visitors
Now this sounds a bit creepy but it isn’t. What it is is a realtime feed of visitor interactions on your site. You can see how they found your site, what page they are on, what other pages they have visited
as well as the ability to chat with that visitor directly (if you have oLark enabled). This is super useful for helping convert visitors into buyers, or just for on the fly market research.

Fully featured mobile version
Not only does Clicky offer a fully featured generic mobile interface to their site (as well as a iPhone specific interface), they also offer a slick and clever iPhone/iPad native application for monitoring
your websites. It is really smart to be able to check your statistics out on the go, as well as the ability to receive notifications when your visitor count exceeds a specific number.

Improved Bounce Rate Metric
One thing I found frustrating with GA is way that the bounce rate is calculated. If someone comes to your site, and leaves from the same page that is considered a ‘bounce’. A high bounce rate means in
Googles eyes that your site is of lower quality, and it may lower your ranking in the SERPS. Clicky Analytics defines a bounce to be one page view and the visitor stays less than 30 seconds on your site. I like their explanation and also tend to agree with them, that this is a much better way to measure visitor bounce.

No Traceable Footprint
When you install Google Analytics on your website, it will include your GA UA code. This is a unique identifier that can be used by other people to easily see all the websites that you own and have installed Analytics on. If you like to you can do a reverse search on sites such as eWhois for free. When you use Clicky Analytics there is no common ID used across your accounts, so you can gain some comfort from the fact that each site is isolated
from the others.

Better Interface and UX
I love the look of the new Google Analytics, but hate the navigation. Every step seems to take multiple clicks to accomplish; it is thoroughly frustrating using it. Clicky Analytics on the other hand is a simple, very well laid out interface with all the information that I require displayed immediately as I visit my dashboard (obviously configurable), and with the ability to dig down into my data also within a click or two, it is a pleasure to use compared to the convoluted new interface from GA.

This blog post was written by Steve Rendell who runs Paper Free Billing, providers of simple and effective invoice software for small businesses.

The 5 Most Valuable Books in My Marketing Career

When I was still a little girl, one of the things I would get every year for Christmas was a pile of books as high as I was. I was a picky eater, so my parents, in their vast interest to get me to eat properly, would tell me to “clean my plate” so I would grow, and get more books.

I’m still an avid reader but my attitude towards eating has changed! Fortunately I’ve been able to pursue my love of reading even more readily, facilitated by the advent of the ebook reader. I am hearing more and more complaints though about the lack of thought provoking business books, something I have found as well. So, in an attempt to provide some help to the people out there looking for a solid book, here are the 5 books that shaped me most in my career.

1. Freakonomics, A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner.

This book encourages you to look beyond common wisdom and academics, to ask, with an open mind, the right questions to uncover life’s mysteries. It helped me think outside of the box, challenging evergreen truths, and combining data analysis with input from people.

2. Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul, by Howard Schultz.

In 2008, Howard Schultz decided to “pull a Steve Jobs”, returning as CEO of Starbucks after 8 years of absence. His goal was to help the company return to it’s core values. He ended up achieving profitability during one of the worst economical crises in history. I was the GM of a business servicing the financial industry in those days, and the book showed me that I wasn’t the only one with all my doubts and my fears. It also showed me that it was possible to navigate the recession, preserve and grow the business, while still maintaining my human values.

3. Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs, by Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah.

Marketing has gone through tremendous change over the last 3 to 5 years, driven by the arrival and use of new technologies by consumers. This is a solid book for anyone trying to make sense of internet marketing, and the onslaught of technology.

4. Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business, by Ann Handley and CC Chapman.

This book, combined with the previous one, shaped my understanding on how online marketing helps you get found, and content marketing determines what happens once you are found. Online and Content Marketing go hand in hand, and you really can’t design a marketing strategy without addressing at least these two components.

5. Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson.

