Tag Archives: Google

Learn How Much You Don’t Know

Knowledge

In 2009, I participated in the St. Louis Public Relations Society chapter’s training program for PR certification. I attended sessions all over town and gathered knowledge and wisdom from a number of PR pros. I picked up and studied the suggested textbook. Yes, I learned a lot. I was unaware of the full scope of public relations. I realized I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew.

Last month I took a course in Web Analytics at University of Missouri/St. Louis (UMSL). As a result, I am now certified in Google Analytics. I learned how analytics can reveal a wealth of information about traffic to websites. In addition to exercises on the Google dashboard, I had the chance to use Adobe’s Omniture analytics setup.

I may not be ready to be a lead analyst, but I now know enough to be a contributing team member. After completing the course, though, I realize there is much more about web analytics that I still do not know.

Even More To Learn!

This month I took a Social Media Strategies course at UMSL. I am now a Hootsuite Certified Professional.

I’ve been a Facebook admin and have used Hootsuite Pro for several years. Although I knew a lot about social media going in, the course revealed many areas I had not ventured into. I learned new ways that Hootsuite can help me and my clients. I gained insight about best practices for Facebook and Instagram. Again, I learned how much I did not know and how much more there is to be learned.

It feels good when you receive significant enlightenment or have an “aha” moment. My younger kids, both digital natives, have given me useful computer tips, generally without condescension. But every time they share, I am also made aware of how much I don’t know. Always and forever, there is so much to learn.

 

 

 

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Keep It Simple

Simple

In our busy, complex personal and professional lives, filled with information coming from every imaginable source, simple things are appreciated. We all have a finite amount of time and attention to give each day.

Here’s how you can help…

  1. Write shorter paragraphs, using shorter sentences.
  2. Edit your email signature and dump all that legalese at the bottom (which no one ever reads anyway).
  3. If you own a restaurant, eliminate half of your menu items. You’ll make life easier for your diners, your staff and yourself.
  4. Include just one sales message in your marketing emails. (You don’t have to tell me everything about your organization.)
  5. Make sure images in your emails and on your website are as recognizable on a tiny phone screen as they are on your big desktop screen.
  6. Facebook and Instagram allow for long posts. Don’t do it! Most of us will just scroll on past the long ones. (Thanks, Twitter, for maintaining a maximum post length.)
  7. Place a time limit on videos you share. How long? Determine what your audience is comfortable with. (Consider that some of us may hesitate to watch a 7-minute video but will gladly watch 7 one-minute videos.)
  8. Be merciless when editing content. Three good paragraphs beats twelve mediocre paragraphs every time.
  9. Unless it’s your doctoral dissertation, don’t be afraid to use sentence fragments, when appropriate.

For a perfect example of the beauty and effectiveness of a simple approach, compare the layouts of Google.com with Bing.com and Yahoo.com. (Google has a 67.68% market share for searches; Bing, 13.27%; Yahoo, 8.14%.)

An almost infinite number of choices in many aspects of our life is wonderful. Unless we want the regular version, in the standard size, and it’s not in stock. Have you ever gone grocery shopping and found a dozen or more variations on the product you want, but not the particular version you want?

The great singer/songwriter Merle Haggard who died last week was once quoted as saying, “The most important thing in a song is simplicity.” Keep it simple.

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New Media Versus Old Media: Both Claim Wins

 

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Old radio set

In July 2013 I posted an article titled Why New Media Are Better Than Old Media. The next week I listed reasons Why Old Media Are Better Than New Media. My point in these back-to-back posts is that both have their strong points.

(Also, I use the word “media” as a plural of “medium,” though I acknowledge that many people refer to “media” as a single entity.)

Here are those lists:

Why New Media Are Better Than Old Media

  1. The internet is open to everyone. No FCC license or printing press necessary.
  2. Net content is available throughout (most of) the world.
  3. Content can be archived on computer drives or accessed via the cloud.
  4. It’s easier to make corrections to web content than to material that’s already been published or transmitted.
  5. Advertising is not as pervasive or obnoxious. Yet.
  6. Content can be more easily targeted to specific groups.
  7. It’s easier to email a file than to send via USPS or FedEx.
  8. It’s quicker to send a text message than to make a call.
  9. Downloading books, movies and music is more convenient and more eco-friendly than purchasing at stores.
  10. Wikipedia and Google provide info that’s more up to date than those volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica and Webster’s dictionary.
  11. Twitter and Facebook serve as community town hall forums for instant sharing of ideas and thoughts on news and events.
  12. Interactivity allows all to participate.
  13. Apps on mobile devices provide immense amounts of entertainment and information.
  14. New media bring continual innovation while old media struggle to keep up.

