Category: Communication (Page 2 of 6)

Why Your Blog Should Be More Like Mr. Darcy

Detail of a C. E. Brock illustration for the 1...

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I was pimpled, bespectacled and totally hormonal when Pride & Prejudice came out. So, there I sat, popcorn in hand, watching Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy‘s love story in the Cinemark surrounded by 50+ high school literature students.  We sighed, giggled, and nearly fainted with anticipation at the first kiss. Now THAT was romance.

Fast forward six years later:  I’m still bespectacled and yes, still totally gaga over Mr. Darcy. There’s just something about him that makes me coming back for more. I can watch the movies (Matthew MacFadyen and Colin Firth are both F-I-N-E) and feel totally entranced by this brooding, beauty of a man. But why?

The list of reasons why we love Mr. Darcy could go on for ages. There are countless sites dedicated to decoding our love for Darcy. Just say it out loud: “Mr. Darcy”.

We’ve been in love with this man for centuries and we look for him in our own partners. As a blogger, I’d also say that we look for him in other blogs.  Maybe not by name, but definitely by type. Characters like Mr. Darcy are appealing, and so are storytelling approaches that remind us of him.

Bloggers: you need to get to know Mr. Darcy. In fact, there’s quite a bit that you can learn from him when it comes to your blog.

Do me a favor. Go rent “Pride and Prejudice”. Sit down and just watch. Enjoy it. And then, come back to this post and see why your blog should be more like Mr. Darcy.

He is Loyal

Our dear Fitzwilliam fell in love with Elizabeth and stayed true, even after getting shot down. That takes guts – and so does updating your blog regularly with great content. If you want your readers to swoon, be sure that you keep to a schedule. Post fresh content regularly; they’ll always come back wanting more.

Also, don’t get discouraged if the readers aren’t signing up to your subscription feed in droves. Building a presence like Mr. Darcy takes time and effort. You’ve got to build relationships with your readers. Listen to their feedback. Be responsive. Don’t make empty promises.

He has the Perfect Combination of Arrogance and Aloofness

You can’t help but adore his snark. That handsome facade. Biting wit. *Melt* The point is that Mr. Darcy’s got it going on and he’s not afraid to show it – but not too much.

It’s OK for you to tout what you know. In fact, being confident in your skill makes it easier for you to get your point across and build trust around your personal brand. If you show yourself as an authority and then prove it with your work, celebrate it! Let people know! Show ’em what you’re working with.

But don’t get overly cocky. Being humble balances out the badassedness and makes you more human and appealing to your readers. So go ahead and say you’re awesome…but don’t beat it into our brains over and over. Be a little whimsical too. The ladies LOVE whimsy.

He is Intelligent

Darcy is smart, but it doesn’t necessarily have to do solely with his education. Every word he speaks, every action he takes is carefully considered (in most cases) and usually has a purpose behind it. While at first we may not understand why he does what he does, with time, we come to know that there was a reason for it.

Consider each word of your blog post as Darcy considers each word he writes or speaks. Be clear and concise. Please, oh please, check for spelling and grammar. If you’re a high class guy like Mr. Darcy, you wouldn’t be caught dead mixing up “your” and “you’re”.

He Reevaluates

We all know that Mr. Darcy is stubborn and we see that throughout the story. He seems prideful and arrogant – until he gets the right feedback. When Elizabeth rejects Darcy’s proposal, he takes a step back and realizes how he is perceived by others. He reconsiders his actions and his motives.

As a blogger, you should be doing the same thing. Keeping a blog static and unresponsive to reader feedback is a perfect way to get lost and ignored. Instead, listen to your readers. Take their feedback into consideration. See what you can do to make your blog better for them – and you.

He is Sexy

Yeah, yeah, yeah, there’s all that beauty in the eye of the beholder business, but truth be told, if it looks sexy, sounds sexy, and feels sexy, it’s DAAAHHHMMM sexy. Mr. Darcy screams sex, although it’s not in an over the top way. He’s subtle about it. A slight touch of the hand. A lingering gaze. Slow but purposeful dialogue.