A lot has been said about Steve Jobs, most of it coming down to how genius he was, but impossible to work for. My big epiphany reading this book was that although dysfunctional behavior is not OK for a leader, he was consistently dysfunctional, thus providing a stable environment for his people to work and thrive within. My big lesson was that if you are consistent in your behavior as a leader, no matter how bad it is, your people can rise to the occasion. If you are inconsistent and unpredictable,processes and people will start breaking down

Katleen Richardson is the President of Marketing AdvantEdge Katleen Richardson and is an experienced leader who builds integrated strategies combining research, data analysis and creative thinking. She has delivered successful solutions for the publishing, financial and telecommunications industries, as well as for conference and training companies, and professional associations. Her approach is to design customer focused, cost-effective solutions based on cross functional collaboration and results-based metrics.

5 Qualities of Highly Effective Marketers

The following article is a guest article by Rachel Hyun Kim.

Have you ever considered a career in marketing? For people-oriented, outgoing individuals, marketing may appear like a natural career choice. However, this field requires more than a can-do attitude and an affinity for social media; marketers often share certain personality traits that help them succeed and spread their brand.

In order to be successful in marketing, the candidate must possess the right attitude and mentality to help them address the challenges ahead. The following traits may indicate you have a marketer’s soul, waiting to come out:

1. Passion for Communication

One key characteristic of marketers is the passion for communication, or the love of spreading the word. Oftentimes, people confuse marketers with the sleazy individuals that rely on telemarketing to promote their products. However, a true marketer is not looking to make a quick buck; he or she is truly passionate about their product, service, or company, and this enthusiasm transfers to their communication methods.

2. Numbers Oriented

One common misconception of marketers is that they simply connect to others through social media and talk to community members. However, marketing departments often require that their employees have numbers to back up their results. Therefore, marketers often have an affinity for numbers, and are not afraid to handle large sets of data. With an analytical mindset, marketers enjoy problem solving and are persistent at solving problems.

3. Early Adopter

The early adopter is constantly at the forefront of new technologies, signing up for beta releases or trying out new social media platforms before anyone else. This is an essential trait for marketers, who are always on the lookout for new ways to connect to their audience. The internet is constantly shifting and producing new communication channels; by trying them out, marketers can determine which best benefits their organization.

4. Love of Social Media

Nowadays, most companies understand the importance of social media, and often integrate this into their marketing departments. In order to succeed as a marketer, it is necessary that the individual possess knowledge of social media networks and platforms. However, this requires more than understanding how to create an account; social media marketers delve deep into the dynamics of the community that are created within a social media network. They integrate themselves within the community, and seek to understand how individuals interact. With this knowledge and the accompanying love of social media, marketers are able to better place their brand amongst community members.

5. Focused on Achieving Goals

This may seem like a common trait, but marketers especially benefit from this particular personality trait. Marketing oriented individuals create goals, and spend the majority of their time and energy striving for them. However, it is important to distinguish the type of goals that marketers focus on: in general, individuals focus on measurable, achievable goals, related to obtaining leads and increasing brand awareness. Therefore, individuals who are looking for a career in marketing should make sure that they’re dedicated and passionate towards accomplishments.

Rachel Hyun Kim is a writer for Resource Nation, an online resource that gives advice on B2B lead generation to small businesses and entrepreneurs.

5 Useful Tools for Managing Email Marketing

Email is, without a doubt, the fastest, easiest, most cost-effective way to reach your customers. Deciding to use email for your marketing efforts is the easy part. But the next decision becomes a little more challenging: How do you manage your email marketing efforts? Before you decide what’s best for you, you’ll need to take a few things into consideration:

1. How big will your mailing list be? And maybe a more important question is: How much do you expect it to grow over the next one or two years? You’ll want to choose a management tool that will be appropriate for the size of your list.

2. How many design options do you want to have? At the beginning, plain text emails may be all you’re interested in sending. But it’s hard to grab your customers’ attention with plain text. Chances are you’ll want to produce fancier emails at some point in the future.

3. How often will you send out emails? How frequently you send out your emails can have an impact on the price you’ll pay for a management tool.

4. What “extras” are you looking for in your management package? You may want to track how many people open your emails or conduct surveys from time to time. Or you may want to integrate your marketing emails with social media.

