September 2, 2014

The Power of Words – The Fall of News of the World

As I’ve noted in prior posts – contrary to the popular belief the core of the Internet is not images, but words. Twitter and Facebook thrive on the words of the populace and with the news of the demise of the 168-year-old News of the World. Social Media is being proclaimed as the victor in bringing the alleged illegal action of the newspaper to the attention of the world. Now that the consumer is an instant author, even a historic bastion of journalism is susceptible to being brought down by the words of the masses. According to Gerry McGovern, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler and others through history understood the power of words and appropriately as technology has evolved so has the way words get to the masses.

Today it’s a 140 characters at a time, but as the Muslim Spring and other tragedies have shown us the words of the public spread information and news quite effectively. The pressure to get the story in this digital age seems t have caused the News of the World to do anything to get the story, but in the end the public has the last word.

Until next time, Tim

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Remember Qantas Has Never Crashed – Except when Implementing Social Media

After hearing about the Qantas near disaster in Indonesia, a friend forwarded me an article on how Qantas was a bit behind the 8-ball when it came to getting in front of such a story from a PR perspective. As the article points out and I’ve mentioned in this blog before using social media means more than just pushing promotional messages out to your audiences but also using these tools to inform them of breaking news. Use Twitter and Facebook and any other media to push them to your official website, that you’ve set up prior to a crisis, for official information and news as you know it. The passengers of the flight were recording video and tweeting photos of the emergency landing as the media and Qantas scrambled to get word out that the flight didn’t crash and what exactly happened. Even small companies can learn something from these global companies. Social Media not only gives you the tools to get your message out, it also gives all your customers the same power to get the message about about your company. The world is flat when it comes to social media.

Even Wikipedia reported the incident as “On 4 November 2010 Qantas Flight 32, an Airbus A380 “Nancy-Bird Walton” VH-OQA suffered a serious failure of its left inboard engine. The flight landed safely, and all 433 passengers and 26 crew on board are safe. Cowling parts of the failed engine fell over Batam island.”

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RavenWood Creative Published in the Library of Congress

Yes, with the acquisition of the Twitter archives by The Library of Congress, where every public tweet ever “SENT” is now archived with the Library, everyone who uses Twitter publicly is now published in the Library of Congress’ vast archives. So such great tweets from @TimErnst and @RavenWoodCreate as the following:

@TimErnst Lots of little projects filling my day, today. But’s it’s these types of days that keep me busy and projects moving. Bouncing 1 to another.

Or my personal favorite, my first tweet: @TimErnst blogging and surfing the web

Or @RavenWoodCreate Just completed the 2009 State of the Market Report for a client, just under 700 pages of Adobe InDesign Layout and… http://bit.ly/djE9Jj

… are all now a part of American history.

As you can see its stunning insights into the human condition that I’m contributing on Twitter. But it is interesting and historic that the LoC has deemed this relatively new form of communication (started in 2006) worthy of archiving. Our President used it to thank supporters when he was elected, and the Miracle on the Hudson was broadcast first on Twitter by rescuers and folks standing on the wings in the chilly river. So it looks like Twitter will be around for a while and it’s archives even longer. Can you imagine a student researching our history in years to come trying to write a report citing their facts in 140 character snippets?

Until next time, Tim

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9 Tips for Marketing Your Business

9ball_rack_2As a Communicator/Marketer | Web Designer | Writer and Blogger, I’m a big fan of Inbound Marketing, the Internet is a great forum for any business to present itself to customers who are researching “what’s out there” before they buy. To help you attract attention online and to honor the unusual date 09/09/09, I’ve put together  9 tips for Marketing Online. Forget, trade shows, traditional advertising, cold calls, and the yellow pages, the web is where you should be.

1.) Develop a flexible website:

Many of the clients come to RavenWood Creative seeking to either establish a web site or redesign one where they can “control the content” and “update it” whenever they like, without having to depend and wait on IT Professionals to make the changes. Content Management Systems such as WordPress, Joomla, and other Content Management Systems today make it the right choice for businesses today. It enables business owners to control their content and more importantly respond to changing market conditions, world news, and their competition online, where the customers are looking.

