Monday, January 24, 2011

6 Pros and Cons of Finishing what you start

I have been on both sides of this and the finishing has always been worth it. For some reason it juts is harder then other times to finish. Has this happened to you? I find when I focus on why I am doing it helps. If I don't get motivated by my why, I rarely finish. If I must finish I find a why that matters or a bribe myself with a reward that gets me excited to finish.

Do you have any tips you can share that have worked for you?

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The Pros and Cons of FinishingWhy do we bother finishing anything we start if it's not worth our time? And why would we leave ever waste our time working on something we won't finish? Here's why you should and shouldn't finish what you started.

PRO: We All Want a Sense of Accomplishment

The Pros and Cons of FinishingFinishing what you started gives you a great sense of accomplishment. Even if it's not something most of us consider fun—like cleaning your house—it's incredibly rewarding to know you accomplished the task anyway. You may not like every project, but if you get started you ought to finish. The sense of accomplishment gives you the self-esteem to know that you can get through anything you set your mind to, even if it's not always your favorite thing to do. You're not going to be able to always do the things you want to do, so it's best to build up a tolerance and the ability to handle the bad along with the good. In the end, you'll be a stronger and better worker.

CON: You Have to Start to Know if Something is Worth Finishing

The Pros and Cons of FinishingIf you come up with an idea that you think is fantastic, you may start working and find out it's a complete waste of your time. Why should you bother moving forward with that idea if it turns out to be a dud? Sometimes you have to start a project to really know if it's worth large amounts of your time. Finishing a crappy project isn't going to do anyone much good. At best you've wasted your time. At worst you'll be afraid to start new projects with the fear that you'll have to finish them even if they suck. Allow yourself to abandon things when they ought to be abandoned.

Comic by Nataliedee

PRO: You Don't Know The Future

The Pros and Cons of FinishingYour life is guaranteed to be boring if you never allow yourself to be surprised. The world has a capricious nature and, if you're open to it, you might discover incredible things you wouldn't if you closed yourself off. Let's say you started watching a movie and, 30 minutes into it, you hate it. You decide to leave. Perhaps the rest of the movie will be terrible, but perhaps you'll learn something incredible or gain something more valuable from the experience that you'd be abandoning if you didn't stick around. You never know what's going to happen, and if you act like you do you'll miss out on a lot. When you commit to finishing what you started you gain new possibilities that you wouldn't otherwise have.

CON: You Know What's Important

The Pros and Cons of FinishingYour time is valuable and you generally know the things that matter. If you hate something, don't waste time on it. There is not enough time in the world to remain open to everything you encounter. You can't read and answer every email. You can't finish everything on your to-do list. You can't see every movie you want to and you shouldn't. Some of them are going to suck. If you encounter a crappy movie, walk out. You have better things to do. There's a reason we prioritize our lives: if we didn't, we'd never sleep. Without priorities, choosing A over B, and cutting our losses, we'd never get anything done. Remaining open to every possibility in the world is romantic and idealistic, but it's hardly realistic. Be smart and don't bother finishing anything that doesn't seem to offer any real benefit.

PRO: You Made a Commitment, and You Should Keep It

The Pros and Cons of FinishingIt's one thing you abandon something on your own, but if you've made a commitment to somebody you've made a promise. When you agree to help somebody with something, they've put their trust in you. They believe you're going to help them. If it's something you might not be able to do or, perhaps, don't actually want to do but just want to help, don't commit in the first place. It's better to be unable to help in the first place than abandon someone after you've made a promise, so if you've made the commitment you better stick to it.

CON: Keeping Commitments That Make You Miserable Doesn't Help Anybody

The Pros and Cons of FinishingThere's no question that making a commitment to help somebody is an important promise, and it definitely sucks if you have to bail, but who hasn't been in a situation where you promise to help somebody but something unforeseen happens? Or you didn't accurately predict how you'd feel? Or you simply made a mistake? Continuing to work on a project you hate out of obligation is just going to make you miserable, and that's going to make the people you're working with miserable. Additionally, you're probably going to produce a bunch of miserable work. This doesn't help anybody. Keeping the commitment is honorable, but it's not necessarily what's best. Besides, you can always do the right thing and find someone to replace you. That's how it works when you leave a traditional job. Why shouldn't it be the same with one-off commitments as well?

