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Buying Your Way to the Top with Social Media

With the popularity of SEO, social media, and the boom of the online industry, competition is becoming fiercer than ever. It is no longer common to find someone outside of the marketing world who doesn't understand the basic fundamentals of search engine marketing. Back in 2001-2002, all you needed was a website utilizing basic SEO elements and a few links and Google would love you and you could outrank your competition. Fast forward to today, the game has completely changed. Now, Google will likely ignore you until you're able to prove your website deserves to rank in their search results based on their criteria. With over 100 factors taken into account into the Google search engine algorithm to determine how a website is ranked, this has lead to new level of abuse and capitalization from certain individuals and companies to try to game the system. Search engines are constantly changing the way their algorithm works in order to fight spam and tactics that violate their guidelines. Violation of these terms can lead to a website being penalized or in worst case scenario, banned. Social media has become a key player in influencing the impact of search engine marketing and Google has openly stated they are now considering social signals in their ranking algorithm. With the popularity of social media networks such as Digg, Twitter, Facebook, and most recently, the introduction of Google+, the level of abuse is rising from underground groups to manipulate and find ways to trick search engines. Most recently, new social media company Plussem.com began offering a service where they utilize a group of people to vote for the website of your choice on Google+ in exchange for a fee. Looking for 50 votes? It'll cost you just 20 bucks. Want 2,000 votes? You can get it by paying the equivalent cost of an XBOX 360. While this idea sounds enticing, and may work for a short time frame, the MIT engineers behind the scenes at the Google Plex are most likely working day and night trying to figure out a way to prevent abuse from such services. My thought on this topic is, if you do get any type of benefit, it will be short lived. This type of manipulation is nothing new. Dig further around the web and you will find all kinds of paid services where you can buy social media love. Let's take a look at the service Subvert and Profit as an example. This site offers everything from paid YouTube to Twitter votes. Not only can advertisers benefit from this, but social media users can also make money from it. Want your message to be spread across Twitter? You can do that too, with a service like Sponsored Tweets. The rise of these types of services is here to stay. While these services can make you appear popular to your audience, participating in these networks will not give you a long term benefit or a spike in search engine traffic or rankings. Focus on building buzz-worthy and interesting content your audience will naturally react to. Utilize SEO best practices, participate in social networks to build your networks and you will build your reputation online as an authority on your topic. Remember, content is KING.

Buying Your Way to the Top with Social Media

With the popularity of SEO, social media, and the boom of the online industry, competition is becoming fiercer than ever. It is no longer common to find someone outside of the marketing world who doesn't understand the basic fundamentals of search engine marketing. Back in 2001-2002, all you needed was a website utilizing basic SEO elements and a few links and Google would love you and you could outrank your competition. Fast forward to today, the game has completely changed. Now, Google will likely ignore you until you're able to prove your website deserves to rank in their search results based on their criteria. With over 100 factors taken into account into the Google search engine algorithm to determine how a website is ranked, this has lead to new level of abuse and capitalization from certain individuals and companies to try to game the system. Search engines are constantly changing the way their algorithm works in order to fight spam and tactics that violate their guidelines. Violation of these terms can lead to a website being penalized or in worst case scenario, banned. Social media has become a key player in influencing the impact of search engine marketing and Google has openly stated they are now considering social signals in their ranking algorithm. With the popularity of social media networks such as Digg, Twitter, Facebook, and most recently, the introduction of Google+, the level of abuse is rising from underground groups to manipulate and find ways to trick search engines. Most recently, new social media company Plussem.com began offering a service where they utilize a group of people to vote for the website of your choice on Google+ in exchange for a fee. Looking for 50 votes? It'll cost you just 20 bucks. Want 2,000 votes? You can get it by paying the equivalent cost of an XBOX 360. While this idea sounds enticing, and may work for a short time frame, the MIT engineers behind the scenes at the Google Plex are most likely working day and night trying to figure out a way to prevent abuse from such services. My thought on this topic is, if you do get any type of benefit, it will be short lived. This type of manipulation is nothing new. Dig further around the web and you will find all kinds of paid services where you can buy social media love. Let's take a look at the service Subvert and Profit as an example. This site offers everything from paid YouTube to Twitter votes. Not only can advertisers benefit from this, but social media users can also make money from it. Want your message to be spread across Twitter? You can do that too, with a service like Sponsored Tweets. The rise of these types of services is here to stay. While these services can make you appear popular to your audience, participating in these networks will not give you a long term benefit or a spike in search engine traffic or rankings. Focus on building buzz-worthy and interesting content your audience will naturally react to. Utilize SEO best practices, participate in social networks to build your networks and you will build your reputation online as an authority on your topic. Remember, content is KING.