2.) Make your Online Presence – Attractive:

Anyone can have all the greatest content and be subject matter experts in their field, but much like a box of cereal on the market shelf, without attractive packaging and an organization behind the content, no one will spend the time to stop and peruse the offerings. Visuals in Web Communication are as important as the words on the screen. People often forget that the World Wide Web is a visual medium, much like television. That images and how information is categorized is paramount to the content itself. If a potential customer can find what they need from you in an easy and attractive fashion, you’re one step closer than the competition to landing that customer. People like clean and easy, they move past unorganized and screens full of text for sites NOT designed in the 1990s. Break up the text with visual cues, and use visuals as part of your navigation.

3.) Don’t forget “Grammar” School:

Writing, that subject you learned in grammar school, is also important. Sure you’ve attracted a potential client to your site by means of a good ranking in a search engine and a visually attractive web site, just to make them click the back button. Why? Because your pages are full of typos, run-on sentences, and a general “let’s put everything up there” attitude about the web site. Your site shouldn’t be a dumping ground for every profile or market report you’ve ever produced. Editing is good. People scan web sites, if they want more, they’ll ask. Less is more on the Web, and your bad-typing skills and lack of organization over your content will lead them to look elsewhere.

4.) Seek Other Opinions:

Sure you know your business and you know what your customers want, you wouldn’t be successful if you didn’t. But, have you ever asked your customers how you can better serve them? The web is a great place to get other opinions about your work. Polls, surveys, comments, and testimonials are the backbone of most social media sites and other successes on the web. Why do you think people seek out recommendations on LinkedIn, or answer a polls on Facebook? Businesses like people seek feedback. Generally, the feedback is constructive and helps you focus your efforts. Use the tools available on the Internet to your advantage and allow other to comment on your work. The next five tips on on tools to use to spotlight your business online.

5.) The Magic of SEO:

With every web design client RavenWood Creative works with, the question of search engine optimization, SEO soon pops up. Many clients have heard of it and many know they should have it on their web site. It makes sense, increase your web site’s ranking in the search engine and drive traffic to your site, but how? It’s like some sort of magic to most, but it all comes down to using the right keywords and other tools within your site that match what a typical or ideal customer will search. The confusion comes from which search engine the customer is using, Google, Yahoo, Ask. Or what the search engine returns, BING returns are slightly different than Google rankings. But all search engines like new, fresh content (see #1) and any way you can do that for your business will pull your information closer to the top in rankings.

6.) Blogs:

You reading one right now, you probably read one more often than you think. Blogs are a great way to keep your site fresh, up-to-date and relevant (remember, search engines like this type of content). But it’s more than a way to post information fast, blogs are a two-way street and comments and conversations are their life blood. Post as often as you can and comment on other blogs more often and soon you’ll be positioning yourself and your company as a subject matter expert. Blogs can be your entire web site, as WordPress and other blogging technology gets more and more sophisticated, keeping your content rich and your visuals up-to-date is easier and easier.

7.) Social Media Worlds:

Each day the Social Media sites converge more, and with this convergence your customers, old friends, and existing clients are spending more time on the sites. It makes sense to be in the location where your customers are asking questions, seeking advice, and sharing thoughts. Ask Comcast, Zappos, and other corporations that are using social media like Twitter to address customer needs. It’s the future of customer service, no longer do you search out an 800 number to call, you Tweet about your service on Twitter and more often than not, you get a response from someone with advice or help. Go where your customers are, go on social media sites.

8.) Social Media Releases:

Gone are the days of typing up a press release on paper and sending it to the local business editor. Social media releases are rapidly taking the place of the static, and stale press releases. Releases with video clips, images, and actual quotes or testimonials are helping get the word out for many companies. PRXbuilder, Pitchengine, storycrafter, realwire are some of the companies helping to push the social media release technology.

9.) Viral Marketing:

We’ve all received them in our inbox, a video or photo that has circled the globe with sleeping cats, crashing cars, or blenders chewing up an iphone. Take advantage of the human behavior to share the fun, the wacky, or the unbelievable. Don’t take yourself or your business too seriously and word-of-mouse techniques can work for you. Ask for opinions, ask them to share and reward those that help you. Sooner or later something will go viral, ask the Blendtec folks.