 

Why Old Media Are Better Than New Media

  1. A framed newspaper article on the wall of your business looks better than a framed printout of the online version.
  2. The Super Bowl looks better on a 50-inch TV screen than it does on a smartphone.
  3. Spill your oatmeal on your morning paper, not a big deal. Spill oatmeal on your iPhone/iPad/MacBook, panic time.
  4. Listening to traffic reports on radio while driving is not as distracting as looking at traffic apps on a smartphone at 60 mph.
  5. Internet connectivity is not so hot on country back roads when compared to the signal strength of a Class C FM station.
  6. A century-old newspaper has more credibility than a ten-year-old news aggregator.
  7. Movie theaters offer an experience that cannot be duplicated at home. And the popcorn is better.
  8. Online death rumors are often hoaxes. Old media are more likely to seek verification.
  9. A segment on local TV morning news is likely to be seen by more eyes than a feature on a popular local blog.
  10. Wikipedia information can be revised and updated by literally anyone. Traditional reference material is vetted by scores of editors.
  11. Neighborhood weekly newspapers provide useful information not easily found elsewhere.
  12. Despite fragmentation, advertisers still reach enormous audiences via TV, radio, newspapers and magazines.
  13. A telephone call allows for speedier dialogues than does a series of text messages or emails.
  14. Even in the era of consolidation, no single entity rules old media like Google dominates new media.

(During Summer 2015 I am revisiting several of my posts from previous years.)

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Break Up Google!

I’ve never read very deep into Ayn Rand’s classic novel Atlas Shrugged. Whenever I try I get bogged down in its stilted dialogues and general verbosity. But I’ve read enough of it and have talked to people who swear by it to get this message from the author: In business, you shouldn’t be punished (or reined in at all) for competing too well.

Google is, for those of us who spend considerable time each day in front of a computer screen, a vital and necessary tool. My browser’s search window can be set to Yahoo or Bing, but I choose to use Google.

Google is more than a search tool. It offers Youtube, Gmail, Chrome, Google Plus, Google Analytics, Google Maps, Google Earth, the Android smartphone platform and other services. Not to mention Google Adwords, which has provided good results for many businesses and organizations.

Google recently changed its Gmail inbox. It now sorts incoming emails into one of three categories: Primary, Social and Promotion. Those of us who manage email marketing for clients are concerned that some emails sent to Gmail accounts through Constant Contact, Mail Chimp or other email service providers may land under the Promotion tab and may not be opened in a timely manner, if at all.

An article posted last Thursday asks this question in its headline: Dig Google Just Kill PR Agencies? Click HERE to read it. The article deals with changes in Google webmaster rules regarding links and keywords in press releases.

Smart people can work around or with those two recent changes. But these questions are worth considering: Does Google have too much power? Do they control too much of the Internet? Do they know too much about you?

In the 80’s we saw the feds break up AT & T. In the early days of radio, the feds forced NBC to spin off one of its two networks. In 1998, the feds sought to break up Microsoft. After an initial ruling against the company, a compromise settlement was reached in 2001.

You and I don’t have the power to control Google and its destiny, but we can choose how each of us interacts with Google.

Is it fair to limit market dominance that has come from performing and competing well? Absolute power corrupts absolutely, as the saying goes. As useful as Google is, we as citizens must pay attention to their business practices. Regulators must monitor their actions to assure fair competition. It may not yet be time to break up Google, but that day may be approaching. Stay tuned.

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Why New Media Are Better Than Old Media

  1. The internet is open to everyone. No FCC license or printing press necessary.
  2. Net content is available throughout (most of) the world.
  3. Content can be archived on computer drives or accessed via the cloud.
  4. It’s easier to make corrections to web content than to material that’s already been published or transmitted.
  5. Advertising is not as pervasive or obnoxious. Yet.
  6. Content can be more easily targeted to specific groups.
  7. It’s easier to email a file than to send via USPS or FedEx.
  8. It’s quicker to send a text message than to make a call.
  9. Downloading books, movies and music is more convenient and more eco-friendly than purchasing at stores.
  10. Wikipedia and Google provide info that’s more up to date than those volumes of Encyclopedia Britannica and Webster’s dictionary.
  11. Twitter and Facebook serve as community town hall forums for instant sharing of ideas and thoughts on news and events.
  12. Interactivity allows all to participate.
  13. Apps on mobile devices provide immense amounts of entertainment and information.
  14. New media bring continual innovation while old media struggle to keep up.

