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Social Media Start-Up Shopping Spree

Facebook and Twitter, the social media powerhouse platforms have had their fair share of shopping this year.  Both companies have been avidly growing their businesses by purchasing smaller start-ups, acquiring their software and employees, in a race of social media success.  Like any shopping spree, apps like Instagram were bloody battles. 

Facebook’s Steals

Facebook has been acquiring other businesses since 2005, with their first purchase of the domain name, facebook.com, for $200,000 from AboutFace.  In 2009, Facebook purchased FriendFeed, a social networking aggregator from Mountain View, CA for $47.5 million.  Pennies, compared to Facebook’s prized win of Instagram for $1 billion, and the company’s most recent offer to SnapChat for $3 billion.  

Along with gaining valuable software and information to grow Facebook’s business practices and audiences, employees have been a big factor in Facebook’s buying spree.  Some of the talent includes Blake Ross, a software develop and co-creator of Mozilla Firefox (hired 2007; left 2013), Joe Hewitt, creator of Facebook’s iPhone app (Hired 2007; left 2011), and Paul Buchheit, Gmail developer and FriendFeed founder.  Zuckerberg spoke with Business Insider stating, “We have not once bought a company for the company… we buy companies to get excellent people”.  

Twitter’s Bargains

Although Twitter has nearly half the acquisitions as Facebook, they microblogging social media platform has gotten some great finds.  Twitter’s bought businesses mainly to help run the platform better, such a social software developments, location information engines, social analytics software, and social sharing and discover software.  Twitter’s most popular purchases have been Vine, the microvideo sharing platform; Trenderr, and MoPub.  MoPub was Twitter’s latest grab on September 9th, 2013 for a mere $350,000,000.  

Flashback to 2012: Bids for Instagram 

Proof that money talks and bridges burn; Facebook out bid Twitter for Instagram, the popular picture-sharing app, in 2012 by almost doubling the offer.  Twitter reportedly offered $525 million to Instagram, in cash and stock in March of 2012, only three weeks before Zuckerberg made Facebook’s $1 billion offer.  Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, was accused of verbally accepting Twitter’s offer, then backed out, stating “he wanted to keep the company independent” (Business Insider).  Systrom, a previous employee of Google’s mergers and acquisitions department, claimed no such deal was made between Twitter and Instagram.  

Conclusion

Facebook and Twitter have not seen the last of each other in the social media competition.  This  will be a triathlon of not only acquiring smaller businesses, but the continued pursuit of more users, larger revenues, and stock prices.  This rivalry will be one fought on and offline.  

Filed under Social media facebook Twitter instrgram MoPub Trenderr black friday business insider start-up start up FriendFeed gmail google

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Facebook Doesn’t Win Snapchat

There are a lot of things I would do for $3 billion, but I guess Snapchat is holding out for more money after declining Facebook’s offer the other day.  The question may be asked, why does Facebook want Snapchat so badly?  Snapchat is a free to download and free of ads, which is not a popular combination these days.  So what’s so special about this time-limited picture sharing service? 

1) Marketing Potential

Snapchat sends picture-messages to a users friends for a maximum of ten seconds, then the picture is wiped away.  An update of the app also notifies the sender when or if someone who received their Snapchat has taken a screen shot of the image.  What if a company, say Coke, could send Snapchat users a 10 second video or image?  What if Gap sent it’s Snapchat friends coupon codes via Snapchat?  After 10 seconds, the image is wiped away!  Think of the marketing potential!  

2) Competition

Snapchat is attracting Facebook’s major target audience.  How would you like it if your friends stopped visiting you and went to someone else’s party?  I don’t think you’d like that very much.  Right now, Facebook wants to keep it’s strong hold on young teens and will attempt to acquire any other business that stands in their way. 

Conclusion

Facebook is beginning to lose it’s target audience to other competitors.  With Facebook making it’s revenues from ad sales and clicks, it cannot afford to lose it’s audience to anyone.  This is why Facebook is trying to rush to the altar with any new information sharing, social network these days.  We cannot blame Facebook though, Snapchat has a lot of potential in it’s design, and Facebook has the money and know-how to turn Snapchat into a money-making-machine.  

Filed under facebook Social media

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SEO’s influence on Black Friday & Cyber Monday Shopping

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Halloween has come and gone, and as we clean up the fake spider webs off our front porch, catch a glimpse of our smeared costume makeup in the mirror, and have just one more piece of candy, I realized: Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just around the corner.  Let the shopping commence!


