Here are some tips on managing your time on the social web:

  1. Schedule Everything and stick to the schedule
    I use the Entourage calendar to schedule EVERYTHING…meetings, responding to email, social network presence, day-to day tasks.  But it’s not enough to schedule things..you have to stick to the schedule!
  2. Schedule your most important tasks when you feel like you are most productive
    The most productive time is different for each person…some people are sharpest in the morning, some are later in the day.  Figure out what your magic time slot is and schedule your most important task during that time.  Sprinkle your social interactions & email management throughout the day but make sure it’s not during your most productive time.
  3. Use a timer
    Using a timer will allow you to set an alarm to notify you when your current scheduled task/activity is supposed to end.  Let’s say you are alotting 20 minutes for social media interaction at 1pm…before you begin the task at 1pm, set your alarm to let you know when the 20 minutes has passed. 
  4. Close down the applications that you are not using
    Human nature is to respond to stimuli…so if you hear a notice that you have a new email or a new response from a friend, you have to go see what it is.  That is why if it’s not time to check and respond to email, I close down the email application…if it’s not time to interact on Twitter, I close down the Twitter application…the point is…only have the application that you are currently working in open.
  5. Set and manage expectations
    Managing everyone’s expectations is the key to time management.  I think a lot of the time, the immediacy to respond is in our own head.  Training your clients, colleagues, friends, and online connections that you are not available 24×7 will allow you to respond on your own time.  And because we are all going through this information and task overload…they will more than undertand!

From the Team at WebWitches

Tags: Increase traffic site Internet seo Online internet marketing Online ranking Online seo Learn SEO online SEO Course SEO for Beginners

www.webwitches.com.au

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Female uses were sent private messages to update their Facebook status with the colour of their bra, in a message that read, “Some fun is going on…just write the color of your bra in your status. Just the color, nothing else. It will be neat to see if this will spread the wings of breast cancer awareness. It will be fun to see how long it takes before people wonder why all the girls have a color in their status Haha.”

The message was un-attributable to a specific organsiation, which is part of its appeal as a viral marketing tool. Viral campaigns are based on word of mouth distribution amongst fans. Part of their appeal is that they are not branded, nor do they have an obvert or often clunky marketing message. Instead, they aim to engage fans through their quirkiness or their unique manner of telling a story. In addition, this campaign could be said to be particularly successful because it asked for a call to action from fans.

“Generally for a viral campaign to be successful it needs to be very subtly branded, as the online community are pretty wary of being marketed to, so from a brand recognition point of view you don’t really get the visibility through this type of activity,” said Nicole Lovelock from the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), in response to the viral campaign.

At NBCF, however, they have no idea as to where the campaign came from, or as to who started it. “No we haven’t heard where it started, but it doesn’t seem linked back to any particular organisation – it may have just started as a fun thing and because of the bra mention, been linked back to breast cancer.”

Without being directly attributed to breast cancer, it could be asked what the benefits of such a campaign are. Is it really nothing more than a crass attempt to get attention, or one of the latest quizzes or applications sprouted by Facebook?

Lovelock says anything that gets a dialogue about breast cancer research and awareness going is worthwhile.

“It gets people talking and puts it on the agenda for a short time.

“At NBCF we definitely see the benefits of harnessing social media to promote our research message and fundraising campaigns, with over 10,000 Facebook fans and close to 1,000 Twitter followers, and we use these mediums regularly to communicate with our supporters.”

But does it get people to donate or volunteer?

“That would be the preferred outcome as opposed to ‘awareness’ – most people are aware of breast cancer – our goal is to generate sustained engagement with the community to continue funding for research which will ultimately help to save women’s lives.”

Lovelock reports, however, that since 7 January, when the campaign first started, they have attracted an extra 230 Facebook fans. Of particular note was the spike in web traffic on 8 January, with 170 additional click throughs from the NBCF Facebook page to their website.

While there were no donations made via the Facebook page during that period, Lovelock comments, “I would have to say yes, it has had a flow on effect.”

From the Team at WebWitches

Tags: Increase traffic site Internet seo Online internet marketing Online ranking Online seo Learn SEO online SEO Course SEO for Beginners

www.webwitches.com.au

30 Tips for Using Social Media in Your Business

Wading into the fast-moving flow of social media can be daunting to a small business owner with very little time on his hands. So Inc. has boiled down 30 tips — from using social networks to generate leads to what not to say in your blog — for the time-strapped but socially curious CEO.

By April Joyner |  Jan 18, 2010

1. Offer a peek behind the scenes. Offering a sneak preview of new products, services, or features online can help build demand and provide critical feedback to help smooth the launch. For instance, John Doyle, founder of chocolate company John and Kira’s in Philadelphia, posts photos of new products on Flickr and invites comments from customers.

2. Harness your expertise. Chances are your company’s white paper won’t go viral. But sharing knowledge you’ve gathered through your trade can go a long way toward boosting your brand. Ford Models, for instance, became a YouTube sensation through a series of videos that featured its models giving beauty and fashion tips.

3. Demonstrate what your company does. Because multimedia is so integral to social media, getting connected allows you to express your company’s value proposition beyond words. To show just how powerful his company’s blenders were, Blendtec’s head of marketing, George Wright, created a series of videos showing the appliances churning up such diverse items as a rotisserie chicken, a Rubik’s Cube, and an iPhone. The series’ 100 million combined views helped boost Blendtec’s sales by 700 percent.

4. Put your website’s content to work. Want to draw more traffic to your website? Help spread the word by encouraging visitors to share content they enjoy. GotCast, a website that connects television casting directors with aspiring actors, draws new visitors by posting audition videos on Digg and allowing others to share video links on the site. One way to promote the sharing of your site’s content is to install a widget, such as AddThis, that automates linking to popular sites.

5. Be candid. In unsure economic times, transparency goes a long way toward retaining and attracting customers. Giving readers the scoop on your company blog is an easy way to keep the lines of communication open. Giacomo Guilizzoni, the founder of San Francisco software company Balsamiq, even posts sales and profit figures to show that his company is on solid financial footing.

6. But be careful what you say about others. When Leslie Richard, owner of a North Carolina clothing company, described Vision Media Television as a “scam,” she was slapped with a $20 million lawsuit. While recounting negative experiences with others won’t necessarily lead to a court battle, it’s best to steer clear of name-calling.

7. Interact with visitors—really. Just putting up a blog or a Facebook fan page won’t do much good if visitors sense the flow of conversation only goes one way. In fact, Matt Mullenweg, founder of blogging platform WordPress, lists not participating in comments as a surefire way to kill a community. Mullenweg and his team field the many suggestions users have for WordPress through his blog.

8. Don’t try to create a stand-in for yourself. With all the other tasks required within your company, it’s tempting to outsource managing your social media or even to try automating the process. That can easily backfire, as Joe Pulizzi, founder of Cleveland marketing firm Junta42, learned when he tried sending automated welcome messages to new followers on Twitter. His online contacts quickly called him out for sending out what they perceived to be spam.