 

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Popular or Avant-Garde?

In a world ruled by Facebook and Twitter, should you devote a lot of attention to other social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Vine, Google +, LinkedIn, Tagged, etc., etc., etc.?

I say yes. Absolutely. Knowing how they work gives you an opportunity to share content in a different way and, in many cases, present it via links to… Facebook and Twitter!

For specific audiences and for specific needs, the “second tier” social networks can often beat Facebook and Twitter hands down. Your quest for place settings for a wedding reception can lead you to excellent results on Pinterest. Your search for your next job on LinkedIn connects you with people who are hiring (and people who know people who are hiring).

To me, the comparison between the more popular Facebook and Twitter and the others is like so many other situations in our lives where the easy choice is what’s most popular. But more enlightenment and satisfaction may come from the less popular choice.

I enjoyed Iron Man 3 (2013’s biggest movie), but my favorite movie so far this year is less-seen The Place Beyond the Pines. Pepperoni and mozzarella are all-time favorite pizza toppings, but the one made with pear, fig and gorgonzola can also be mighty tasty!

The key to successful utilization of the myriad of social networks is budgeting your time appropriately. You should fish where the fish are. While you grow your connections and share meaningful content on Instagram, Vine, etc., don’t forget that bigger things are likely still happening with Facebook and Twitter.

Another key is to be aware that everything is fluid and constantly evolving. What’s vital today may be passé next year. Myspace was big, then less relevant. (And it may come back, according to this news item.) Developers are always working on tweaks that may make their networks more important or… less so.

Stay curious. Check out the new. Hit Redbox for The Place Beyond the Pines (out on DVD 8/6/13). But as you dabble with the avant-garde, remember the value of the mainstream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rivalry Is Good

Conflicts, competition and rivalries are good. We enjoy watching sports teams face off against their rivals. Observing corporate conflict, such as that between Google and Apple, can be fun. Beefs between showbiz personalities can cause fans to get excited.

Conflict is compelling and has been since David versus Goliath. Look at how many movies and TV shows are based on conflict. We tend to favor the “good guy,” but sometimes the lines are hazy. In recent decades, we’ve been introduced to more likable “bad guys.” Still, there are those classic conflicts between good and bad, rich and poor, cool kids and nerds, rednecks and sophisticates, etc. that fuel so much entertainment content.

It’s important to remember that rivals need each other. Despite their competing operating systems for mobile devices, Google and Apple still have business dealings with each other. Meanwhile, the success of one motivates the rival to keep up (or to do better). As much as St. Louis Cardinals fans and Chicago Cubs fans love to give each other grief, the two teams prosper financially when their rival comes to town. Conflict exists on the field and in the stands, but beneath it all, the Cards and Cubs are longtime partners in Major League Baseball.

Do you have a direct competitor? Is there a specific business or individual that you are motivated to outperform? If not, you may want to look for one! Why? It helps you define your purpose and it can drive you to give extra effort. Your designated rival doesn’t have to know that you are targeting him (or them). He (or they) may have chosen a completely different entity to serve as their motivating rival.

Picking a rival does not mean that you want to put them out of business or drive them down. The Philadelphia Eagles want to feed on the conflict and beat the New York Giants each time they meet. But the Eagles don’t want the Giants to disappear, nor to be weak or winless. You (and the Eagles) just want to outperform your chosen rival in measurable numbers. Whether that means points on a scoreboard, awards on a trophy shelf or profits on a balance sheet, having a rival can spark your performance.

Will you always win? No. If you do, you may want to select another rival. Look for a rival that pushes you to be your best. And always play to win.

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Traditional Media: Not Quite Dead

Look, I enjoy the internet, mobile apps, social media, blogging, texting, email, etc. as much as the next guy. Actually, in most cases, more than the next guy. I watch TV shows on Hulu, listen to music on Spotify, get much of my news from the web.

But I am tired of hearing people—especially bright people in PR and marketing—say that traditional media are dead. They are not. Certain outlets may not be healthy, but TV, radio and print are still reaching millions of people daily.