As the largest shopping holidays of the year, Black Friday historically gives the economy a jump start by beginning the holiday season earlier.  Last year, Cyber Monday was extended by many retailers for the entire week to boost sales online.  However, sale increases from the shopping days over the past few years have not had the economic impact many retailers were expecting.  What will be the difference in 2013?  I think Cyber Monday will take-over the shopping extravaganza this year for companies that focus on their social media marketing efforts as well as their paid search and search engine optimization efforts.  


SEO for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Who really cuts coupons anymore?  With the speed and ease of the world wide web, more and more consumers will be searching for their Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals online.  It will be crucial for retailers looking to increase profits from previous years and hold them over for the holiday season to place a strong focus over the next month on their SEO.  Cyber Monday last year was historically the highest online shopping day, with a 30.3 percent increase from 2011.  


Businesses looking to capitalize on Black Friday and Cyber Monday consumers will be using SEO techniques to drive consumers to their website.  However, by starting earlier than later, companies will be able to capture some consumers by getting them to sign up for email newsletters to get those extra promo codes and coupons for the shopping holidays.  Retailers should also place a large focus on mobile apps and mobile friendly webpages, so consumers can search on the go (probably during Black Friday) to make comparisons on products online while they’re in the store.  


Cyber Monday v. Black Friday; who will win the most $$

Typically, Black Friday shoppers spend more than Cyber Monday shoppers, but are we starting to see a shift in the purchasing power of online stores?  Many popular online-retailers don’t even have a brick and mortar shop anymore, like ModCloth.  They rely solely on their SEO and social media advertising to sell their clothes and trinkets to young women.  Especially with Cyber Monday now being extended for an entire week with some retailers, like Amazon.com, the economic impact of Cyber Monday could easily surpass the traditional Black Friday stampedes.  


Also, with search engines being a popular means of comparing apples to apples, or one new laptop to another, online sales for Cyber Monday are bound to come up in consumers’ research.  Ranking on a Google search page may make all the difference in the world to competitors at this point.  


Conclusion

As we enter into the shopping season, pay attention to how businesses are catching your attention and why you’re shopping at one place rather than another.  Cyber Monday and Black Friday successes will be strongly based on retailer’s SEO and social media practices.  

And who knows? I think it would be a good thing to shop from the safety of my home rather than face the cart-running crazy mom’s at Target this year. 

Filed under cyber monday black friday SEO Social media social media marketing search engine optimization search engine marketing shopping

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Fantasy Job Hunting Pt. 2: How To Do an Interview Right

"What would you say is your top two personality traits that makes you fit for this job?"


Well, I’m extremely ambitious and goal-oriented.  As you can see, I haven’t even begun my senior year of college yet, and I’m already applying for positions that I am interested in at companies I want to work for in the future. I set goals for myself in order to plan ahead, be as prepared as possible, challenge myself daily, and gain satisfaction with myself when I eventually achieve those goals.  I have set my goal to work for your company, so instead of me waiting for the spring to tell you that I am interested in YOU, I wanted to tell you now. 

THAT is true.  I did a few job interviews this past week with a few companies I am interested in working for after I graduate.  How did I get these interviews you may ask? 

Well, I applied.  Wishful thinking on my part, I guess.  I probably got somewhere around 10 interview offers from my fantasy job hunting expedition on Sunday.  I only answered three.  

Why three, Olia? 

Not to sound cocky, but I know what I want to do, and it’s not selling insurance, or senior living facilities.  (No offense to anyone who does that, or if that’s your dream job.  It’s just not for me.)

So from on college kid to anyone searching for a job right now, let’s talk about that ugly thing you don’t want to face: YOUR PERSONAL BRAND

Seriously y’all, this is important.  We’re going to talk about some interviewing skills and tips: 

1. Show up on time. 

On time is not when the interview starts.  On time is 15 minutes before the interview starts.  You want to appear to be prompt and ready.  You’ll be waiting, yes, but it makes you look like you want that job.  While you’re sitting waiting for someone to call your name like your at the doctor’s office, relax (but not too much).  Sit with good posture, don’t be fiddling with your cell phone, maybe have a newspaper, or a notepad.  I like having a notepad so I can go over my notes before an interview.  Also, ladies, don’t cross your legs, especially if you’re wearing a skirt, cross your ankles instead. 