9. Don’t pretend to be someone else. Thanks to IP address tracking, observers can also quickly tell when company figureheads adopt fake identities for the sake of fluffing up their reputation. Not only can the practice hurt your company’s reputation, it could also land you in legal trouble. The plastic surgery Lifestyle Lift had to pay $300,000 in settlement costs to the state of New York for having its employees post flattering reviews of the company without disclosing their affiliation.

10. Help employees bond. Corporations such as IBM have built in-house networks—even virtual worlds reminiscent of Second Life—to link employees working in different locations. Small and medium-sized businesses can take advantage of readily available tools to facilitate collaboration. The Hoffman Agency, a public relations firm, uses Ning, which enables users to build custom social networks, to connect its U.S. staff with employees in Europe and Asia.

11. Reward customer loyalty. Through social media, companies can not only run promotions more frequently than coupons in the mail will permit but also devise more whimsical and engaging campaigns. Sprinkles Cupcakes, a bakery chain based in Beverly Hills, California, uses Twitter to send out daily promotional offers. The tweets, which ask customers to whisper a “password” to receive a free treat, have helped the company draw more than 17,000 followers.

12. See what people are saying about you. A quick search for mentions of your company on Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp can yield a goldmine of information concerning your reputation. Several users on Yelp, for instance, suggested that employees at Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago were less than welcoming. After reading the comments, owner Eric Kirsammer focused on improving customer service. Applications such as monitter and Trackur can help you keep track of the conversation across the Web.

13. Make amends with dissatisfied customers, quickly. Andy Carlson, owner of an Ace Hardware store in Denver, once came across an angry Twitter update from a customer who had bought a tool that broke after one use. He resolved the issue in a matter of minutes by referring the customer to an area store and notified him of Ace’s lifetime guarantee. Best of all, he was able to catch the complaint after store hours—and prevent negative word of mouth.

14. Don’t go on the defensive. A harsh rebuke of your business on sites like Yelp can not only bruise your ego but also hurt your livelihood. But resist the temptation to lash out in public. Sarah Dunbar, owner of Oakland vintage boutique Pretty Penny, privately responds to less-than-flattering reviewers and encourages them to visit her in person. And keep in mind that you can’t please everyone. After Dunbar wrote to one dissatisfied customer, the reviewer accused her of conducting “shady business” by trying to sway opinions.

15. Keep customers in the loop. Frequently on the go? Twitter can help your customers keep track of your latest destination. Kogi Korean BBQ, which operates a food cart in Los Angeles, keeps its Twitter followers constantly informed of its location on the street. The real-time updates help Kogi keep up demand, as customers line up in advance at the broadcasted locations.

16. Find potential customers. A quick keyword search can help you find prospective customers who may not be aware of your company but could nonetheless benefit from your product or service. Bob Scaglion, a senior managing director at New York real-estate management company Rose Associates, generates 100 leads per month on Twitter for his company simply by replying to users whose tweets include phrases such as “moving to New York City” and “no-fee rentals.”

17. Reach more markets. Social media can help your company reach multiple markets at a time. Restaurant chain Boloco focuses most of its advertising on Boston, which houses 13 out of its 16 locations. But as an experiment, CEO John Pepper decided to post a copy of a coupon from a local newspaper on Twitter in order to reach customers in Vermont and New Hampshire. Coupon redemptions increased by more than 150 percent as a result.

18. Target your online advertising. Both Facebook and MySpace allow businesses to run ads that attract specific groups of users based on what information they include in their profiles. By running Facebook ads targeted at students at specific colleges, StorQuest Self Storage, which has locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Hawaii, increased its number of rentals by more than half.

19. See where your customers are. A growing number of social networks are designed specifically for users on the go, and some, such as the mobile application Foursquare, offer tools specifically for businesses. Frozen dessert chain Tasti D-Lite, for instance, uses Foursquare to gather data on how many people visit its locations and send promotional offers to frequent customers.

20. Let customers help each other out. Including a customer forum on your website or social network profile can help enhance your customer service while building a sense of community. At Poolcenter.com, a swimming pool equipment retailer based in Arlington, Virginia, customers often field each other’s inquiries on swimming pool equipment before they reach customer service reps. Get Satisfaction and Fixya are two sites that offer dedicated spaces for customer service forums.

21. Build a community beyond your business. Photo hosting site SmugMug has established itself as a resource for skilled photographers in part by operating a forum, Digital Grin, where members trade advice on topics such as the best techniques for taking photos at night and capturing wedding scenes. With the exception of a support section at the very bottom, the forum is devoted to photography at large, rather than the company’s own services.

22. Let customers contribute. FrontPoint Security, a home security provider in McLean, Virginia, began collecting video testimonials from its customers, who filmed themselves with Flip cameras. The videos are posted on FrontPoint’s site and on YouTube, and even some customers’ personal blogs. FrontPoint’s video efforts have helped the company more than triple its sales leads.

23. Help others promote you. Social media can help you find passionate customers who are more than willing to spread the word about your company. Crafts supplies manufacturer Fiskars reached out to scrapbookers by inviting four avid users to blog. Its crafts community, called Fiskateers, has since attracted 5,000 users who serve as brand evangelists.

24. Cultivate relationships that lead to sales. Soon after he joined Twitter, J.R. Cohen, manager of The Coffee Groundz, a Houston coffee shop, began encouraging his followers to visit him in his shop. He began getting to know customers so well that they not only initiated conversations with him through Twitter—they began tweeting orders through the site as well. Now Cohen periodically fields menu requests through Twitter, though he doesn’t use the page primarily for that purpose.

25. But don’t promote too aggressively. While social network users have proven to be open to marketing—especially if it involves a discount—they’re not flocking to Facebook or MySpace to hear sales pitches. If your profile or blog reads like an ad, it will turn visitors away. Kent Lewis, founder of Portland online marketing firm Anvil Media, encourages Twitter users, for instance, to pass along industry news and retweet interesting items from others along with their own promotions.

26. Find ways to engage visitors offline. In March, Cinda Baxter, a retail consultant in Minneapolis, ended a blog post on local business with one simple idea: choose three businesses to support, and spend a combined amount of $50 per month. The post spurred hundreds of inquiries—enough for Baxter to build a standalone website, which has since attracted the support of more than 12,000 businesses. Baxter has used the publicity to bolster her consulting business: she now travels nationwide to advise retailers on building support within their communities.

27. Find influential people in your industry. In addition to maintaining your blog, make sure to keep your eyes open to what others in the industry are buzzing about online. Reading independent blogs and joining industry groups on Facebook and LinkedIn is a good way to join the larger conversation. Spoonflower, a fabric design site based in Mebane, North Carolina, has built its community of more than 40,000 users primarily through word of mouth on crafts blogs.