I recall a presentation earlier this year in St. Louis about the power of Twitter to engage and motivate people. The presenter made the point that his agency’s campaign was so successful on Twitter that it got his cause coverage on radio and in the newspaper. In other words, one of his milestones for social media success was obtaining some love from traditional media.

When you’re stuck in rush hour traffic, a mobile app may give you the reason why. But if you want trustworthy local traffic info, you will likely dial up a local terrestrial radio station.

Google spent $213 million on TV, newspaper and magazine ads in 2011.

On my Twitter timeline, I see numerous tweets everyday about content in newspapers, on television and on radio. Maybe that’s just an indication of who I follow, but it points out that a decent amount of the content on social media is about traditional media.

Newspapers still reach a significant number of readers. If you had a choice of getting a feature story in your local metropolitan daily paper or on the most popular local blog, which would you choose?

Television still reaches huge numbers of viewers. Would you rather have coverage on a morning TV news show or would you rather post your Youtube video to your Facebook page?

Radio still has tons of listeners. Would you rather your event get a mention from a top morning drive radio show or would you prefer it get listed on Yelp or a similar website?

You may or may not favor traditional media outlets, but don’t discount their reach and their power.

Sidebar note: Always, ALWAYS, remember that the word “media” is plural.

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Go Negative? No.

During election years, the mudslinging is non-stop. The question is repeatedly asked, “Why are there so many negative ads?” The quick and easy answer is “because they work.”

Well, if negative messages are so successful for politicians, why don’t businesses use them in their campaigns? That answer here is not so quick and easy.

A political campaign is a fleeting thing, often followed by peacemaking among the various rivals. Those nasty spots, complete with name-calling and unflattering images, are forgotten when it’s over. A candidate either wins or loses and moves on to the next chapter.

Saying negative things about a business competitor in an ad or in a PR campaign may or may not be effective. A business that rips its competitor by name may be seen as an arrogant bully. The organization may be seen as desperate to get attention. The negative message may distract from the main message(s). It may leave a bad taste that doesn’t go away as quickly as the political spot aftertaste disappears. Going negative is bigger risk for a business than it is for a candidate.

While competition may be cutthroat in certain industries, to go “mano-a-mano” with a business rival can have bad results. In 2011, Facebook hired the Burson Marsteller PR firm to pitch media outlets, encouraging media to report on Google’s alleged privacy invasions. This was to have been a “stealth” effort. When the Facebook scheme was exposed, the depths of this bitter rivalry were exposed and Facebook looked petty.

Maybe Facebook had a valid complaint about Google’s 2011 policies, but the way they made the point was clumsy. Would Facebook have done better to hire a PR firm to get the word out about good things Facebook was doing regarding user privacy, rather than to tip reporters about bad things they claimed Google was doing?

Although brand differentiation may necessarily require mention of a competitor’s shortcomings, in most cases brands should do it respectfully. Unlike in politics, where we know the nastiness will be washed away in due time, the effects of negative advertising and PR campaigns in the real world can linger on. The damage can endure. Also, in business as in politics, today’s competitor may be tomorrow’s partner.

Trash talking may be standard operating procedure in a political campaign, on a basketball court or on a reality TV show. But in business, be careful if you choose to go negative. It can have a negative effect on you.

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Yes, You Can Create Compelling Content!

Google defines “compelling” as “evoking interest, attention, or admiration in a powerfully irresistible way.”

For me, compelling content is content that is worth my time and attention, content that informs, entertains and/or provokes.

How can you come up with content that is compelling? Here are a few ideas to consider:

  1. Focus on the reader, listener or viewer. What does she or he want to know? What do you do (or what have you done) that is worth sharing?
  2. Offer your expertise. Give a useful tip. Is there something you’ve learned on your journey that can help others in their work? Can you present this tip in an organized, easily understandable way? Do it.
  3. Do you have a criticism of certain practices in your industry? Are there potential “bumps in the road” that you can warn people to steer clear of? Please sound off.
  4. Is there a classic tidbit you can share within an updated context? Is there something you learned years ago that is applicable to your work and your life today? Whether this tidbit is a universally accepted truth or an offbeat radical concept, make it relevant to the current scene and pass it along.
  5. Whether your chosen medium is a written blog post, a video, a podcast, an email or whatever you choose, edit. Present your message clearly and directly with as few digressions as possible. Always respect the time and attention being given to your content by the reader, listener or viewer.

Everybody who is online, watching TV, listening to radio, reading a publication or attending a class today is ready for compelling content. Jump in and give us yours.

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