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2. Wear a suit (unless they tell you not to). 

Both interviews I went to explicitly told me while scheduling my interview to dress in business professional.  I was taught by etiquette coaches and my business school advisors, that business professional meant a suit.  Also, my father, a business professional for the past 20 years, told me to ALWAYS wear a suit to an interview, unless you’re told not to.  

When I interviewed for Live Nation Entertainment, I wore a suit.  They wear jeans in the office everyday… and I wore a suit to my interview.  ALWAYS WEAR A SUIT TO AN INTERVIEW.  I cannot say this enough. 

Y’all, I’ve got to be real with you.  I was the ONLY one at both interviews wearing a suit.  If you don’t look nicer than the person who is interviewing you, you’re doing it wrong.  I don’t want to sit here and toot my own horn, but everyone else needed to step their game up compared to me in dress yesterday.  One girl, quite largely chested was wearing a dress that completely exposed WAY too much cleavage.  UNACCEPTABLE.  If I had been interviewing her, I would have been way to distracted in what she was saying.  

Here is a great graphic on the difference between business PROFESSIONAL and business CASUAL:

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3. Be well groomed.

This is also explained in the graphic above a bit, but I wanted to say it again.  Guys, shave your face.  You should be clean-shaven, have styled your hair in some manner, and obviously, not smell of your morning workout.  Ladies, shave your legs, style your hair out of your face, and don’t wear too much make-up.  Look natural, cool, calm, and collected. 

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4. Have extra copies of your resume. 

This is a simple one.  They ask you to bring a copy of your resume, bring two.  They ask you to bring two copies, bring three.  You never know when you may need it.  

5. Give them your business card. 

Simply, it looks good to have a business card, even if it’s one that you made yourself on your printer at home with business card stock.  You don’t have to be some crazy awesome graphic designer to make a professional looking business card.  

Personally, my business card, resume, and website all use the same fonts, colors, and contact information.  It matches, goes together, and makes me just a little more memorable than other candidates.  This is how I represent myself and my brand.  

Give it to them on your way out, when you’re shaking their hand good-bye and you’re thanking them for calling you into the interview.  It’s a nice gesture and it leaves them with a memento from you. 

6. Smile and have good eye contact. 

Don’t be a creeper, but be sociable.  The companies I was interviewing with are both extremely passionate about relationship-based marketing.  So I knew that wanted to see someone who is or potentially could be great at quickly building a relationship with another person.  

As Tyra Banks likes to say, SMIZE.  It’s really easy actually, if you can wiggle your ears, you can definitely smize.  It makes you look interested and happy to be there without creeping out the interviewer.  

7. Give a firm handshake. 

Research shows that a firm handshake is the KEY to interview success. 

"…we found that the first impression begins with a handshake that sets the tone for the rest of the interview."

"Students with ‘wimpy’ shakes were judged to be more timid and less impressive."

"…students who scored high with handshake raters were also considered to be the most hirable by the interviewers."

Source: DailyMail News

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8. Don’t be afraid to laugh. 

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Again, don’t be creepy about it. A giggle here and there (when appropriate) makes you seem personable.  Don’t fake it either.  If they try to make a joke, and you don’t think it’s really that funny, just smile.  It’s much easier to fake a smile than fake a laugh. 

9. Send a thank you note or email. 

This is something that has been lost on our generation. It’s polite, and it puts  you back in their minds after the interview.  Here’s a great example of a thank-you note, and trust me, if you’re not writing one, you can bet someone else who interviewed for the same position sure as hell did. 

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10. Connect on LinkedIn.

This is a tricky one. You can do a few different things here. You should always follow the company on LinkedIn, but you could also send an connection invitation to the interviewer as well.  I would wait a few days before the invitation is sent, but you should follow the business itself on LinkedIn before your interview as part of your pre-interview research. 

11. Do pre-interview research on the company. 

The least you can do is look at their website, but like I said before, you can follow the company on LinkedIn, as well as Facebook and Twitter too.  For me, being a social media marketer, I want to know how many followers they have and what kind of content do they post.  All of this research is extremely valuable to your interview.  Both of my interviewers for my 2 interviews yesterday asked me if I looked at their website.  I told them yes, and was able to quote some of the eye-catching information I read.  This just shows that you come prepared and are enthusiastic about that company. 