28. Boost your credibility by helping others. For service providers, establishing yourself as an expert in the field can bring in a steady stream of business. LinkedIn’s Answers feature enables business owners to do just that. Heidi Cool, a Web design consultant in Cleveland, browses LinkedIn Answers for inquiries related to her industry and spends one to two hours per week answering them. In one month, she generated 29 leads for her services directly from her responses.

29. Look for talent off the beaten path. While LinkedIn is specifically geared toward professional use, some companies have found other social networks to be effective recruiting tools as well. Jason Averbrook, CEO of the management-consulting firm Knowledge Infusion, found 19 candidates in two days for an open position simply by writing about his search in status updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Plaxo, which aggregates contact information from social networks.

30. Connect with potential partners. Because LinkedIn is designed specifically for professional networking, businesses can find a host of valuable contacts there. Josh Steinitz, CEO of NileGuide, a trip planning website based in San Francisco, used LinkedIn to find business partners by identifying companies of interest and then asking his existing contacts to provide introductions. A third of the company’s inquiries resulted in eventual partnerships.

From the Team at WebWitches

Tags: Increase traffic site Internet seo Online internet marketing Online ranking Online seo Learn SEO online SEO Course SEO for Beginners

www.webwitches.com.au

30 Tips for Using Social Media in Your Business

Wading into the fast-moving flow of social media can be daunting to a small business owner with very little time on his hands. So Inc. has boiled down 30 tips — from using social networks to generate leads to what not to say in your blog — for the time-strapped but socially curious CEO.

By April Joyner |  Jan 18, 2010

1. Offer a peek behind the scenes. Offering a sneak preview of new products, services, or features online can help build demand and provide critical feedback to help smooth the launch. For instance, John Doyle, founder of chocolate company John and Kira’s in Philadelphia, posts photos of new products on Flickr and invites comments from customers.

2. Harness your expertise. Chances are your company’s white paper won’t go viral. But sharing knowledge you’ve gathered through your trade can go a long way toward boosting your brand. Ford Models, for instance, became a YouTube sensation through a series of videos that featured its models giving beauty and fashion tips.

3. Demonstrate what your company does. Because multimedia is so integral to social media, getting connected allows you to express your company’s value proposition beyond words. To show just how powerful his company’s blenders were, Blendtec’s head of marketing, George Wright, created a series of videos showing the appliances churning up such diverse items as a rotisserie chicken, a Rubik’s Cube, and an iPhone. The series’ 100 million combined views helped boost Blendtec’s sales by 700 percent.

4. Put your website’s content to work. Want to draw more traffic to your website? Help spread the word by encouraging visitors to share content they enjoy. GotCast, a website that connects television casting directors with aspiring actors, draws new visitors by posting audition videos on Digg and allowing others to share video links on the site. One way to promote the sharing of your site’s content is to install a widget, such as AddThis, that automates linking to popular sites.

5. Be candid. In unsure economic times, transparency goes a long way toward retaining and attracting customers. Giving readers the scoop on your company blog is an easy way to keep the lines of communication open. Giacomo Guilizzoni, the founder of San Francisco software company Balsamiq, even posts sales and profit figures to show that his company is on solid financial footing.

6. But be careful what you say about others. When Leslie Richard, owner of a North Carolina clothing company, described Vision Media Television as a “scam,” she was slapped with a $20 million lawsuit. While recounting negative experiences with others won’t necessarily lead to a court battle, it’s best to steer clear of name-calling.

7. Interact with visitors—really. Just putting up a blog or a Facebook fan page won’t do much good if visitors sense the flow of conversation only goes one way. In fact, Matt Mullenweg, founder of blogging platform WordPress, lists not participating in comments as a surefire way to kill a community. Mullenweg and his team field the many suggestions users have for WordPress through his blog.

8. Don’t try to create a stand-in for yourself. With all the other tasks required within your company, it’s tempting to outsource managing your social media or even to try automating the process. That can easily backfire, as Joe Pulizzi, founder of Cleveland marketing firm Junta42, learned when he tried sending automated welcome messages to new followers on Twitter. His online contacts quickly called him out for sending out what they perceived to be spam.

9. Don’t pretend to be someone else. Thanks to IP address tracking, observers can also quickly tell when company figureheads adopt fake identities for the sake of fluffing up their reputation. Not only can the practice hurt your company’s reputation, it could also land you in legal trouble. The plastic surgery Lifestyle Lift had to pay $300,000 in settlement costs to the state of New York for having its employees post flattering reviews of the company without disclosing their affiliation.

10. Help employees bond. Corporations such as IBM have built in-house networks—even virtual worlds reminiscent of Second Life—to link employees working in different locations. Small and medium-sized businesses can take advantage of readily available tools to facilitate collaboration. The Hoffman Agency, a public relations firm, uses Ning, which enables users to build custom social networks, to connect its U.S. staff with employees in Europe and Asia.

11. Reward customer loyalty. Through social media, companies can not only run promotions more frequently than coupons in the mail will permit but also devise more whimsical and engaging campaigns. Sprinkles Cupcakes, a bakery chain based in Beverly Hills, California, uses Twitter to send out daily promotional offers. The tweets, which ask customers to whisper a “password” to receive a free treat, have helped the company draw more than 17,000 followers.

12. See what people are saying about you. A quick search for mentions of your company on Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp can yield a goldmine of information concerning your reputation. Several users on Yelp, for instance, suggested that employees at Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago were less than welcoming. After reading the comments, owner Eric Kirsammer focused on improving customer service. Applications such as monitter and Trackur can help you keep track of the conversation across the Web.

13. Make amends with dissatisfied customers, quickly. Andy Carlson, owner of an Ace Hardware store in Denver, once came across an angry Twitter update from a customer who had bought a tool that broke after one use. He resolved the issue in a matter of minutes by referring the customer to an area store and notified him of Ace’s lifetime guarantee. Best of all, he was able to catch the complaint after store hours—and prevent negative word of mouth.

14. Don’t go on the defensive. A harsh rebuke of your business on sites like Yelp can not only bruise your ego but also hurt your livelihood. But resist the temptation to lash out in public. Sarah Dunbar, owner of Oakland vintage boutique Pretty Penny, privately responds to less-than-flattering reviewers and encourages them to visit her in person. And keep in mind that you can’t please everyone. After Dunbar wrote to one dissatisfied customer, the reviewer accused her of conducting “shady business” by trying to sway opinions.

15. Keep customers in the loop. Frequently on the go? Twitter can help your customers keep track of your latest destination. Kogi Korean BBQ, which operates a food cart in Los Angeles, keeps its Twitter followers constantly informed of its location on the street. The real-time updates help Kogi keep up demand, as customers line up in advance at the broadcasted locations.

16. Find potential customers. A quick keyword search can help you find prospective customers who may not be aware of your company but could nonetheless benefit from your product or service. Bob Scaglion, a senior managing director at New York real-estate management company Rose Associates, generates 100 leads per month on Twitter for his company simply by replying to users whose tweets include phrases such as “moving to New York City” and “no-fee rentals.”