Have any other tips about inbound marketing to share, please share a comment below. Until next time, Tim

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The Changing Definition of “Audience”

The social media aspects of the Internet are changing the rules of the game and personal technology, (i.e. mobile phones) are changing the audience at those games. As I prepare to take in a ballgame of the 2008 World Series Champion Phillies tonight, an article on Mashable caught my eye. It seems the SEC College Football Conference has updated its media policy to be stricter on regular fans in the stands:

football-fans“Ticketed fans can’t “produce or disseminate (or aid in producing or disseminating) any material or information about the Event, including, but not limited to, any account, description, picture, video, audio, reproduction or other information concerning the Event. …”

This policy is stricter than most policies out there and written that way for a reason. Since it’s publishing it has been slammed by bloggers, Tweeters, and the like as “chasing shadows,” or “not enforceable.” All true, but I don’t see security personnel scanning 90,000 fans and swooping in on a fan in the stands who’s using TwitPic to upload a shot of the latest touchdown by University of Florida.

I agree with most that state that such policies, such as the SEC’s is a fear reaction to not only the present technology that makes every fan with a mobile phone “a mobile news van” but also a policy that is trying to prevent the future from happening when phones will be uploading and sharing video of the action (can you imagine the phone bill?). The definition of audience is merging with the media. Fans are becoming reporters and reporters are relying on such technology to capture fan reaction or track down different perspectives. Remember policies about using the phone at work? Or ones regarding sending personal emails from work? Some are still in place in the corporate world. And right now there is an HR professional out there somewhere writing a policy regarding the use of social media within the company. All will be ignored or skirted as the technology becomes easier and easier for everyone to use. “It’s my mobile phone. I can do with it what I like,” is the prevailing attitude and I think the SEC will soon find that out. Technology is making it more difficult to keep events, whether they be sporting events or a plane crash on the Hudson, from being the sole domain of the media. We’re all media and the sooner the traditional media: newspapers, TV, even today’s bloggers realize it and forget about trying to legislate how we interact and use technology the easier it will become for them to reach and engage their “audience.”

What do you think?

Until next time, Tim

Somewhat related video from YouTube, could this be the future the SEC fears.

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FTC wants to Regulate Bloggers

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Look out Mommy Bloggers and Reviewers, the government is coming to get you! According to the Washington Post (Article June 22, 2009) the Federal Trade Commission is reviewing guidelines it hopes to present later this summer that would regulate how bloggers disclose that they are receiving payments or freebies for their review. MomCentral (@momcentral) and IZEA (@IZEAinc) both of whom follow me on Twitter are mentioned in the article. I’ve met Stacy DeBroff very quickly after she spoke to IABC in San Francisco recently and put the following question to her via Twitter:

My question for @momcentral how do you stay transparent that you are tweeting/blogging for a paying client? #iabc09 ROI to SOI7:38 PM Jun 8th from Twittelator

I haven’t received an answer, yet. I’m sure Stacy or @MomCentral fields hundreds of direct tweets, so maybe they can’t answer them all, but it’s curious that the Washington Post singled them out over their practice of supplying coupons to Mommy bloggers so a certain product can be reviewed. IZEA on the other hand follows me, but has yet to reach out to me to offer any products or companies. But, it should be interesting how the FTC handles the slippery slope of trying to regulate the Internet.

Will bloggers go off-shore to accept payments for reviews? What about Twitter, much of the buzz on the microblogging site, is where do you put a disclaimer in the 140 characters you have to work with? I think the government should review the existing laws it has in place for retailers and the like. Rather than trying to chase down every Mom on a blog or band geek turned techno-blog reviewer, the U.S. Government should clamp down on the unscrupulous retailer trying to lure shoppers with “independent testimonials.” Code of ethics for bloggers are a good thing as well, and most bloggers who don’t disclaim they are receiving payment for their posts are soon uncovered by others who are trying to make blogging an trust-worthy news and information source. As for me, I have never taken payment for my thoughts, if I were, trust me, it would be disclosed.

What are your thoughts on this controversy?