Okay lovely people, I hope this helps.  I’ve had pretty good success with interviewing in the past.  Both companies asked me back for a second-round of interviews, knowing that I’m not looking for full-time employment until next year. 

Filed under interview tips and tricks Business college student advice interviewing

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Fantasy Job Hunting

Not how I imagined to spend my Sunday morning, but a way to spend a Sunday morning nonetheless: fantasy job hunting. 

What is fantasy job hunting? It’s the lengthy process of scouring online job boards like LinkedIn and CareerBuilder to find jobs you may be interested in, and then applying for them.  

Well Olia, that sounds just like you’re applying for jobs. 


WEEEELLLLLLLLL…. It’s not. 

It’s a fantasy because I’m not qualified… yet.  

I call this fantasy job hunting because I’m a year for graduation and am applying for jobs that want people NOW. I’m simply showing interest in companies now, before I begin my senior year, so I can keep track of them through online job boards.  

Whether they contact me back or not, they now have my resume.  Maybe someone has glanced at it.  Maybe they were impressed, maybe not.  Maybe they decided that it was a great resume, but not for the specific position I applied for, but for another position.  Or maybe they saw that I only graduate in a year, and will call me up in 10 months to offer me a job for when I graduate. Granted, this is all best case scenario. 

Bottom line? It’s not hurting anyone if I do apply.  I want the companies to see where I am at now, so they can compare to where I will be a year from now.  This is my personal branding. 

Also, I’m using my website email address, which is a nice hint that I have a website, just incase they don’t look at my resume.  

Social media plays a huge role in job hunting these days.  Well, at least for me it does.  I don’t just research a job before an interview, I research before I even apply.  I don’t want to work for businesses that aren’t social engaged or have an undesirable web presence.  Also, I’m looking for public scandals or news about that organization to see if they uphold the high standards I respect in a business.  Do they treat their employees well, or are they riddled with sexual harassment or biased employment claims? What are their employees, customers, and business partners saying about them online? 

I don’t know about  you, but I’ve come across many a job scam in my day.  Promises of high wages, when you’re really on commission doing door-to-door sales, or “great benefits” include the cold coffee that sits on the dirty counter in the office.  These are exaggerations, of course, but if you’re a recent grad, you may know what I’m talking about.  

It’s a challenge for me to select a job to apply to.  I want it to be something reasonably within my current capabilities with opportunities to continue learning.  Entry-level with paid training is a nice touch in my book.  Especially when those positions will prepare me for advancement, and will train me in the technical skills some of my college coursework has lacked (i.e. experience with certain programs and whatnot).  

Graduation for me is this looming date that I have to have everything figured out by, or so I feel.  Preparing for the professional world is slightly daunting, but I’m getting prepared. 

And if you’re hiring, you can download my resume here

For those of you who are recent grads (lucky), check out this slideshow on why you’re not hired yet. 

Congratulations Graduate! Eleven Reasons Why I Will Never Hire You. from Mark O’Toole

Filed under graduation grad career fantasy job hunting linkedin careerbuilder sunday job search job boards resume Social media social media management social media marketing

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Video on Instagram? What does this mean for Vine?

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Congratulations Instagram, you have accomplished the basics of a SWOT analysis.  You saw opportunity in video, and went for it.  Vine, maybe you should have been a little more wary of potential threats like this. This may be the Facebook versus Twitter conversation all over again. 

We all know that with Vine, we can take up to 6-second videos.  These mini-mobile-movies have been extremely entertaining and creative.  Many “magic” tricks and stop-motion Vines have become the most popular.  Currently, Vine does not have it’s own website where people can view Vines on their computer.  There have been some branching websites that do this, but not one that was created by Vine itself. For example, seenvine.com is a website in which you can search for Vines online. 

Instagram struggled with this in the past, but eventually created it’s own site in which igers could view Instagram pictures online.  Now with video being incorporated with Instagram, I can’t wait to see what this will do to their layout, especially the interactive banner at the top of the profile page.  

Instagram’s new video capability will allow for users to take 15-second videos with filters.  You also get to choose a cover image for your video. Instagram even has a Cinema feature for those with iPhone 4S or 5.  It allows for the user to stabilize the video after it’s been taken. 