You’ve got to make your blog (and brand) scream sex too, but subtly. Have content that’s awesome and easy to read. Have a design that reinforces your message and fits well with your personality. Include images (good ones) in your posts. Make the navigation simple. And for god sakes, don’t forget about the personality. Mr. Darcy works because he’s a good character. He’s got depth and a mind of his own. His personality is unmistakable. Yours should be too.

Just take a look at RedHead Writing. Her blog is SUPER sexy. She even has a porn category for her most popular posts.

We All Fall in Love With Him

I can tell you one thing about that AP English field trip  to the movies: every single girl in there went “AWWWWWW” when they finally kissed at the end. Every. Single. One. When you see something that good, you can’t help but love it. The same thing goes for your blog. If it’s good, your readers will notice and fall in love, just like we did with Mr. Darcy.

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Google How To

Google, NPR, and Why You Should Vary Your Marketing, Part 1

In the past few weeks, the SEO world (and even NPR) has been buzzing about the Google Panda Update. Also known as the Google Farmer Update, Panda was an algorithmic change that impacted a huge number of sites. The main target? Content farms that were clogging search engine results with thin, low quality (i.e. crap) content. While the user experience seems to be much better, there was some collateral damage done.

Google How To

The NPR piece, Google’s Search Tweak Puts a Company At Risk, describes the challenge of an online furniture retailer being impacted by the Panda update. Many online businesses live and die by search engine results pages. If they capture a coveted spot on the first page, they have a much better chance of making a sale. Disappear into the first few pages and beyond and it’s really tough to achieve that average 1-2% conversion rate. Yes, 1-2% of all visitors actually make a purchase. This statistic alone should drive a site owner to want to target and attract qualified visitors who actually WANT to make a purchase. Those prospective customers have to be reached authentically and in a space that’s comfortable for them. They have to be persuaded and romanced by striking photos, unique copy, and a design that’s easy to navigate. They also have to like what you sell.

Picture this: you’re on Google looking for oh, I don’t know, let’s say…stainless steel cookware. You like to cook and have been meaning to get a new set, but you haven’t be able to find what you’re looking for in the local stores. After putting in “stainless steel cookware set” in the Google search box, you’ll get a results page that’s filled with people who want nothing more than to get your eyeballs on their page. They tease with catchy meta descriptions that invite you to click that link and find that cookware set you’ve been searching for. The hyperlinked result, the meta title, looks like something you’d be interested in. So you click and….you end up on a page that’s boring. With sucky, uninteresting copy. No product images. Really bland looking design. Spammy links all over the footer. Wow. Huge let down. Browser back button.

Just by taking a look at our own user experience, it’s easy to see why we Google made this change. It’s rewarding sites that take the time to be interesting and valuable to the user. Granted, the chief target of the Panda update was the eliminate content farm clog, but it seems that ecommerce sites are the most widely reported collateral damage. While no one knows the exact reasons why ecommerce sites may have been hit harder (hey, it’s Google, you know that algorithmic change stuff is double secret probation style), there are theories. In general, ecommerce sites tend to have a lot of duplicate or “thin” content issues based on the way they’re structured. Were all ecommerce stores effected? No. Were ecommerce stores with thin content and spammy SEO tactics affected? Darn tootin’. Dr. Pete of SEOmoz gave a really awesome rundown on some “thin” content problems that the Panda update brought attention to. Any ecommerce store owner should take a look at his blog post and start developing strategies on how they’ll make their site stand out from the pack.  The first place to start is with content. I feel very passionate about this. Good SEO-friendly copy is really hard to come by. It takes time, effort, and skill to develop and in a lot of cases, it can reap rewards in the form of increased conversions, longer time on site, more eyeballs, and better search ranking.

As quoted in the NPR article:

“The sites that do put a little bit more individual care and attention and work into the content of their site — whether it be a product description, or a blog post,” says Matt Cutts, Google’s lead engineer on the Panda update, “those are the ones that users tend to prefer a little bit more and appreciate.”

Good copy matters and it’s worth investing in. People like it. You like it. Site owners who surf the internet regularly like it, sometimes without knowing it. We’re all part of the user experience and we give our thumbs up through Facebook likes, click throughs, and scanning multiple pages. Wouldn’t it be worth it to keep us happy? Wouldn’t you want to make your site as useful and engaging as possible?  Just look at Woot! and their amazing copywriting. It paid off.