Once you take all this into consideration, you’ll be ready to decide on a management tool. Although there are countless packages available, the five listed here provide a variety of features at different price levels (even free!).

iContact
Whether you’re an email marketing expert or a newbie, the iContact email marketing service has something for everyone. The service includes an easy-to-use interface, reporting and tracking capabilities, social media integration, 500 design templates to choose from and a Spam checker. iContact provides a lot of help along the way, including a marketing guide that helps you make the most of your email campaigns, a tutorial and live help over the phone. Prices vary from $14 per month (for a mailing list of 500) to $239 a month (for a mailing list of 35,000).

Constant Contact
This service would work no matter what your size business or knowledge level. Constant Contact is simple to use and offers 400 design templates. It features social media integration, a WordPress plug-in and reporting capability. Surveys are available at an additional cost. Customer support includes live chat, tutorials, forums, blogs and a user manual. Prices range from $15 a month (for a maximum of 500 addresses) to $150 a month (from 10,001 to 25,000 addresses). If your mailing list is over 25,000, you’ll need to contact them for a price estimate. Constant Content also offers a discount for nonprofits.

Benchmark Email
This user-friendly service offers features for every size company and skill level. Capabilities include reporting features, social media integrations and a Spam checker. You can import your own design or use one of their templates. Benchmark also gives you the capability to import contact lists from spreadsheet programs or text files. If you don’t have the time to set up your own email campaigns, they’ll do it for you—up to two per month. Benchmark support includes tutorials, FAQs, a glossary, blogs, user manuals and 24-hour help. They offer three payment options—Budget, Professional or Enterprise—and a discount for nonprofits. Prices range from $9.95 per month to send 600 emails to $375 per month to send 100,000.

Mail Chimp
The Mail Chimp service provides what are possibly the most impressive help features available, including live webinars, a forum and live chat. The service is easy to use and offers social media integration AND the ability to track social media activity. The Mail Chimp “Delivery Doctor” scans your emails for Spam flags prior to mailing. It also offers a preview of what your email will look like for different email clients (Yahoo Mail or Outlook, for example). Mail Chimp also has a free service available with a maximum of 2,000 subscribers and a 12,000 per month send limit. Prices for other packages (for monthly plans) begin at $10 a month for an unlimited number of sends and up to 500 subscribers, up to $240 a month for unlimited sends and 25,001 to 50,000 subscribers.

Pinpointe
Designed for larger companies looking for a B2B email management solution, Pinpointe offers many of the features that other services provide, but on a bigger scale. Features include a customized “From” field that allows the email to come from any individual in the company, survey capabilities, email preview function, Spam checker, reporting capabilities and multiple formats and templates to choose from. Support services include FAQs, user manuals, a blog, webinars and tutorials. Pinpointe is designed to manage bulk emailing campaigns, and the lowest-priced package available begins with 5,000 contacts. Price varies from $42 a month for sending 5,000 emails to $1,799 a month for sending over 1 million.

Pam Drayton is a content writer for EmailFinder.com, a leading email search website.

How to Market Your Business on Google Plus

The following is a guest article by Sharon Shapiro.

Social media is an essential marketing tool for any business these days, and as of recently a new Google-powered social network has entered the scene.

Google+, which recently became available to Google Apps users, allows businesses to create pages. Through this social network, your business can easily promote itself, share content with others, and track your social media progress. The ability to improve your communication and collaboration with customers sets Google+ apart as the premier social network for businesses.

There are a number of easy ways to promote your business, and have others do some promotion too, on Google+. The first of these promotional tools involves notifying visitors to your company website of your presence on Google+. You can accomplish this with one of two tools: the Google+ badge or Google+ icon. With the Google+ badge, people can add your business’ Google+ page to their circles without having to leave your website. On the other hand, when people click on the Google+ icon they will be taken directly to your Google+ page. And for those who are already aware of your presence on Google+, the new direct connect tool on Google makes finding your business’ page simple. Beyond these self promotional tools, Google+ has features in place that help customers do some marketing for you, as well. This mainly comes into play when people +1 your business. Now, you can connect all of the +1s your business receives for its Google+ page, website, and advertisements. This connection is an important promotional tool because when people do a Google search for your business they will be able to see all of your +1s, including exactly who and how many people have +1’d your business. This +1 presence is a great word-of-mouth promotional tool because it allows potential customers to see the number and type of people who support your business. Thus, the +1 visual serves as a recommendation for your business to potential customers.