Buying Your Way to the Top with Social Media

With the popularity of SEO, social media, and the boom of the online industry, competition is becoming fiercer than ever. It is no longer common to find someone outside of the marketing world who doesn't understand the basic fundamentals of search engine marketing. Back in 2001-2002, all you needed was a website utilizing basic SEO elements and a few links and Google would love you and you could outrank your competition. Fast forward to today, the game has completely changed. Now, Google will likely ignore you until you're able to prove your website deserves to rank in their search results based on their criteria. With over 100 factors taken into account into the Google search engine algorithm to determine how a website is ranked, this has lead to new level of abuse and capitalization from certain individuals and companies to try to game the system. Search engines are constantly changing the way their algorithm works in order to fight spam and tactics that violate their guidelines. Violation of these terms can lead to a website being penalized or in worst case scenario, banned. Social media has become a key player in influencing the impact of search engine marketing and Google has openly stated they are now considering social signals in their ranking algorithm. With the popularity of social media networks such as Digg, Twitter, Facebook, and most recently, the introduction of Google+, the level of abuse is rising from underground groups to manipulate and find ways to trick search engines. Most recently, new social media company Plussem.com began offering a service where they utilize a group of people to vote for the website of your choice on Google+ in exchange for a fee. Looking for 50 votes? It'll cost you just 20 bucks. Want 2,000 votes? You can get it by paying the equivalent cost of an XBOX 360. While this idea sounds enticing, and may work for a short time frame, the MIT engineers behind the scenes at the Google Plex are most likely working day and night trying to figure out a way to prevent abuse from such services. My thought on this topic is, if you do get any type of benefit, it will be short lived. This type of manipulation is nothing new. Dig further around the web and you will find all kinds of paid services where you can buy social media love. Let's take a look at the service Subvert and Profit as an example. This site offers everything from paid YouTube to Twitter votes. Not only can advertisers benefit from this, but social media users can also make money from it. Want your message to be spread across Twitter? You can do that too, with a service like Sponsored Tweets. The rise of these types of services is here to stay. While these services can make you appear popular to your audience, participating in these networks will not give you a long term benefit or a spike in search engine traffic or rankings. Focus on building buzz-worthy and interesting content your audience will naturally react to. Utilize SEO best practices, participate in social networks to build your networks and you will build your reputation online as an authority on your topic. Remember, content is KING.

Can you keep a secret? So can I.

I recently read a blog post that detailed a rather upsetting interaction between a fan and the panel of judges from Top Chef. SymiGoddess fell in to a full-blown foodie swoon upon seeing the beloved bad-ass experts at a local bar, and as a Top Chef fanatic I could totally relate to her excited impulse to share her luck via Twitter. Symi sent out tweets buy cytotec saying, 'I just met @PadmaLakshmi I'm in love,'? and 'Tonight just got surreal @ the esquire. Top Chef in the house!!!'? Everything was going swimmingly until her evening was interrupted by staff from Bravo telling her that she had compromised the location of the celebrities and needed to stop tweeting. 'Now.'? To me there are two exciting things about being part of the Twittersphere, and the first is that you're always the first to hear a 'scoop.'? We like to get our news in real time so we're among the elite who get to hear exciting new things before anyone else. Twitter is the first place I hear most of my news, from the death of Osama Bin Laden, to the latest celebrity engagement ring Tweetpic. I stay plugged in, because I like to be among the first to know. That's what makes it fun and makes me feel elite ' I am special to know new things. I saw that Mila Kunis was working out next to one of my friends in a Boston gym, and yeah, I felt a thrill knowing that information. The second thing that makes Twitter cool is that while the Top Chef celebs may have felt at risk, it is the possibility of doing an 'a la minute'? update of your news that makes Twitter special. I tweeted where to find the Stanley Cup the day after the Bruins won, and it was my ability to share real-time information that made one of my co-workers forever indebted to me. (You know who you are.) People love to share their micro-news and be among the few who are looked to for information. While influencers on Twitter are not officially members of the press, the lines are becoming more blurred and often someone who sends a tweet to their followers can reach more people than a local newspaper. Being someone who makes the news is really cool. Granted, there is much more that is interesting and fun about Twitter, but reading Symi's blog post made me feel sad, because they ruined the fun part of being a micro-journalist. People need to prepare for how real-time news will affect their life and learn to roll with it, because it's happening, and their best option is to jump on board.