Until next time, Tim

Other thoughts on the issue: Debbie WeilIdeas that SpreadWeblog Tools Collection

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Recap via Twitter of IABC World Conference 2009 – Part 1

abccolor_logoI started using Twitter at IABC International Conference in 2008. It was held in New York City and I soon became a big fan of Twitter and saw that it was a great tool to recap conferences. Back in 2008 there were a handful of us using Twitter and commenting on keynote addresses, what we thought of the breakout session speakers and what we were doing in New York. Checkout out my tweets about the IABC world conference 2009.

This year’s conference was in San Francisco and before the conference event began there was buzz about the conference on Twitter. Then as the conference started, I witnessed an entire sub-conference going on. I’m recapping it here and linking to other recaps from fellow members of IABC.

Prior to the conference and recapping the conference as it happened was OutoftheGate and Linda Johannesson. Byran Person and the Daily Boo also did a nice job recapping the conference.

It’s interesting to see each individuals takeaways from the conference and even the difference in opinions as the session were taking place. Typing in ‘#IABC09′ into Twitter search you will find a plethora of opinions, tips, and recaps. I also made lot of new friends on Twitter through recapping the conference, including: @valpakcoupons @dave1meyer @glendarholmes @distruptivethink @Punkpoet_jb @jenbenz @tomroux @zingzone @kathryncobb @shaileymotial @llibitz @willy26 @paulbartonABC @paulacassin and many more… If you review any of their tweets you’ll see a different perspective on the conference. 

Twitter the Conference’s Hot Topic:
As for the conference Twitter was a part of the majority of the sessions I attended. I think it was mentioned in every session where social media was the topic or not. It’s the hot topic in communication. It was used live to demonstrate how social media is changing the communicator’s role and job in today’s business world. Neville Hobson (@jangles) in his podcasting session did a live Audio Boo recording and instantly had a photo and audio up on the site. That’s me in the green shirt in the blurry photo. He did it all from his iPhone, so lots of other equipment isn’t necessary. Shel Holtz (@shel) showed off the future of the Social Media News Release, I like that he called it a Social Media Kit as it has multimedia information for the press and everyone else out on the net to use as they like. Stacy DeBroff, aka @momcentral discussed Twitter at length and so did Barbara Gibson @Barb_G and @BryanPerson who did an entire session on Twitter for the Communicator.

Opening Session Sunday:
The overall feeling about Blair Christie and Cisco’s opening session was that is was a bit heavy handed on what Cisco could do for its clients and not the expected 30-thousand foot look at the communication industry. The tweets flew fast and furious throughout the speech and demonstration of Cisco’s intranet software packages.

General Session Monday:
Brian Dunn COO and soon-to-be CEO of Best Buy was awarded the IABC Excel Award for his leadership in communication. His thoughts on there no longer being internal and external communication (is all shows up on the Internet) was spot on. And the work his communication staff of 70 is doing with videos for employees and the new ads featuring real employee stories was a great way to highlight the youth of his company’s employee (avg. age 24) and the creativity of the company.

Monday Afternoon:
Branding session: David Grossman, ABC, APR, Fellow PRSA and Marty Campanello, APR, Fellow PRSA Did a great job recapping the Carolinas Healthcare System and it’s rebranding effort: Highlights: Branding and brands the currency of business today marketing from the inside out; Branding session – 26% of employees engaged according to Gallup leaves lots of disengaged and not engaged; in the age of mergers employees need to know what brand promise is and act on it; Carolinas Medical Center transformed their brand – the challenge was encouraging caring staff over other measures; Internal branding isn’t a logo, tagline, giveaway, website. It’s the promise of the brand that make people act; Grossman -branding brings up ops issues that get in way for employees must be addressed.