Once you bring people into your business’ Google+ page, it’s important to keep them there. You can accomplish this through sharing with the stream, circles, and hangouts. The stream on Google+ enables your business to share a variety of content with your followers. This content, which can be videos, text, or photos, can be shared publicly or with designated circles. Circles is a feature that is unique to the Google+ social network. With circles, your business can group people into specific categories. Such grouping can be useful when you have a message you don’t want to share with everyone, but rather with only a certain demographic or type of customer. Examples of how businesses can use the circles tool is to group customers by location or by the products or services they have previously purchased. Yet another sharing tool on Google+ is hangouts. This feature will not only help your business communicate with others, but also improve on your collaboration capabilities. With hangouts, your business can hold a video chat with multiple people on Google+, share screens, and collaborate in real-time with Google Docs. This tool allows you to communicate with people remotely but gives the feeling as though you are all in the same room.

Another important part of marketing your business through a social media platform is tracking your progress. When your business has a Google+ page, this tracking can be done through ripples and analytics. Ripples is a tool that allows you to follow the progress of the information your business shares on Google+. Specifically, you can track where it is going and the impact it is making by viewing who is sharing this content and who is paying attention. This tool is useful in deciding how to best market your business through Google+. By keeping track of information on ripples, you can discern the best type of information to share with customers and with whom to share it to improve your business’ reach on the social network. In addition to ripples, your business can use analytics to keep track of the activity on your Google+ page and the +1s for your business.

The wide variety of promotional tools and sharing features, along with the ease of tracking the progress of your efforts, makes Google+ a key social media platform for any business looking to market itself on a social network.

This blog post was written by Sharon Shapiro from Cloud Sherpas. Cloud Sherpas is a leading Google Apps cloud service provider. As a Google Apps Authorized Reseller and Google Enterprise partner, we have migrated over one million users across all major industries from legacy, on-premise messaging systems to Google Apps, helping organizations adopt cloud computing to innovate and dramatically reduce their IT expenses. Get to know our company by checking out our Google+ page at cloudsherpas.com/plus.

Image by ChethStudios

Social Media Marketing Rules of Anonymity

The following guest article is by Maranda Gibson.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in stop and go traffic on a busy street. At a red light I could hear a horn blaring behind me and after glancing in the rearview mirror, I realized it was the guy behind me. I couldn’t hear a word he was saying but the combination of the horn, his mouth moving quickly, and the interesting gestures he was throwing up, I imagined he was upset about the pace of traffic. I ignored it – really, what was I going to do? I couldn’t drive over the top of the five cars in front of me. The light turned green, I put on my signal to make a turn up ahead, and this angry man flew around me. He slammed on his horn a few times and I saw the one fingered salute he gave me. I was shocked – and when he floored it in the other lane, I saw the white markings on the back of his window.

Steve’s Law Firm.

And it had a phone number. I considered calling the number and leaving him a voicemail that his angry gestures and horn honks wouldn’t quite get across. Instead, I didn’t – instead, I just laughed to myself and realized that if he acts like this while he drives, he’ll be out of business soon enough.

Why?

social media anonymityBecause he forgot in the hustle and bustle of getting to his next meeting that he was driving around in his marketing machine.

One thing I think we forget is that we carry our brand around with us everywhere we go, whether we realize it or not. It’s easy to think that once we walk out of the office, we aren’t attached to our business anymore.

For the social media marketer this is never true. In some way, shape, or form our name is connected to our business whether we are at the office or not. When I first started Tweeting for AccuConference, running a Google search on my name would pull up MySpace, my personal Facebook, and even this ancient article where I was quoted in my college paper.

Three years later and when you Google my name, it’s all business. There’s my picture, my LinkedIn profile, and my company blog. Imagine if I wandered around the Internet acting like a jerk under my name. A simple search would connect me to my company and render my company a jerk as well. Here are some things you can do to at least help ease yourself back and forth.