The Startup Every Employee Should Love and Fear

It's like the Sporcle of the business world, and that's scary as hell. Smarterer ' no, the extra 'ER'? does not stand for Emergency Room, though that's where some resumes may end up if this catches on ' is a new startup that's trying to put everyone's job skills on an even playing field. Let's say that you look at 100 resumes. Every single one has 'proficient in ______'? on there, but how exactly do you measure that? One person's 'proficient'? might actually be another person's 'skilled'? and what the heck is a hiring manager to do when a 'Microsoft Office Rock Star'? comes around? Other than immediately disqualify that person for unnecessary hyperbole, up until now, there hasn't been much to do. That's where Smarterer comes in. Smarterer ' currently in beta ' offers business professionals a chance to prove their proficiency at some of the most popular business and web applications used today. Without going into the most-likely complex algorithm that Smarterer was built on, I'll give you this; take a test and get a grade. You pick an application you want to get graded on, like Twitter, PowerPoint, Photoshop or CSS for example, answer a few multiple choice questions and then get a grade based on how well you answered them. If you get a score of 500-599 you are considered 'Smart'?, 600-699 'Smarter'?, and 700+ 'Smarterer'?. Then import that grade to all of your networks and into your resume to show off just how great you are. It's so mind-numbingly simple it's a wonder why no one has thought of this before. So how does it work? Pretty well, actually. I took it for a test drive yesterday and other than being extremely nerve-racking since you're basically qualifying your entire professional career in a 60 second test, it seems to work pretty well. I seem to be most 'smart'? at applications I use every day (PowerPoint, Word, Twitter), and somewhat below proficiency in applications I rarely use (Photoshop, Illustrator). And just for the heck of it, I took a test for Javascript, something I know absolutely nothing about, and tallied a 165. So, it seems to be pretty accurate. For the most part, you attain the majority of your final score in the first few questions. Then you tend to lose more points by getting questions wrong than you do by getting them correct. This will help ward off the potential for taking the tests over and over and blindly clicking away with the hopes of upping a score. I've taken a few of the tests multiple times, and after the first few, it's somewhat hard to increase your score drastically, so you really do need to know your stuff. Though the site does warn against cheating and hacking, I'm interested to know what other safeguards are in place to thwart potential work-arounds to up scores. And similar to any type of standardized testing, there is also the fear that those with high scores may not necessarily be the most proficient, but just happen to be good at memorizing facts. Though that begs the additional question, if you know the facts, doesn't that make you proficient? Overall, it's a very interesting idea, and something that employers and the workforce will need to familiarize themselves with over the next few years as it has the chance to become a standard in grading out business expertise.