17. Reach more markets. Social media can help your company reach multiple markets at a time. Restaurant chain Boloco focuses most of its advertising on Boston, which houses 13 out of its 16 locations. But as an experiment, CEO John Pepper decided to post a copy of a coupon from a local newspaper on Twitter in order to reach customers in Vermont and New Hampshire. Coupon redemptions increased by more than 150 percent as a result.

18. Target your online advertising. Both Facebook and MySpace allow businesses to run ads that attract specific groups of users based on what information they include in their profiles. By running Facebook ads targeted at students at specific colleges, StorQuest Self Storage, which has locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Hawaii, increased its number of rentals by more than half.

19. See where your customers are. A growing number of social networks are designed specifically for users on the go, and some, such as the mobile application Foursquare, offer tools specifically for businesses. Frozen dessert chain Tasti D-Lite, for instance, uses Foursquare to gather data on how many people visit its locations and send promotional offers to frequent customers.

20. Let customers help each other out. Including a customer forum on your website or social network profile can help enhance your customer service while building a sense of community. At Poolcenter.com, a swimming pool equipment retailer based in Arlington, Virginia, customers often field each other’s inquiries on swimming pool equipment before they reach customer service reps. Get Satisfaction and Fixya are two sites that offer dedicated spaces for customer service forums.

21. Build a community beyond your business. Photo hosting site SmugMug has established itself as a resource for skilled photographers in part by operating a forum, Digital Grin, where members trade advice on topics such as the best techniques for taking photos at night and capturing wedding scenes. With the exception of a support section at the very bottom, the forum is devoted to photography at large, rather than the company’s own services.

22. Let customers contribute. FrontPoint Security, a home security provider in McLean, Virginia, began collecting video testimonials from its customers, who filmed themselves with Flip cameras. The videos are posted on FrontPoint’s site and on YouTube, and even some customers’ personal blogs. FrontPoint’s video efforts have helped the company more than triple its sales leads.

23. Help others promote you. Social media can help you find passionate customers who are more than willing to spread the word about your company. Crafts supplies manufacturer Fiskars reached out to scrapbookers by inviting four avid users to blog. Its crafts community, called Fiskateers, has since attracted 5,000 users who serve as brand evangelists.

24. Cultivate relationships that lead to sales. Soon after he joined Twitter, J.R. Cohen, manager of The Coffee Groundz, a Houston coffee shop, began encouraging his followers to visit him in his shop. He began getting to know customers so well that they not only initiated conversations with him through Twitter—they began tweeting orders through the site as well. Now Cohen periodically fields menu requests through Twitter, though he doesn’t use the page primarily for that purpose.

25. But don’t promote too aggressively. While social network users have proven to be open to marketing—especially if it involves a discount—they’re not flocking to Facebook or MySpace to hear sales pitches. If your profile or blog reads like an ad, it will turn visitors away. Kent Lewis, founder of Portland online marketing firm Anvil Media, encourages Twitter users, for instance, to pass along industry news and retweet interesting items from others along with their own promotions.

26. Find ways to engage visitors offline. In March, Cinda Baxter, a retail consultant in Minneapolis, ended a blog post on local business with one simple idea: choose three businesses to support, and spend a combined amount of $50 per month. The post spurred hundreds of inquiries—enough for Baxter to build a standalone website, which has since attracted the support of more than 12,000 businesses. Baxter has used the publicity to bolster her consulting business: she now travels nationwide to advise retailers on building support within their communities.

27. Find influential people in your industry. In addition to maintaining your blog, make sure to keep your eyes open to what others in the industry are buzzing about online. Reading independent blogs and joining industry groups on Facebook and LinkedIn is a good way to join the larger conversation. Spoonflower, a fabric design site based in Mebane, North Carolina, has built its community of more than 40,000 users primarily through word of mouth on crafts blogs.

28. Boost your credibility by helping others. For service providers, establishing yourself as an expert in the field can bring in a steady stream of business. LinkedIn’s Answers feature enables business owners to do just that. Heidi Cool, a Web design consultant in Cleveland, browses LinkedIn Answers for inquiries related to her industry and spends one to two hours per week answering them. In one month, she generated 29 leads for her services directly from her responses.

29. Look for talent off the beaten path. While LinkedIn is specifically geared toward professional use, some companies have found other social networks to be effective recruiting tools as well. Jason Averbrook, CEO of the management-consulting firm Knowledge Infusion, found 19 candidates in two days for an open position simply by writing about his search in status updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Plaxo, which aggregates contact information from social networks.

30. Connect with potential partners. Because LinkedIn is designed specifically for professional networking, businesses can find a host of valuable contacts there. Josh Steinitz, CEO of NileGuide, a trip planning website based in San Francisco, used LinkedIn to find business partners by identifying companies of interest and then asking his existing contacts to provide introductions. A third of the company’s inquiries resulted in eventual partnerships.

From the Team at WebWitches

Tags: Increase traffic site Internet seo Online internet marketing Online ranking Online seo Learn SEO online SEO Course SEO for Beginners

www.webwitches.com.au

30 Tips for Using Social Media in Your Business

Wading into the fast-moving flow of social media can be daunting to a small business owner with very little time on his hands. So Inc. has boiled down 30 tips — from using social networks to generate leads to what not to say in your blog — for the time-strapped but socially curious CEO.

By April Joyner |  Jan 18, 2010

1. Offer a peek behind the scenes. Offering a sneak preview of new products, services, or features online can help build demand and provide critical feedback to help smooth the launch. For instance, John Doyle, founder of chocolate company John and Kira’s in Philadelphia, posts photos of new products on Flickr and invites comments from customers.

2. Harness your expertise. Chances are your company’s white paper won’t go viral. But sharing knowledge you’ve gathered through your trade can go a long way toward boosting your brand. Ford Models, for instance, became a YouTube sensation through a series of videos that featured its models giving beauty and fashion tips.

3. Demonstrate what your company does. Because multimedia is so integral to social media, getting connected allows you to express your company’s value proposition beyond words. To show just how powerful his company’s blenders were, Blendtec’s head of marketing, George Wright, created a series of videos showing the appliances churning up such diverse items as a rotisserie chicken, a Rubik’s Cube, and an iPhone. The series’ 100 million combined views helped boost Blendtec’s sales by 700 percent.

4. Put your website’s content to work. Want to draw more traffic to your website? Help spread the word by encouraging visitors to share content they enjoy. GotCast, a website that connects television casting directors with aspiring actors, draws new visitors by posting audition videos on Digg and allowing others to share video links on the site. One way to promote the sharing of your site’s content is to install a widget, such as AddThis, that automates linking to popular sites.

5. Be candid. In unsure economic times, transparency goes a long way toward retaining and attracting customers. Giving readers the scoop on your company blog is an easy way to keep the lines of communication open. Giacomo Guilizzoni, the founder of San Francisco software company Balsamiq, even posts sales and profit figures to show that his company is on solid financial footing.