How does Vine compare to this? Well let’s break it down. 

In my opinion, Instagram video is going to blow Vine away, unless Vine comes up with another game changer soon.  

Filed under instagram instagramvideo SocialMedia socialmediamarketing vine video instagramupdate facebook twitter

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Proof my 3 Steps Work

I’ve been having some trouble with my website lately.  Mainly, registering subdomain names for the individual pages I have on my site as well as having the mobile site working.  Essentially, I was an upset customer with GoDaddy.  

What did I do of course? Tweet.  

Check it.

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Note: I did not tag @GoDaddy in this tweet.  I merely used #GoDaddy. 

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This got their attention.  I was publicly upset, and they knew it.  If they are using a social media manager like HootSuite, they can also see my Klout Score, which is in the low 60’s typically (not bad for a college senior). They saw that I have online influence, and that other people that may be interested in their service are my followers.  Especially when some of my followers are other marketing and business professionals (important potential customers for GoDaddy).  So guess what, they got back to me faster than their email customer service did.  

If you’re customer service department isn’t responding like this, I’m going to say this again, THEY SHOULD BE! If GoDaddy hadn’t responed so quickly, I could have gone on a well-deserved social media rant about this.  How do you think that would have impacted their business?  They may not see anything from it, but a customer-is-a-customer-is-a-customer as I like to believe.  

If my dissatisfaction with GoDaddy led to me canceling my service with them and influenced one person not to use their service, how far do you think that may have reached?  What if that person told someone else, and they told someone else? GoDaddy may see only one customer lost, but the ripple effect could have meant 10 or 20 potential customers turning to another service. 

The point is: social media is the word-of-mouth these days, and it provides businesses with the ability to track who and what people are saying about them.  

Filed under Social media social media marketing social media management marketing customer service Business Small business twitter hashtag service godaddy

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3 Steps for Social Media Customer Service

I am the (self-proclaimed) biggest critic for customer service departments of any business.  This may come from my time as a clothing store sales rep. when my boss told me the age-old lesson of “the customer is ALWAYS right”, or from my idea of when I buy something, it should just work.  But if I don’t get good customer service when I need it, you can bet your bottom dollar that I’m not coming back for more (aka I won’t become a returning customer… see my previous post).

Business that are using social media to assist with customer service are hitting the nail on the head.  In my opinion, Twitter is the easiest way of handling customer service via a social platform.  

Here’s a few tips on how to do so:

  1. Track your @mentions and #hashtags. 
  2. Have a designated customer service agent work with your social media manager. (or make sure your social media manager has the necessary customer service information)
  3. Respond

Easy, right? 

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Here’s the goal: make the flow of information as simple as possible.  By using online social media managing tools like TweetDeck, you can track who is mentioning you as well as hashtags that pertain to your business.  For example:

#yourbusinessnamehere, #yourproductnamehere, #abbreviationsforyourbusinessname, #abbreviationsforyourproductsname, #yourbusinessmotto, #yourbusinesslogo

Follow these hashtags like it’s your religion.  

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Not only do you want to track these hashtags for customer service purposes, these are key tools in seeing what consumers are saying about you, good and bad.  

As for step 2, make sure the information is streamlined between the social media manager and your customer service department.  Maybe establish one customer service agent to handle social media concerns.  This way, at least two people are on the job.  If the SM manager discovers a concern that has yet to be addressed, they can email it over to the designated CS agent.  If you’re pushed to the limits on your staffing, train your SM manager to handle customer service complaints.  My best opinion, do both if you can.  You’ll have a checks and balances system as well as qualified employees.  

Now, response.  With Twitter, you only have 140 characters.  So you can do a few things.

  • Respond publicly.  This shows that you’re there and listening.  
  • Include a link to your FAQ or sponsored forum that addresses their concern. Use a link shortener like bit.ly or goo.gl.
  • If they need direct assistance, send them a private message with the contact information to your customer service department (and if you have a social media designated customer service agent, give them that direct line).

note: If you send them a private message, this should also be accompanied with a public tweet indicating that they should contact you and to check their private messages for details. 

It’s that easy, and if you don’t believe me try it for a week and see what happens.  Let me know how this worked out for you, and if you think it provided any value to your business. 

Filed under Social media customer service marketing social media marketing social media management socail media managers FAQ 3 steps link shortener easy social media tools