Yes, it may seem a daunting task to update thousands of unique products with content that actually matters. Sucky descriptions and copy & paste manufacturer’s text just won’t cut it anymore, and actually, I think that’s a good thing. It raises the standard for doing business online. I know it makes things difficult for the store owner and I know it’s a lot of time, effort, and energy expended into writing good copy, but think of it this way: if the Internet could be filled with stuff that was appealing, stuff that actually was valuable and interesting, wouldn’t that be an Internet that you’d want to be a part of?

This is part 1 of several (still working on the other components). Feedback is appreciated! Where would you like to see this series of posts go? What questions do you want answered?

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Shrinking

midland painted turtle hatchling

Image by alumroot via Flickr

It’s hard practicing what you preach, especially when others look to you for guidance.

So what do you do when faced with something that’s incredibly scary but thrilling at the same time?

Shrink.

In my case, this is usually my gut reaction. I shrink back. I, like a turtle, pull my neck into my cardigan and snuggle up in that little bit of security that I think I have. Little do I know that I never really had that security in the first place. After all, I chose to publish.

Putting yourself out there online isn’t scary at first. Actually, it’s really exciting. You’ve got this fresh, blank slate to work from and you love the chance to create something. Yes, you’re creating. And it’s real. And it’s out there. And there are consequences.

I recently had a post published on Search Engine People. I’ve been guest blogging over there for awhile now and it’s been a great experience. I’ve produced some great work, and hey! My name is out there, which is also exciting. But my most recent post on storytelling and SEO wasn’t like my other guest posts. It was bigger than that.

The post you’re reading now isn’t about how my storytelling guest post got a lot of hits. It’s also not about how it got a solid Post Rank and was popular. It’s also not about how the post was tweeted by Brian Clark of Copyblogger. No, it’s not about that. It’s about knowing that something is very real and that your actions have consequences.

After the post went live, I was noticed, even if it was only by a few people. That’s something that comes with the act of choosing to publish online. Some people don’t think about that when they hit update or click “OK” on something. Not everyone considers that every act, every published status, and every comment has a consequence: you can be noticed. I see it all the time with people my own age, baffled by the fact that they can’t get jobs yet amused by the most recent posting of photos from last night’s kegger. I also see it with people much older than I, crying for attention with a constant stream of negativity between Farmville updates. It’s a bit baffling, but it’s also part of our nature.

We like to tell stories. We live to do it. In fact, we’ve been doing it for thousands of years. People love to create a world that they understand and they exercise control over that world through communication. Maybe it’s through art, music, words – it doesn’t necessarily have to be a particular medium. The point is that when you put something out there, it’s a direct reflection back to you and back to the image you’ve created of yourself and your world.

My post reflected me as a storyteller and a good writer. I was flattered by it because really, that’s all I want to do with my life. I want to communicate and tell stories – not in the sense of marketing false information but in the sense of being engaging. This is what I want to do and by publishing a post like I did, I set the precedence. Did you ever stop to consider that what you’re posting is setting the precedence for you? Or your business? Or your product? Or your service? It doesn’t matter. What you post is there and once it’s out, it’ll start making impressions. Choose carefully.

You see, when you get called on to actually live up to the online expectations you’ve set, you better be damn well ready to do so. You can’t shrink, as much as you may want to. It’s easy to be a hack. It’s easy to back down and stay silent. It’s also easy to puff yourself up, inflate your ego, and deliver failure. Danny Brown wrote a great post about this. There are a lot of people out there who choose hackdom because it’s easy and sometimes, it can lead to quick bursts of attention. Until people start asking. Or calling. Or questioning. That’s when your word goes against the rest of the world and you had better be confident that your word will hold up.

You can’t shrink from what you’ve created.

From now on, I’ll try not to.