6. But be careful what you say about others. When Leslie Richard, owner of a North Carolina clothing company, described Vision Media Television as a “scam,” she was slapped with a $20 million lawsuit. While recounting negative experiences with others won’t necessarily lead to a court battle, it’s best to steer clear of name-calling.

7. Interact with visitors—really. Just putting up a blog or a Facebook fan page won’t do much good if visitors sense the flow of conversation only goes one way. In fact, Matt Mullenweg, founder of blogging platform WordPress, lists not participating in comments as a surefire way to kill a community. Mullenweg and his team field the many suggestions users have for WordPress through his blog.

8. Don’t try to create a stand-in for yourself. With all the other tasks required within your company, it’s tempting to outsource managing your social media or even to try automating the process. That can easily backfire, as Joe Pulizzi, founder of Cleveland marketing firm Junta42, learned when he tried sending automated welcome messages to new followers on Twitter. His online contacts quickly called him out for sending out what they perceived to be spam.

9. Don’t pretend to be someone else. Thanks to IP address tracking, observers can also quickly tell when company figureheads adopt fake identities for the sake of fluffing up their reputation. Not only can the practice hurt your company’s reputation, it could also land you in legal trouble. The plastic surgery Lifestyle Lift had to pay $300,000 in settlement costs to the state of New York for having its employees post flattering reviews of the company without disclosing their affiliation.

10. Help employees bond. Corporations such as IBM have built in-house networks—even virtual worlds reminiscent of Second Life—to link employees working in different locations. Small and medium-sized businesses can take advantage of readily available tools to facilitate collaboration. The Hoffman Agency, a public relations firm, uses Ning, which enables users to build custom social networks, to connect its U.S. staff with employees in Europe and Asia.

11. Reward customer loyalty. Through social media, companies can not only run promotions more frequently than coupons in the mail will permit but also devise more whimsical and engaging campaigns. Sprinkles Cupcakes, a bakery chain based in Beverly Hills, California, uses Twitter to send out daily promotional offers. The tweets, which ask customers to whisper a “password” to receive a free treat, have helped the company draw more than 17,000 followers.

12. See what people are saying about you. A quick search for mentions of your company on Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp can yield a goldmine of information concerning your reputation. Several users on Yelp, for instance, suggested that employees at Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago were less than welcoming. After reading the comments, owner Eric Kirsammer focused on improving customer service. Applications such as monitter and Trackur can help you keep track of the conversation across the Web.

13. Make amends with dissatisfied customers, quickly. Andy Carlson, owner of an Ace Hardware store in Denver, once came across an angry Twitter update from a customer who had bought a tool that broke after one use. He resolved the issue in a matter of minutes by referring the customer to an area store and notified him of Ace’s lifetime guarantee. Best of all, he was able to catch the complaint after store hours—and prevent negative word of mouth.

14. Don’t go on the defensive. A harsh rebuke of your business on sites like Yelp can not only bruise your ego but also hurt your livelihood. But resist the temptation to lash out in public. Sarah Dunbar, owner of Oakland vintage boutique Pretty Penny, privately responds to less-than-flattering reviewers and encourages them to visit her in person. And keep in mind that you can’t please everyone. After Dunbar wrote to one dissatisfied customer, the reviewer accused her of conducting “shady business” by trying to sway opinions.

15. Keep customers in the loop. Frequently on the go? Twitter can help your customers keep track of your latest destination. Kogi Korean BBQ, which operates a food cart in Los Angeles, keeps its Twitter followers constantly informed of its location on the street. The real-time updates help Kogi keep up demand, as customers line up in advance at the broadcasted locations.

16. Find potential customers. A quick keyword search can help you find prospective customers who may not be aware of your company but could nonetheless benefit from your product or service. Bob Scaglion, a senior managing director at New York real-estate management company Rose Associates, generates 100 leads per month on Twitter for his company simply by replying to users whose tweets include phrases such as “moving to New York City” and “no-fee rentals.”

17. Reach more markets. Social media can help your company reach multiple markets at a time. Restaurant chain Boloco focuses most of its advertising on Boston, which houses 13 out of its 16 locations. But as an experiment, CEO John Pepper decided to post a copy of a coupon from a local newspaper on Twitter in order to reach customers in Vermont and New Hampshire. Coupon redemptions increased by more than 150 percent as a result.

18. Target your online advertising. Both Facebook and MySpace allow businesses to run ads that attract specific groups of users based on what information they include in their profiles. By running Facebook ads targeted at students at specific colleges, StorQuest Self Storage, which has locations in Arizona, California, Colorado, and Hawaii, increased its number of rentals by more than half.

19. See where your customers are. A growing number of social networks are designed specifically for users on the go, and some, such as the mobile application Foursquare, offer tools specifically for businesses. Frozen dessert chain Tasti D-Lite, for instance, uses Foursquare to gather data on how many people visit its locations and send promotional offers to frequent customers.

20. Let customers help each other out. Including a customer forum on your website or social network profile can help enhance your customer service while building a sense of community. At Poolcenter.com, a swimming pool equipment retailer based in Arlington, Virginia, customers often field each other’s inquiries on swimming pool equipment before they reach customer service reps. Get Satisfaction and Fixya are two sites that offer dedicated spaces for customer service forums.

21. Build a community beyond your business. Photo hosting site SmugMug has established itself as a resource for skilled photographers in part by operating a forum, Digital Grin, where members trade advice on topics such as the best techniques for taking photos at night and capturing wedding scenes. With the exception of a support section at the very bottom, the forum is devoted to photography at large, rather than the company’s own services.

22. Let customers contribute. FrontPoint Security, a home security provider in McLean, Virginia, began collecting video testimonials from its customers, who filmed themselves with Flip cameras. The videos are posted on FrontPoint’s site and on YouTube, and even some customers’ personal blogs. FrontPoint’s video efforts have helped the company more than triple its sales leads.

23. Help others promote you. Social media can help you find passionate customers who are more than willing to spread the word about your company. Crafts supplies manufacturer Fiskars reached out to scrapbookers by inviting four avid users to blog. Its crafts community, called Fiskateers, has since attracted 5,000 users who serve as brand evangelists.

24. Cultivate relationships that lead to sales. Soon after he joined Twitter, J.R. Cohen, manager of The Coffee Groundz, a Houston coffee shop, began encouraging his followers to visit him in his shop. He began getting to know customers so well that they not only initiated conversations with him through Twitter—they began tweeting orders through the site as well. Now Cohen periodically fields menu requests through Twitter, though he doesn’t use the page primarily for that purpose.

25. But don’t promote too aggressively. While social network users have proven to be open to marketing—especially if it involves a discount—they’re not flocking to Facebook or MySpace to hear sales pitches. If your profile or blog reads like an ad, it will turn visitors away. Kent Lewis, founder of Portland online marketing firm Anvil Media, encourages Twitter users, for instance, to pass along industry news and retweet interesting items from others along with their own promotions.