New York Times Paywall

Recently, The New York Times made waves as it became the first newspaper to enforce a paywall, limiting access to content on the paper's website. While it seems the famous newspaper has, at least temporarily, stopped the hemorrhaging of free content via its digital format,  the enforcement of the paywall left some scratching their head, or looking for the best hack. For those still trying to catch up with the paywall concept, the New York Times has created subscription levels for a variety of users. Those who pay for a hard copy of the Times receive free unlimited access to all content on the companion website, those who choose not to subscribe to the hard copy are given the option of paying a subscription fee for access to content available on NYTimes.com, and still others are allowed free, but limited, access to content found via search engines. Finally, users who access NYTimes.com content via links produced through social sharing or integration (Facebook/Twitter shares or 'like'? button clicks) are given free, unlimited access to content as long as the origin of the click through to NYTimes.com is from Facebook or Twitter. While on its face this seemingly benign preference for users referred via social sharing/integration might not seem meaningful, the reward of free content for social media users can have huge implications for readers, competing newspapers, and yes, even marketers.  So why is the New York Times so eager to give social media all the love? Here are some ideas: Connecting with Who You Want to Reach on Their Own Turf is Important Back in 2007, the New York Times reported on its own potential demise when publishing information from a Harvard study citing an underwhelming 16% of young adults aged 18 ' 30 actually read the newspaper. Though social media sites like Facebook and Twitter were just beginning to build their active users, the newspaper in its print form was already struggling to connect with younger audiences. Today, social media is an inherent part of a young person's life. It seems obvious, in an effort to secure longevity by reaching younger and younger audiences, incentivizing readership and sharing by offering free content would be the way to go. Many have attached the ominous 'for now'?¦'? when describing the Times choice for allowing free access through social links, but to address the potential for what I (and I'm sure others) like to call the '$5 Footlong Phenomenon'? would require a completely different blog post. Let's move on to something a little bit more'?¦ innovative. The Value of a Facebook Like or Twitter Share > $1.25 for a Daily Paper This sounds crazy, right? Just hear me out. Marketers have done some stretching to assign a dollar value to a Facebook user or like in the hopes of turning social media ROI into a finite science. While there is debate as to the validity of a general value placed on a brand's Facebook fan, the New York Times may have unearthed something big by seemingly declaring the value of a social share is worth more than a subscription fee to access digital content. This is a radical change for a company whose health is measured by the amount of subscription and advertising dollars coming through the door. But, in a world where consumer decisions are swayed more by peer recommendation than advertising, and opinions held by a network of friends are more influential than a panel of experts, The New York Times has taken the first step toward leading an industry-wide change of opinion. The progression of the New York Times paywall will be an interesting one. The world is already wagging its collective finger at Rupert Murdoch's facepalm as NYTimes.com site traffic declined by nearly two-thirds after paywall implementation. But, nonetheless, whether the concept of a paywall spreads to other dailies, brings marketers and brands one step closer to determining the value of a social share, or backfires completely, it certainly will be a fascinating story to follow.

A Journalist in the Digital Age

If you look at my college degree it says that I am a print and multimedia journalist, but unlike a traditional reporter I don't subscribe to the Boston Globe, the New York Times or even the Washington Post. You may ask what type of journalist I am if I don't pick up a paper each morning but I'll tell you: I'm a journalist in the digital age. I turn to the web for my news as I watch things break on Twitter, go viral on Facebook and update on all of the major newspapers' websites. Television was normally the fastest way to broadcast news until the world's obsession with connectivity and the web took over. This is evidenced in the events that unfolded on the evening of Sunday, May 1, 2011. When the newscaster mentioned that the president would be speaking at 10:30 for an unknown reason, all it took was a refresh of my Twitter feed to know that Osama Bin Laden was dead. I was then able to confirm it on CNN.com and read an ever growing list of articles, reports and links to video on Twitter...all before the TV station finished its commercial break. As it turns out, the news of Bin Laden's death actually broke on Twitter, the first tweet reportedly coming from Keith Urbahn, Chief of Staff for the office of the former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He tweeted, 'So I'm told by a reputable person they have killed Osama Bin Laden. Hot Buy cialis online damn.'? This was all it took to create and online media firestorm which resulted in a record-breaking tweets per hour. In a Mashable online poll, 31% of respondents heard the news first on Twitter with Facebook following close behind at 20%. These numbers show that social media is changing the way we get our news and it's easy to understand why since news spreads faster online. With television, in order to 'interrupt this program and take you live to the White House,'? they must organize the equipment and the team of people to use it, and hope that people are sitting near their TV's prepared to watch the broadcast. In contrast, it is estimated that by Christmas 2011 more phone users will have smartphones than any other type of phone, meaning nearly 142.8 million people will have access to the web at any given time. That's a lot of people who can get breaking news while at the bar, in a bowling alley or at their son's soccer game. They can see a single tweet that says 'Osama Bin Laden has been reported dead'? and retweet it faster than a newscaster can say 'good evening.'? Because of this shift in how people receive their information I've learned of all the major news that's broken in the past few years, from the internet. While there's something 'official'? about having a newscaster interrupt your program to bring you news, if you ask me, it's not official until it's a trending topic on Twitter.