  • Privatize your personal Twitter / Facebook account.
  • For public accounts – never say anything you wouldn’t want your mom to read.
  • Keep private jokes private. We all have them, but it you want to make a friend chuckle, send it DM or private message.
  • Run at least one search a month on your name to see what your results are. If things look positive, you’re doing a great job, if not, you may want to see what you’re doing wrong.
  • Finally – don’t be a troll. It is easy to hide behind your shield online, but with your name out there, things are bound to somehow loop back around to you and your company. If you have an opinion, that’s great, but share it in a responsible and mature way.

I tend to be very careful what I say or do because I never know if a client might run a search to find out more about me or my company. Being a social media marketer means that my name and company is always on the windshield and I always have to remember that – do you?

Maranda Gibson lives in Arlington, Texas and began blogging for AccuConference three years ago. Maranda writes about public speaking and making great presentations and you can check out her tips on the AccuConference blog. She can also be spotted on Twitter sharing her musical tastes and expressing her love for baseball and cooking.

Photo by Johan Larsson

The Advantages of Social Media Versus Traditional Media

The following article is a guest post by Christian Arno.

iphoneMore and more companies are using social media to promote their business and connect with customers – it is now an essential part of the marketing mix for most businesses.

Social media platforms, such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, forums and more, have a number of advantages for companies, and are fast overtaking traditional media formats such as print and TV ads, brochures, flyers and email campaigns. Here’s why…

Low cost

Traditional media can be extremely expensive, especially for small businesses. However, most social media is completely free to use and the only cost to businesses is the time staff need to spend updating profiles and interacting with customers and contacts.

Businesses can use social media to create and distribute articles, videos, audio and more for a fraction of what it would cost for this content to appear in traditional media.

Access for all

In many ways, social media levels the playing field for businesses, as it is accessible to anyone, regardless of the size of their company, its turnover, or their contacts. Social media tools can be accessed by anyone, whereas access to traditional media can require a lot of money and a good network of media industry contacts.

Simplicity

Traditional media production can require a high level of skill, training and specialist equipment. However, social media channels are extremely simple to use, even for people with basic IT experience, and only a computer and internet connection are required.

Global reach

It’s true that traditional media can reach a global audience too, but this is extremely costly in most cases. Through social media, businesses can instantly reach a global audience as easily as they can reach customers based locally. It’s easy to tailor your content for each market segment, too.

If you happen to hit the jackpot and produce a piece of content that does go viral, as well, there’s no limit to the amount of people you can reach at no extra cost – the trick is in hitting that sweet spot that makes content eminently shareable.

Get to know your customers

Social media offers unprecedented opportunities to build relationships with your customers, largely due to its real-time and participatory nature. Companies can source feedback, test ideas and manage customer services quickly and directly, in a way that they can’t with traditional media.

Traditional media marketing is one-way, but with social media customers can choose the messages they receive and seek out. The proximity that social media offers between businesses and their customers also offers opportunities to really communicate, rather than simply push out sales messages.

Flexibility

With social media, companies can be extremely flexible and adapt instantly. Information can be updated, altered, added to and commented upon in a way that’s impossible in a printed advertisement or article, or a TV or radio ad. Since information can be published in seconds, you can ensure it’s always current and up to date.

Measurable

Feedback with social media is immediate, whereas traditional media often needs to be monitored and evaluated over a long period of time. With social media, businesses can experiment and test marketing messages and approaches, gauge user feedback and tweak the messages accordingly.

There are an ever-growing number of easy-to-use social media measurement tools, many of which are free and provide fascinating and valuable insights for businesses.

Although many businesses are getting on board with social media, others are still wary of it and reluctant to make a break away from traditional media. However, with its low cost, immediacy and interactivity, can your company really afford to ignore social media?

If you’re intimidated by the world of social media, you can dip your toe in slowly. Get online, listen, get a feel for the different platforms, and start experimenting with content and interaction. You’ll soon see how much more social media can offer than traditional media.

Christian Arno is the founder of professional translation services provider Lingo24, experts in the foreign language internet. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over 150 employees spanning three continents and clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated over forty million words for businesses in every industry sector, including the likes of MTV and World Bank. Follow Lingo24 on Twitter: @Lingo24.

Image source: William Hook