26. Find ways to engage visitors offline. In March, Cinda Baxter, a retail consultant in Minneapolis, ended a blog post on local business with one simple idea: choose three businesses to support, and spend a combined amount of $50 per month. The post spurred hundreds of inquiries—enough for Baxter to build a standalone website, which has since attracted the support of more than 12,000 businesses. Baxter has used the publicity to bolster her consulting business: she now travels nationwide to advise retailers on building support within their communities.

27. Find influential people in your industry. In addition to maintaining your blog, make sure to keep your eyes open to what others in the industry are buzzing about online. Reading independent blogs and joining industry groups on Facebook and LinkedIn is a good way to join the larger conversation. Spoonflower, a fabric design site based in Mebane, North Carolina, has built its community of more than 40,000 users primarily through word of mouth on crafts blogs.

28. Boost your credibility by helping others. For service providers, establishing yourself as an expert in the field can bring in a steady stream of business. LinkedIn’s Answers feature enables business owners to do just that. Heidi Cool, a Web design consultant in Cleveland, browses LinkedIn Answers for inquiries related to her industry and spends one to two hours per week answering them. In one month, she generated 29 leads for her services directly from her responses.

29. Look for talent off the beaten path. While LinkedIn is specifically geared toward professional use, some companies have found other social networks to be effective recruiting tools as well. Jason Averbrook, CEO of the management-consulting firm Knowledge Infusion, found 19 candidates in two days for an open position simply by writing about his search in status updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Plaxo, which aggregates contact information from social networks.

30. Connect with potential partners. Because LinkedIn is designed specifically for professional networking, businesses can find a host of valuable contacts there. Josh Steinitz, CEO of NileGuide, a trip planning website based in San Francisco, used LinkedIn to find business partners by identifying companies of interest and then asking his existing contacts to provide introductions. A third of the company’s inquiries resulted in eventual partnerships.

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online news imageThe news media is experiencing a renaissance. As we end the year, its state in 2009 can be summarized as a year of turmoil, layoffs and cutbacks in an industry desperately seeking to reinvent its business model and content. But despite the thousands of journalism jobs lost, the future has much hope and opportunity for those that are willing to adapt to a changing industry.

Much of that change is happening now. And in the coming year, news organizations will look to approach monetization and content experimentation that is focused on looking at the web in a new way. Newsnewsnews

in 2010 will blur the lines between audience and creator more than ever in an era of social media. Below is a look at several trends in content distribution and presentation that we will likely see more of in 2010.

1. Living Stories

Living Stories Image

One of the difficulties of the web is being able to really track a story as it develops and creating engaging formats for long-form articles. The article page is often the only thing that a reader sees and not the story in its full context. In 2010, news organizations will design stories that are more suited to the way readers consume online content.

One early sign of this is the recent collaboration between GoogleGoogleGoogle

, The New York Times, and The Washington Post on the Living Stories project, an experiment that presents coverage of a specific story or topic in one place, making it easy to navigate the topic and see the timeline of coverage on the story. It also allows you to get a summary of the story and track the conversations taking place. This format contextualizes and personalizes the news.

2. Real-Time News Streams

Our news consumption has morphed into a collection of streams. Whether it’s from our TwitterTwitterTwitter

homepage or an RSS reader or a FacebookFacebookFacebook

feed, we get bites of information that sometimes satisfy us or direct us to places where we can get more information.

The move toward real-time news is increasingly important, and media critics and professors like Jeff Jarvis predict these streams will replace web sites. That change may not come in 2010, but streaming news elements will become a an integral part of traditional news sources. We’re already seeing Twitter streams and other visualizations incorporated into news home pages with updated financial and market information from new sources like Google Finance.

The challenge however, is that journalists need to accept that news breaks through real-time social media platforms like Twitter, said Alfred Hermida, an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia School of Journalism.

3. Blogozines

blogozine image

Another format that takes effort, but can be an engaging alternative to the traditional blog post is the blogozine. This could be great to keep a reader engaged in a long-form story. Though I don’t think we will see the death of simple blog posts, a rich-media and rich-layout approach from blogozines will gain momentum in 2010.

4. Distributed Social News

This year the social news trend gained momentum with the explosion of Twitter. Moving into 2010, news organizations will further distribute their content across social platforms that allow its users to create a personalized and socialized news stream. Personalized search has emerged in 2009, and 2010 will see more sites integrating applications that allow users to create personalized news streams.

More news organizations are beginning to establish a presence across multiple platforms and social sites, and it’s not just the popular sites like Twitter and Facebook anymore. Newsweek, for example, started a Tumblog because the “format is adapted especially well to magazine journalism, since it encourages a deeper engagement.”

Robert Quigley, social media editor at the Austin American-Statesman, said he thinks news sites will continue to exist for a while, but the “smart news sites will extend their tentacles into the spaces where people are communicating, and talking about news.”

5. News Goes Mobile

Globe and Mail Mobile Image

In general, 2010 will see a distinct transformation in the way people consume news as smart phones become ubiquitous. And as more startups enter the market of mobile transactions, news organizations could develop strategies or provide services for transactions to take place on mobile apps.

News companies should be prepared with a mobile-first strategy. Instead of just selling ads to business customers, news organizations can help small businesses develop applications that help them do business in the mobile marketplace, said Steve Buttry, C3 coach at Gazette Communications.

Mathew Ingram, communities editor at The Globe and Mail, said mobile also has great potential to increase the number of content consumers, especially if it is done in a geo-targeted way to reach a local audience. Something that news organizations should also be prepared for is e-readers gaining a larger market and the emergence of the Apple Tablet, which publishers like Wired Magazine are already getting ready for. Meanwhile, Time Inc. and other magazine publishers are looking to create a Hulu for magazines where consumers can purchase and manage digital subscriptions.

6. The Year of Geo-Location

Geo-location services will be the buzz of 2010, though it’s difficult to predict which services will rise to the top. Geo-tweets could take this space, but companies like FoursquareFoursquareFoursquare

and GowallaGowallaGowalla

, which combine geo-location with social gaming, are highly addictive and have a lot of potential, especially with an advertising format that serves its users.

Mathilde Piard, social media manager at Cox Newspapers, said there is a lot of potential for news sites to get into the market of events and venue listings. “There are event listings and business directory listings out there but none that are good enough yet,” Piard said, and “Geo-tagging goes hand-in-hand with this stuff.”

Also, imagine the opportunity for news companies to work with advertisers to make ads more relevant to location. Imagine an iPhone app that buzzes when you walk by a bar telling you the daily drink special, Quigley from the Statesman said.

7. Story-Streaming

The 3six5 Image

New storytellers means new ways of telling stories. We will see more story-streaming with the growing popularity of simple blogging platforms like PosterousPosterousPosterous

and TumblrTumblrTumblr

.