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SES Swag

My Trip to #SESNY

SES Swag

This is my first time ever going to Search Engine Strategies, and I have to say, I was a bit surprised. Having been to the Web 2.0 Expo, I thought this was going to be a MASSIVE meeting of techies who couldn’t wait to give out their business cards and sell me on the next big start up :)

OK – maybe not really, but you get the picture. As I mentioned earlier, my experience at the Web 2.0 Expo made me feel a bit skeptical, but I was surprised by what I encountered at SES. The first thing I noticed was that it was a lot less busy on the expo hall floor. My guess was that a lot of people were in the sessions at the time. I also noticed that there wasn’t a whole lot of intermingling of attendees. Yes, there was a lot of interaction between booth and prospects, but I didn’t see a whole lot of prospect on prospect action (that sounded a bit dirty…). It was definitely a different experience, and I’m glad I went. And I did get something big out of it.


Here’s what I took away from #SESNY:

1.) Everyone has something to sell. I don’t think there was a booth I stopped by in the exhibition hall that didn’t have something to sell, which is pretty obvious, considering that it’s a convention. But that wasn’t what I remembered most about the experience. I remember the people I spoke with and what booths they were manning. I remember how they made me feel.

Some made me feel uncomfortable and were a bit pushy. Others were polite and really laid back. Either way, it got me thinking about how when we’re at these things, we’re not just looking to peddle our products. We’re peddling ourselves. We’re trying desperately to make new connections, meet new people, and show that we know what we’re doing. In a field like SEO, it can be tough to do, especially since SEO as a whole is constantly in flux. It’s really easy to throw around buzzwords and shiny metrics and sexy-looking software. It’s difficult to have a candid conversation – even though it’s those conversations that matter most.

2.) Friendliness makes a huge difference. I can’t stress this enough. If you’re friendly, I’ll approach you. If you look miserable or have your nose in the air, I won’t. I don’t care if you’re giving away a free XBOX or not. If you’re not showing your target audience that you’re approachable, why even set up shop?

I like what the narrorator has to say in Fight Club about single serving friends, because I think in all honesty, we all try to be single serving friends when we’re at these things. I’m going to just throw this out there, but I wonder how many people actually continue to keep in touch and share things after these events end. If so, for how long?

3.) Free stuff = good. Working for free stuff = even better. Orange Soda had a really cool idea for their booth and I have to say that I enjoyed stopping by to roll the dice and put a slinky to my forehead. Yes. I said slinky. To the forehead. I won a nifty bottle opener. In my mind, I’m associating Orange Soda with thinking outside the conventional convention booth, er, box.  +1 for Orange Soda.

4.) Don’t just tell me. Show me! There were a lot of booths with fancy sales sheets and pretty banners, but the ones I got the most out of were the ones that showed me what they had to offer. They engaged in a conversation. They attempted to relate to me, even though we both knew that they were just trying to make a sale. They also demonstrated what their service/product could do. Those are the details that make things stick and make us much more likely to trust in what you have to offer.

I guess what I’m trying to say in all of this is that SES NY taught me quite a bit about sales; about what people actually remember when they encounter you. Sales isn’t a huge area of focus for me and even though I did advertising sales for my college newspaper, I would never consider myself to be a salesperson. Though I am in a way. I sell myself – my personal brand – every day. I do it by the way I conduct myself online. I do it through this blog. I also do it through being helpful to friends and family members. I’ve built up a reputation for being helpful even though I wasn’t treating every interaction as a sale…even though that’s what it is at a pretty basic level.

So. Sales. What are your thoughts? Discuss.

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Crisis Control Should Be Part Of Your PR & Social Media Strategy

This is a guest post by Dan Cash.

Crisis management has always been something that businesses dread, however, with the right PR companies working for them it should be something which can be handled efficiently and with minimum impact to the brand and the message your company is trying to deliver. However, these days though it’s not as straightforward as it once was.

Five years ago a PR disaster would involve traditional media sources repeating news about the situation in which your company found itself, there would be chatter on the internet, discussions on forums and a number of angry emails, telephone calls and letters. Your PR firm’s responsibility would be to mitigate the message and to placate those who had the greatest grievance. Today, because of social media platforms the situation is similar but ramped up to the Nth degree.

Because having a profile on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter is an industry expectation, your company is open to comments and criticism which you host on your profile page which all your business partners and clients can then see. Your knee-jerk reaction might be to delete disparaging comments but this would probably be a mistake as censorship is something that internet users have come to feel very strongly about.