Frantic for Food Carts

On a recent trip to Puerto Rico I found myself diving into a rotisserie chicken that I bought from a van on the side of the road. At one point I looked up, salty, tender meat in my bare hand, and thought, 'Why, oh why, can't Boston accommodate my impulsive need to buy and devour an entire chicken?'? Well, it seems that my wishes were sent to some sort of higher power because this week Boston unveiled the winners of what they called the 'Food Truck Challenge'? and now three food trucks are stationed at City Hall Plaza until October 28th. Fun roadside food for all! These three new food trucks will be stationed at City Hall Plaza all summer, and with enthusiastic responses to the portable kitchens, the City of Boston is asking residents to help propose new sites for future food truck locations. It's all exciting and hopefully this summer there will be a collection of locations where food trucks can stop and offer a rotation of different cuisines and flavors for local residents and workers to enjoy. As I was thinking about my future favorite food truck I was wondering how I'll know where to find it on any given day. Thankfully I was reminded of food trucks' secret weapon: SOCIAL MEDIA. With Boston's newfound love of the roving-cuisine phenomenon, how else would the rest of the city know where they can partake were it not for the constant flow of information hitting our newsfeeds? There are apps and Twitter users specifically dedicated to the locations of food trucks in certain cities, like Mike Krell of @AustinFoodCarts. Sharing reviews and locations allows users and followers to keep abreast of new additions to the scene and where they can find their existing favorites. And with Twitter's fairly recent addition that allows users to 'tag'? their locations, food trucks themselves can announce where they are for the day without detailing a specific location, because users are able to simply click on the most recent tweet. Food trucks and pop-up restaurants don't only use Twitter and Facebook to alert followers and fans of their locations, but also to announce menu options for the day, special deals, celebrity visitors (Menino?!), and also to post photos of their food and surroundings. Social media is an ideal platform for these roving wonders as it provides a portable and easy broadcast service for the them; owners can easily post new menu items to Facebook while on the road to their next stop without breaking stride. This is also good because, for the most part, the messages that food trucks need to send to their consumers tend to be short. Can you detail three menu items in fewer than 140 characters? I'll bet you could. However it is the constant flow of information that makes social media perfect, because should weather conditions change or the planned location be unavailable, messages can be sent out to fans and followers that let them know of any minute-to-minute bends in the road. Using services like Facebook and Twitter is also a good option as it allows consumers to feel involved with the new phenomenon ' locals are not looking simply to be fed, but to participate with this new cultural change to the Boston landscape. Momogoose, one of the winning food trucks that offers 'South and Southeast Asian Bistro'? cuisine, tweets back and celebrex generic name forth with followers on their Twitter page which further engages them with the experience. Followers tweet Momogoose about their positive meal experiences, but also about changes that can be made to the dishes. This exchange is something that is important for the owners to know so they hear feedback from consumers, although what they choose to do with that information is up to them. Social media allows for this consumer involvement in an open arena, which is something that previously was not possible. I know I'm not the only one who is excited to try out these 'chow wagons,'? but I may be the only one who is extremely disappointed if there isn't one with whole rotisserie chickens parked outside my office on a daily basis. Maybe I should start sending out tweets to see if anyone will listen, or even open my own truck'?¦