An example of this is a project from Daniel Honigman and Len Kendall called the3six5, which aims to get 365 people – one for each day of the year – to write about something that is happening in the world that day and how it relates to them. Though neither Honigman or Kendall are journalists, the storytelling format of life streaming is what attracted the two to start the project. Honigman said it is an experiment in crowdsourced storytelling.

8. Social TV Online

2010 will see some big improvements in online video and even greater shifts of viewers moving away from their TVs to watch online as companies like Hulu and others reinvent the space. The coming year could see sites like HuluHuluHulu

becoming profitable, and even extending to international markets to increase viewership.

We’ve seen TV shows like PBS’s News Hour moving to YouTube, and 2010 will see an increased push for TV to reinvent itself online. One way of doing this is through “social TV.” Hulu, for example, lets Facebook friends watch shows together, and has account, rating, and sharing elements akin to social giant YouTubeYouTubeYouTube

. We’ll see social TV take center stage in 2010.

9. Marketers as Producers

Winning the Web image

Marketers are also beginning to skip the journalist as a middleman to produce their message and are instead producing it themselves. Mike Sprouse, chief marketing officer at Epic Advertising, started a 28-page monthly (printed) magazine called Winning the Web. The magazine includes commentary and content on emerging trends in online marketing, and is produced by just two people working full-time. It’s distributed to about 3,000 people and is completely free.

Sprouse sees more marketers and other professionals in general moving into the direction of producing content themselves. He said most companies have a blog or a Facebook page, and going into the coming year, more companies will shift to produce content themselves in a “thought leadership” approach.

10. Social News Gaming

Chuck Me Out Image

With social gaming sites growing in popularity (Facebook’s Farmville is bigger than Twitter), news media companies will surely experiment with creating their own social news gaming applications. Social gaming is highly addictive and if a news organization were to effectively execute their own game, it could serve as a way to keep news consumers coming back and a way to present stories or information in new ways.

NBC introduced a social media game for its series “Chuck” called Chuck Me Out that lets users gain points for spreading news about the show or getting friends to watch it. The person with the most points by March 8 will have their photo appear on the show or win one of another several prizes. Perhaps a similar concept could be applied to news content in 2010.

More journalism resources from Mashable:

8 Must-Have Traits of Tomorrow’s Journalist
10 Ways Journalism Schools Are Teaching Social Media
The Journalist’s Guide to Twitter
Why NPR is the Future of Mainstream Media
Social Journalism: Past, Present, and Future
Everything I Need to Know About Twitter I learned in J School
10 Must-Haves for Your Social Media Policy

Image courtesy of iStockphotoiStockphotoiStockphoto

, ProfessorVasilich

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SEO Internet Market research firm witnesses Google Caffeine Real Time search update and expects big surge in Social Media marketing.

Online PR News – 26-December-2009 – SEO Internet Marketing firm Irbtrax observes preview of Google Caffeine ‘Real Time’ search results and the increased emphasis on Social Media Marketing that will result when Caffeine is fully launched after the holidays. Caffeine is the most comprehensive Google Search Engine application since 2006, and clearly places a greater emphasis on Social Media sites like Twitter, as well as newsworthy Blogs.

According to Irbtrax founder Scott Moir-

“There is no doubt we’ll see a new surge in the use of Social Media Marketing once Caffeine is fully launched. I expect many online businesses to quickly turn their focus toward becoming Social Media savvy, creating a great opportunity for Social Media experts to ply their trade.”

There is no doubt we’ll see a new surge in the use of Social Media Marketing once Caffeine is fully launched. I expect many online businesses to quickly turn their focus toward becoming Social Media savvy, creating a great opportunity for Social Media experts to ply their trade.

For a detailed outline of important changes Caffeine is expected to have on websites and their related Internet Marketing efforts visit:

http://jazzou.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=211&Itemid=40

Irbtrax is currently negotiating with several Social Media marketing firms to develop a mutually beneficial business relationship, because SEO Internet Marketing and SoMed can play a combined role in enhancing user/client experience and results.

For a glimpse of how SEO Internet Marketing can benefit Social Media visit:

http://www.onlineprnews.com/news/15684-1261676122-test-shows-websites-not-optimized-to-benefit-from-google-caffeine.html

About: Irbtrax.com provides specialized Internet Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and Market Research Solutions for business’s seeking a competitive advantage. Including optimizing your Web Marketing efforts for Google Caffeine. After all, being cutting edge is good, but being leading edge is far better.

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Social media caught fire with mainstream audiences this year. Despite the economic recession, sites like Twitter and Facebook saw tremendous growth. There were lots of mistakes and successes along the way.

My top ten most memorable social media moments for the past year are:

The Hudson plane crash update was the tweet heard across the country. Sarasota resident Janis Krums snapped and tweeted a photo of the miracle landing of a plane into the Hudson River: “There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.”

The Iran election protests organized on Twitter showed people the power of citizen reporting. Citizens of Iran used the medium to organize and report on Iran’s presidential election protests, and U.S. residents used social media sites to successfully lobby for increased news coverage of the protests. The U.S. State Department even stepped in to ask Twitter to delay a planned upgrade to allow Iranians to continue reporting what was happening.

The dumbest Tweet of the year, a communications flub, ironically came from an executive of a slick New York City public relations firm. A vice president of Ketchum dumped on Memphis, the hometown of a major client, Federal Express, before meeting with the company, BNET reported. He tweeted, “True confession but I’m in one of those towns where I scratch my head and say ‘I would die if I had to live here!'” He and his company later apologized..

The most damaging Facebook post came from a girl who complained about her boss, whom she had friended. He fired her in a reply to her comment, according to the message exchange posted at nextweb.com. Come on, people. Think twice before posting.

An amateur singer got more than 100 million views on YouTube, landing her a top-selling album. YouTube helped thrust Susan Boyle, an unemployed church volunteer, into the limelight with a video of her singing on Britain’s Got Talent. Jill and Kevin Heinz found YouTube fame as well when their walk down the aisle in a St. Paul Minn. church turned into a dance led by their enthusiastic wedding party.

The movie “Paranormal Activity” became the first film to get a national release after people demanded the movie through Twitter and Facebook. The horror movie, produced for $15,000, grossed more than $62 million as of October.

Google includes real-time search results that pick up social media posts. As more people turn to social media sites for breaking news, Google announced on YouTube this month that it will include them in their search results.

Zynga, maker of social media games ” Mafia Wars” and “FarmVille,” was valued at $1 billion, according to Bloomberg.

After a highly publicized race with CNN, Actor Ashton Kutcher became the first Tweeter to collect 1 million followers. Kutcher crossed the 1 million mark on April 17 narrowly beating CNN’s breaking-news feed, which had 998,239 followers at the time. He later told Larry King, “We now live in an age in media that a single voice can have as much power and relevance on the Web, that is, as an entire media network.”

What’s number 10, you ask? A Facebook friend request from my cyber phobic mother was the most memorable social media moment to me.

Seth Liss is SunSentinel.com’s News Community Manager. You may reach him at sliss@sun-sentinel.com.