If an event occurs it’s vital that you deal with it quickly. If you make your media responses and take remedial action immediately,  you’ll nip many of your critics in the bud. Any delays can be correlated into loss of reputation and the speed at which social media works means that ‘timely’ essentially means instantly.

Rather than responding to your critics with denial and deletion of their comments, if you’ve dealt with the problem, say so and explain, calmly and reasonably what steps you took, how this event will be something you will learn from in the future and that you welcome constructive comments and suggestions for ongoing policy reviews.

If your remediation is ongoing, explain that you’re making your best efforts to resolve the situation, that you’re pouring manpower and knowhow into solving the problem. Use your social media to keep those concerned abreast of your efforts, in real time if you can. Answer critical comments honestly without being rude or patronizing where the ill informed have taken it upon themselves to join in on hating you but point out where they have been misguided.

Charlie Pownall, lead digital strategist for Burston Marsteller says that:

“The internet and social media are changing the nature and the dynamic of issue and crisis management to the extent that many corporations feel that they aren’t in control of their reputation. It is a myth that companies could control their reputations it is getting harder for them to shape perception. Organizations have to be transparent, sincere and engage with their audience.”

If you want to ensure that your crisis recovery is effective it’s necessary to have a well thought out and implementable strategy. You need to be able to talk about the worst case scenario and make sure that not only do you make contingencies for it, you need also to have media statements and expert testimony pointing out that you have already looked into what would happen in just such a situation and that you are bringing all the state of the art techniques that exist to bear on delivering the solution. Your crisis communications have to be suitable for all streams of media, including press and TV, social media, radio web content and press releases. The message has to be coherent, informative and each data stream should compliment the others.

Dan Cash is a writer specialising in social media. Humax foxsat HDRs mean that he doesn’t miss his favourite shows while he’s on Facebook and sledertone takes care of the workout. No need to leave the chair ever again!

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Google Search Results

Old MacDonald Had a Content Farm.

Google Search Results

Thank you Google.

Yesterday, the search giant announced on its blog that it made an algorithmic update. A big one too.  By Google’s measure, it should affect 11.8%  of its search results in the US, which is more than most algorithmic updates. The target of the update? Content farms and scrapers.

Danny Sullivan christened it the Farmer update and gave a solid analysis on the release. I’d most definitely check out his post to get the skinny.

According to the official blog post from Google on the update:

This update is designed to reduce rankings for low-quality sites—sites which are low-value add for users, copy content from other websites or sites that are just not very useful. At the same time, it will provide better rankings for high-quality sites—sites with original content and information such as research, in-depth reports, thoughtful analysis and so on.

In all honesty, content farms and scrapers drive me crazy. Not only do they clog up my search engine results page with crappy results, but they also give SEO a bad name. Let’s face it: there are quite a few SEO companies out there that use content farms to cut corners.  It’s cheap and easy…but it’s also cheap and easy.

Good Content Takes Balls

Testicular fortitude. Courage. However you want to put it, it takes balls to write solid content that provides value. Just think about it: your content will matter to users. It’s not just there for the link. It’s there because it’s useful and interesting and people actually want to read it. It’s a hard charge to be given as a copywriter. In fact, it’s damn hard. I know from experience. As an SEO copywriter, it’s my job to create content that doesn’t suck and believe me, there are days when that’s hard to do. But the user always has and always will have to come first and that’s what’s at the core of this algorithm update.

Cheap and Easy

Unfortunately, there are just too many people who claim to be in SEO who lack the balls to create good content. Instead, it gets outsourced for cheap because it saves time and effort. What comes back? Cheap, shallow content. Thankfully, there’s now an algorithmic solution in place to weed out some of the junk. Blekko’s idea of eliminating crap content on a site by site basis seems a bit inefficient, though I do like the fact that users may catch things that the algorithm doesn’t. Either way, I can breathe a little sigh of relief.

Douchebaggery

Content scrapers in particular are a nuisance. Like gnats.

Out of curiosity a few months ago, I searched for my name and found some of my own content scraped. It sucks knowing that my content is being dumped onto a crappy site that only serves the purpose of being the douchebag of the SEO world. Remember all of those plagiarism lectures you had to go through in school? They still apply.