ROi to SOI: Stacy Debroff: Return on Investment to Sphere of Influence: Stacy who is the CEO of Mom Central Consulting demonstrated how she’s captured the niche market of moms on the social media networks and turned it into a successful consulting business. She’s been a part of campaigns for Frigidaire, Motrin (post-Motrin Moms incident, which she recapped for her point of view). Like any great blogger, she dropped a lot of names, but also backed it up with great content. Highlights: ROI to SOI: social media is changing the way we do everything. Power to the Moms!; ROI to SOI google is new corporate homepage. What people say about you is more important than you say about yourself; SOI increase enthusiasts, negate detractors, drive to action, change perception; transparency and authenticity again appears. The truth will set you free; Now following @momcentral from roi to soi at #IABC09 huge crowd majority of audience is in SM her followers growing by the minute; SM has given rise to crisis management via SM by 45%. Can companies manage a crisis on Twitter?; Stacy DeBroff getting clients off Twitter. MomCentral connects with Pepperidge Farms via a tweet exchange.; Great examples about the power of social media Frigidaire, Ringling Bros., Disney on Ice.; “motrin put out a stupid, bad ad about baby-wearing.” deep analysis YouTube twitter bloggers jumped on it.; how to crisis respond via SM for your company? Need to be able to respond where the conversation is taking place.; Debroff “never argue with an idiot because from the outside you can’t tell who is who!”; SOI is all about relationships. ROI to SOI #iabc09 create brand enthusiasts, stream of conversation – thread a story together. Impressions.; What is the story you want to tell via social media? ROI to SOI Can you change the perception of your brand with those on SM?

My question for @momcentral was how do you stay transparent that you are tweeting/blogging for a paying client? Still waiting for an answer.

Tuesday and Wednesday recap

Until next time, Tim

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Social Media

Social Media is all about community and like-interests finding each other online. RavenWood Creative can help you find your place in all the social media environments available.

So if you’re struggling to figure out how your business should use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social networking tool, contact us, and we’ll get to work on a social media communication plan.

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    Social Media Exploding and Twitter is Lighting the Fuse

    Tomorrow, I plan on taking on the impossible. I need to sum up what’s happening on the web in the realm of social media for group of business people, and I only have about 30 minutes. I’m presenting on the web to the Flourtown Businesspersons Association, FBA, a group that spans several generations and obviously is a diverse audience from different lines of work.

    I plan on briefly covering the history behind social media, about a minute. Discussing how eBay and other original online communities (remember listserv, bulletin boards, chat, etc.) have continued to evolve to the facebooks and Twitter of today.

    Then, I’ll explain how facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have taken the online world by storm. Facebook offers advertisers the opportunity to get in front of 175 million pairs of eyes.

    Finally, I’ll tackle some of the many examples of how people are using social networking, these new media tools and micro-blogging such as Twitter to find jobs (Dave Murray), recruit members (Coast Guard), and stay in contact with customers (TSA, Timbuk2, Zappos).

    I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Until next time, Tim

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    Ah Design! What do you look for in good design?

    Graphic design. It’s a small world inside a small world. I’ve found there are a few active bloggers out there that are also designers. I’ve mentioned some in past design posts. What I always find interesting is what people consider good design. There are volumes written on the topic. One of my favorites that sits on my shelf but is more often open and being reviewed is Looking Good in Print. But with the advent of the Internet and eventually social media, those same principles for print are alive and well on the web. But I’m interested in what you find to be good design?

    Is it the clever use of a font or illustration?

    Is it the spacial relationship between the white space and the composition?

    What role does the application of color or lack of play in the design?

    What are your favorite corporate logos, which do you think need to be updated? What role does the product the corporations sells play in the logo?

    What do you think of RavenWood Creative’s logo?

    Some thought provoking questions. I’m interested in hearing what you think, please let me know.

    You may be wondering why I’m asking. I have two reasons. One it will help me get a sense of how others see design and may help others learn. Two, I want to help my friend Jacob Cass celebrate.

    One of those who has engaged a growing audience through his blog and through Twitter is one of my online friends Jacob Cass’ who’s distinctive logo for Just Creative Design is eye-catching, clever and strong. And it looks good in print. Jacob is celebrating the 1 year anniversary of his blog.  Congratulations. His support of my blog and other designers who blog has been genuine and appreciated. Jacob recently had a very clever idea to have others blog about design and donate to a world charity to enter a contest to celebrate his anniversary. He lined up prizes and so far it’s been a success.

    So please let me know your thoughts on design and help me spread the world about design through my blog.

    Until next time, Tim

    Just Creative Design

    Just Creative Design

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