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socialsundayplain

It was quite a year for the revolution that is Twitter, Facebook & Co., so sOCial sunday asked some of our pals what they thought was their social media highlight of 2009 …

  1. “Watching Google and Bing scramble over how to get and implement social media tweets and updates into search. They’ve really jumped to try and figure things out.” – Danny Sullivan, SearchEngineLand.com
  2. “Use of social media in recent popular protests in Iran. It showed the power and resilience of social media to organize and to resist central control. It is both powerful and dangerous — depending on which side you end up on.” – Don Patterson, quub.com
  3. “Twitter as a news ticker. Some of the biggest news stories — accurate and inaccurate — broke on Twitter. That mainstreamed it and made other services like Facebook emulate it.” – Marisa O’Neil, OC Parks
  4. “The rise of Twitter from plaything of the uber-nerd to the biggest story in American media. It shows the influence the technology/web world has on the culture now.” – Jim McCarthy, Goldstar
  5. “The amazing engagement that we have seen with each of our social campaigns. There hasn’t been one flop to-date and every campaign has generated a lot of buzz, some industry attention and tons of engagement.” – Tracy Marks, Souplantation
  6. “San Diego ReBar (social media training) camp. We strictly marketed it using Twitter, Facebook and a blog. It sold out in 60 days. Let me know that Sociall Media had hit the mainstream.” – Jim Marks, Virtual Results
  7. “New rules on disclosure from the FTC. This will help trustworthy and ethical social-marketers and will help to eliminate the unethical who are out to trick and scam people.” – Mirna Bard, NuReach Global
  8. “Little Facebook app called FBML which lets you add and create customizable pages to your Facebook Fan page.” – Jen Dwyer, thecutekid.com
  9. “How Twitter and Facebook, while still far from perfect, became useful business tools for the social media-savvy.” – Sree Sreenivasan, Columbia U.
  10. “Hosting enthusiastically received Gov 2.0 series with participation of 200 people in Orange County and reach of more than 400,000 impressions nationally — and even worldwide.” – Ted Nguyen, Orange County Transportation Authority
  11. “Hands down, the death of Michael Jackson. While traditional media outlets were scrambling to confirm the news, it had already spread like wild fire through the Twittersphere.” – Rochelle Veturis, LPA architects
  12. “For Twitter to become the media darling of the year. It swept mainstream media, Hollywood.” – Charles Harris, Coast2Coast Experts
  13. “Finding ways to use Twitter effectively. Mall of America giving parking updates; stores giving limited time discounts via Twitter, “contests” via Twitter.” – Chip Ahlswede, RegalStrategies.com
  14. “Dave Carroll’s United Breaks Guitars demonstrated how (1) power has shifted from those who can afford to pay for media distribution to those whom can create it and (2) that corporations lost control of their brands.” – Ron Ploof, ronamok.com
  15. “140 conference in LA, OC Twestival. Both allowed me to meet a tremendous amount of new, great connections.” – Justin Moore-Brown, Mobo Media
  16. “Twitter revolutionized my world. I connected with many new friends on Twitter around the world. My friends are from every conceivable walk of life, from CEO’s to nurses, college professors to artists.” – Carol Lee, Surterre Properties
  17. “Google’s product releases as a whole. Voice; the Droid phone — Android OS, Verizon’s network, Motorola hardware; Chrome browser; Chrome OS; Wave; etc. And lots of little improvements to existing products.” – Mark Davidson, Shift+One

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popcornChances are you’re going to find yourself with some down-time over the holidays. Sure, you could go for a jog/swim/insert other energetic activity but let’s face it, after all that turkey and egg nog what you’ll really fancy is a semi-snooze on the sofa as you strain to watch some TV over your bloated belly.

Ever at your service, we’ve pulled together a list of what we consider are ten great geek films. We’ve left out anything adapted from a video game (they are almost all universally rubbish anyhow) and anything featuring robots, Vulcans, Jedis, and Keanu Reeves as too obvious to waste space on the list, focusing instead on computer-related flicks.

So, without further preamble, here are 10 great movies to geek out to over the holidays – so grab your popcorn and enjoy.

1. Pirates of Silicon Valley

Tom and Jerry, Popeye and Pluto, Steve and Bill. The duo that changed the computer industry forever are pitched against each other here in a made-for-TV movie following their intertwined early years. Enjoy Woz and be sure to look out for a young Steve Ballmer.

2. The Net

Gibson-gulping, pizza-eating Sandra Bullock wishes she never hit control and shift in this cinematic outing that sees her identity stolen by the evil digital elite as she uncovers a plot as improbable as her casting.

3. Hackers

“Their only crime was curiosity.” Well, that and really bad hair. Offering up a rad baddie that rides a skateboard despite being middle-aged, the prevalence of floppy disks in the film alone will make you nostalgic for the days of dial-up.

4. Wargames

Lovable nerd Matthew Broderick nearly starts World War III in this geek classic that sees his teenage hacker taking on WOPR, NORAD’s supercomputer, in a “game” involving nuclear missiles and the potential annihilation of the planet.

5. MacHeads

“I’ve never knowingly slept with a Windows user.” For some an operating system is a tool, for others it’s a way of life. This documentary follows the latter. Compelling, whether or not you subscribe to the cult of Mac.

6. Sneakers

Geek cinema goes all-star with this hacker slash conspiracy flick that features, among others Robert Redford, River Pheonix and Dan Akroyd as just a few of the stars discovering secrets about a “black box” they think the NSA has hired them to retrieve. Needless to say, all is not as it seems.

7. Antitrust

Tim Robbins takes a thinly-veiled turn as a sinister Gates figure heading up the NURV corporation where idealistic programmer Ryan Phillipe gets hired after college. If you like your geeks glossy and your plots full of holes, then this one’s for you.

8. Electric Dreams

So Eighties it’s almost painful to watch at times, Electric Dreams offers a plethora of gadgets from the decade as well as a self-aware “Pinecone” PC that forms one point of a love triangle. Will the geek get the girl? You’ll have to watch it to find out…

9. The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes

We’re taking you back a ways with this 1969 movie that sees a very young Kurt Russell get an electrifying experience that gives him the brain of a computer, hence the tennis shoes reference of the clumsy title. The tech is sooo dated, it’s a little like a history lesson too.

10. Office Space

We’ve saved the best for last. A cult classic, Office Space’s geek credentials come from the plot line that sees disenfranchised cubicle-dwellers create a virus-like snippet of software to rip off the company for a bunch of money, but the whole show is stolen beautifully by Milton and his attachment to his red stapler.

BONUS: Primer

Impressive for its measly $7,000 budget, this recent cult classic follows a mind-bending story about a group of hackers who accidentally build a time machine. It’s so confusing it’s sure to make you wish you could go back in time yourself and ask Santa for the foresight never to try to understand how the plot of this head scratcher works.

Image courtesy of iStockphotoiStockphotoiStockphoto

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