Takeaways

This update is a big deal for those in SEO, as well as for site owners. For me, the key lessons are:

  • Don’t allow your site to be mired in sucky content. It’s easy to hire a copywriter or an SEO firm for $5 a page but you get what you pay for. $5 a page doesn’t buy you good content that offers value. It may not even buy you original content at all.  Invest in quality content because at the end of the day, it’s what will make your site successful.
  • If you want to offer value, put the user first. It’s easy to lose sight of the user experience when one is trying to up rankings. Instead, site owners are making their sites with search engines, not people, in mind. But rankings aren’t the true SEO success metric. Traffic is. No one is going to visit a spammy-looking site just because it ranks well. If it looks crappy, navigates crappy, and offers crappy content, guess what? It’s a crappy site. Toss it.
  • Spend more time and effort on creating content that matters.

Final Thoughts

I’ll be interested to see how this plays out for article marketing and user generated content sites. Dave Harry‘s take on Search News Central says that early testing is showing that it’s not aimed directly at sites like eHow, Yahoo! Answers, HowStuffWorks, About.com, etc.

How about you? What are your thoughts on the Farmer update? Are you as happy about it as I am?

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Communication Fail.

Communication

Bruce Buschel’s column, You’re the Boss, recently took on the PR industry (see “The Problem with Public Relations“) and I have to say, it made me raise an eyebrow.

The problem wasn’t with public relations. It was with communication.

Communication

Agency/client communication is the cornerstone of any campaign. It’s really just that simple. In my day job, I couldn’t do my job successfully without keeping in touch with the client. Everyone has to be on the same page. Everyone has to have a clear understanding of what the end goal is and how we’ll get there. In this column, all the writer does is bitch about the frustrations of not having a clear end goal or path.

Where was the planning? Where was the communication? Where were those realistic expectations?

Nowhere. Nowhere to be found and that’s why it’s now it’s a rant in The New York Times. It was a mere failure in communication between PR agency and client.

The comments echo this sentiment. Here’s a sampling:

“PR is like quicksilver, it’s hard to grab hold of and it’s even harder to quantify its value. And like any profession, there are good PR people and bad PR people. But my take on your situation is that you were victim of you’re own impatience and internal buzz. A good PR person would have told you from the beginning that it’s impossible ‘to instantly create a name and a brand.’ PR is a slog, not a sprint. The public is skeptical of instant celebrity, with good reason. If I were your PR person I would advise you to slow down your expectations, and work towards a solid reputation built on actual results.” – Trillian, New York City

“I’ve read your post two times looking for clues as to what went wrong and some questions come to mind: What was spelled out in the contract as it relates to deliverables? In the first case, why so much money spent with nothing to show for it? In the second, was it clear as could be that you would receive an evaluation after the fact and why that would be a good thing? At the risk of sounding overly simplistic, it sounds like: ‘what we have here is a failure to communicate.'” – Libbie Hough, Hillsborough, NC

Taking all of this into account, any good PR person (and client) can walk away with some good points:

  1. Make sure expectations are set. Early.
  2. Communication is a MUST. Don’t let it break down. Otherwise, rants like this one happen.
  3. Make sure both you and the client understands the end goal and how you’ll get there.
  4. Be specific when it comes to deliverables.
  5. Have a plan. Ask questions. Do your research.  A successful campaign takes preparation. Plus, having the substance to back it up helps both you and the client when the question of justification comes up.
  6. Take the time to evaluate. If there’s one thing I took away from being in PRSSA, it was that evaluation is so important.

But besides all of these great take-aways,  I think this raises an even more important issue:  communication is taking a beating.

Step Back

In the past year alone, I can’t even tell how many posts or articles I’ve read about the shortcomings of public relations professionals. Actually, communications professionals in general. Advertising. SEO. PR. Bloggers. Each has been taken on with a ferocity that can be quite scary. Now don’t get me wrong, there are problems in every industry and these just happen to be the ones of the moment,  but I have to say that few have actually taken a step back and said:

Poor communication is the problem.

Both clients and agencies are at fault. We’ve seen it happen. I think instead of stories in the New York Times, we should be actually working on the problem of communication. Let’s not bitch about it. Let’s do something about it. Put good communication before tools, success metrics, and all of those other buzzwords that have seem to clouded our core principle: to communicate well.