What's New In Social Media This Week'?¦

Check out the latest social media news for this week'?¦ GroupMe, a social media startup, is giving brands the opportunity to create and engage in group messaging conversations about them.  The brands will have the ability to send messages, answer questions, share photos, post promotions and more.  Read more'?¦ Ever wondered how the click-per-share ratio compares between Facebook and Twitter?  Mashable pulled 3 months worth of their social data and calculated the click-per-share rate.  Twitter users are more likely to share an article but not read it, while Facebook users click on more articles than they share.  Also, Twitter received about .38 clicks per tweet while Facebook received 3.31 clicks per engagement ' which is 8.7x more clicks than a tweet.  Read more'?¦ Only .05% of Twitter users' tweets attract attention.  Of the 260 million tweets with URLs that were analyzed by Yahoo Research, nearly 50% of the tweets came from 'elite'? users: media, celebrities, organizations, and bloggers.  Read more'?¦ Twitter has released a new set of developer tools that will make it easier to embed fully-functional tweets on the Web.  Read more'?¦

What Marketers can Learn from Livin' the Sheen

AUTHORS' NOTE: AMP Agency does not condone making fun of someone potentially struggling with drug-related issues and/or mental health challenges, the media's irresponsible coverage and promotion of someone who is struggling with drug-related issues and/or mental health challenges, or the movie Major League II. Please, stop me if you've heard this one: 'I am on a drug, and it's called Charlie Sheen!'? This is one of many seemingly-mad rants of Carlos Estevez (d.b.a. 'Charlie Sheen'?), who within the past week has launched a one-man cross-media assault (radio, TV, social, print) on pop culture. He hit one million followers on Twitter within about a day. Since January, Google searches for 'Charlie Sheen'? have increased tenfold. It's safe to say these aren't just Two and a Half Men fans, either. While these Busey-ian quotes may seem completely devoid of any logic, reasoning or mental stability, there are some marketing-relevant applications to them, if you listen closely. After the past week, we've uncovered the following five key lessons for marketers: 1.) Pick One Brand Message, and Stick With It ' Sheen has recently unveiled his one-word personal tag-line, 'winning,'? and he hasn't strayed much off message. When asked if he was bipolar, Sheen promptly quipped back with, 'Wow. What does that even mean? '?¦I'm bi-winning. I win here and I win there, now what?'? Think of brands that you've seen that switch their brand message multiple times per year, or have multiple creative campaigns in market at the same time. It's hard to grow a brand that way. 2.) Think Holistically ' Keeping with the 'win'? theme, Charlie has promised, 'I'm going to win at every moment.'? For shopper marketing folks, this is the golden rule. There are numerous opportunities to influence consumer buying decisions along the 'path to purchase,'? and a holistic mindset helps you win at every consideration point along the way. 3.) A Unique Voice Rises Above All ' Every agency stresses the importance of 'breaking through the clutter'?, but very few brands are able to actually do that. Is it risky? Absolutely. But can it be effective? Yes. Look no further than any one of Sheen's several hundred grandiose quotes from the past few days. They are far more memorable than most PR-vetted answers and statements from an embattled celebrity. You could even argue that Sheen's quotes are so plentiful and so cutting that they have created an entirely new level of Sheen-clutter, where it's actually laborious to sort through the crazy. A few that specifically come to mind are: a. I've got tiger blood and Adonis DNA b. Imagine what I would have done with my fire-breathing fists. c. 'I'm tired of pretending like I'm not bitching, a total freaking rock star from Mars'? d. Touch my children and I will eat your hands off your arms Clearly, we would never recommend that a brand speak about eating human hands off of arms. Though you do have to admit that in the world of celebrity pop culture, you've probably overheard people say 'I am on a drug, and it's called Charlie Sheen!'? more than any other celebrity quote in the past week. 4.) Plan Better ' On Thursday, he unveiled his latest Sheen-ism 'Ready for my next fastball, world? PLAN BETTER Applies to everything where an excuse now sits. Try it. U won't be wrong. Ever. #PlanBetter'? Seems pretty straightforward. Why didn't any of us think of that first? 5.) Be Prepared ' "I'm sorry man, but I've got magic. I've got poetry in my fingertips. Most of the time - and this includes naps - I'm an F-18, bro. And I will destroy you in the air. I will deploy my ordinance to the ground." EVEN DURING NAPS, this guy is on fire. Good social media lesson here, that while customer service hours are traditionally some iteration of 9-5, social channels are always on and brands need to be prepared to resolve problems at any time. Don't get caught napping. Unless, like Chuck, you're an F-18 while doing it.

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