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Google Goggles

Ogling with Google Goggles

Google Goggles

Since I work in search, I’m always on the hunt for new technologies that make the experience better for the user. Just recently, I’ve taken a closer look at Google Goggles and I have to say that I’m impressed.

Google Goggles is a mobile application that allows for you to search the web using pictures instead of typing or speaking a query. Just open the app, take a photo, and then wait for the search results.

This application is great for things like books, DVDs, landmarks, barcodes, logos, contact info, artwork, businesses, products, or text, but the really cool thing about it is that it can recognize print advertisements and then return a query. Things it’s not so good at identifying: animals, plants, cars, furniture, or apparel.

But the important thing about Google Goggles is that it’s engaging the searcher in a different way. It’s going beyond keyboards and touch screens and instead getting us to think visually about our searches. Granted, we sometimes do this with Google Image searches, but this is so much more beyond that. We can now learn more, with our phones, just by snapping a photo.

The coolest thing that I’ve found with Google Goggles so far is that it can recognize print advertisements, which definitely means that it has some implications on traditional marketing strategies.

I’ve seen bridal ads as examples, but I can see in the future, a much more sophisticated method of interacting with traditional media ads. Maybe you’ll be able to snap a photo of the ad and it can connect you to the store’s customer service department instantly. Maybe you can take a photo and order. Who knows?

I like what Post Advertising had to say on the subject. In fact, I couldn’t agree more:

Google Goggles is proof that brands must transcend physical branding mediums and add a new layers of depth to all of their content. While QR codes and StickyBitz utilize variations on the barcode, Google’s advanced image-capturing system essentially turns everything into its own barcode.

This means that each and every object and product now has the potential to be a digitally enabled, feature-rich piece of content. As the technology improves, consumers will get used to holding up their phone to scan objects rather than typing into search fields. As a result, one would hope that forward-thinking marketers will increasingly design print ads that are maximized for Goggles’ visual search results and take advantage of the new opportunities it affords — hyperlocal deals, more engagement, and meaningful conversations.

More engagement? Yes.
Hyper-local deals? Absolutely.
Meaningful conversation? Let’s hope so.

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A Fashion Flub: The Kenneth Cole Tweet

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Image via Wikipedia

This week, the social media world farted. OK, well maybe not farted, but that’s how Todd Defren put it in his most recent post: “In Social Media, Everyone Can Hear You Fart.”

Todd Defren is the Principal of SHIFT Communications, a major communications firm, so he definitely knows his stuff. His blog, PRSquared, is a must-read for anyone looking to get an honest to goodness look into the communications world. However, back to the point: earlier this week, Kenneth Cole‘s official Twitter account released a tweet that was nothing short of shocking and um, graceless.

The text of the tweet was as follows: “Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online at [LINK].”

Tasteless, yes. Terrible, yes. But it did give communicators (like us) a good reminder. You need to THINK before you tweet. In the case of Kenneth Cole, they weren’t thinking about how their messaging (the tweet) would impact the overall perception of their brand.  When you’re crafting your messages for your company, make sure that you understand that every message you send connects back to your brand image. Once ruined, that brand image can take months, years, or possibly never to repair.

Also, it can lead to spoofed Twitter accounts that can further damage the brand, like this one: https://twitter.com/kennethcolepr

Read Todd Defren’s blog post. It gives a recap of the event as well as an analysis. Plus, it’s a good read, including the comments. http://www.pr-squared.com/index.php/2011/02/in-social-media-everyone-can-hear-you-fart

Keep this in mind if you’re planning on using Facebook, Twitter, a website, or any other type of new media in your strategy.

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Guest Post Round Up 10/29

Enjoy! My guest blogs from around the internetz :) Happy Halloween!

Straight Talk from Alumni Lawyers – Binghamton University Magazine

Equestrian Team Allows Alumni to Compete – Binghamton University Magazine

Exploring Enigmas of the Holocaust – Binghamton University’s Alumni Connect Homecoming Edition

5 Ways Young Communications Pros Can Improve Their Resumes – The Communications Blog

5 Link Building Strategies to Get You Noticed – The Web.com Blog

Move Over LinkedIn – The Next Great Generation

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