What do you think? Should you always finish what you started or feel free to abandon anything you feel isn't worthwhile? Or are you somewhere in the middle. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Monday, January 17, 2011

6 Key Steps to Make any Change.

This is the perfect addition just after we have all made our New years resolutions. Have you kept any of your resolutions? Are you struggling to keep them.

This will help you recommit or to keep your promise to change.

Any other suggestion or tips you can add that would help others?

Pierre Rattini, CCO, BiZ BuZZ MeDia
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Six Keys to Changing Almost Anything

Change is hard. New Year's resolutions almost always fail. But at The Energy Project, we have developed a way of making changes that has proved remarkably powerful and enduring, both in my own life and for the corporate clients to whom we teach it.
Our method is grounded in the recognition that human being are creatures of habit. Fully 95 percent of our behaviors are habitual, or occur in response to a strong external stimulus. Only 5 percent of our choices are consciously self-selected.
In 1911, the mathematician Alfred North Whitehead intuited what researchers would confirm nearly a century later. "It is a profoundly erroneous truism," he wrote, "that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them."
Most of us wildly overvalue our will and discipline. Ingenious research by Roy Baumeister and others has demonstrated that our self-control is a severely limited resource that gets progressively depleted by every act of conscious self-regulation.
In order to make change that lasts, we must rely less on our prefrontal cortex, and more on co-opting the primitive parts of our brain in which habits are formed.
Put simply, the more behaviors are ritualized and routinized — in the form of a deliberate practice — the less energy they require to launch, and the more they recur automatically
What follows are our six key steps to making change that lasts:

1. Be Highly Precise and Specific. Imagine a typical New Year's resolution to "exercise regularly." It's a prescription for failure. You have a vastly higher chance for success if you decide in advance the days and times, and precisely what you're going to do on each of them.
Say instead that you commit to do a cardiovascular work out Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m., for 30 minutes. If something beyond your control forces you to miss one of those days, you automatically default to doing that workout instead on Saturday at 9 a.m.
Researchers call those "implementation intentions" and they dramatically increase your odds of success.
2. Take on one new challenge at a time. Over the years, I've established a broad range of routines and practices, ranging from ones for weight training and running, to doing the most important thing first every morning without interruption for 90 minutes and then taking a break to spending 90 minutes talking with my wife about the previous week on Saturday mornings.
In each case, I gave the new practice I was launching my sole focus. Even then, in some cases, it's taken several tries before I was able to stay at the behavior long enough for it to become essentially automatic.
Computers can run several programs simultaneously. Human beings operate best when we take on one thing at a time, sequentially.

3. Not too much, not too little. The most obvious mistake we make when we try to change something in our lives is that we bite off more than it turns out we can chew. Imagine that after doing no exercise at all for the past year, for example, you get inspired and launch a regimen of jogging for 30 minutes, five days a week. Chances are high that you'll find exercising that much so painful you'll quit after a few sessions.
It's also easy to go to the other extreme, and take on too little. So you launch a 10-minute walk at lunchtime three days a week and stay at it. The problem is that you don't feel any better for it after several weeks, and your motivation fades.
The only way to truly grow is to challenge your current comfort zone. The trick is finding a middle ground — pushing yourself hard enough that you get some real gain, but not too much that you find yourself unwilling to stay at it.
4. What we resist persists.
Think about sitting in front of a plate of fragrant chocolate chip cookies over an extended period of time. Diets fail the vast majority of time because they're typically built around regularly resisting food we enjoy eating. Eventually, we run up against our limited reservoir of self control.
The same is true of trying to ignore the Pavlovian ping of incoming emails while you're working on an important project that deserves your full attention.
The only reasonable answer is to avoid the temptation. With email, the more effective practice is turn it off entirely at designated times, and then answer it in chunks at others. For dieters, it's to keep food you don't want to eat out of sight, and focus your diet instead on what you are going to eat, at which times, and in what portion sizes. The less you have to think about what to do, the more successful you're likely to be.
5. Competing Commitments.
We all derive a sense of comfort and safety from doing what we've always done, even if it isn't ultimately serving us well. Researchers Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey call this "immunity to change." Even the most passionate commitment to change, they've shown, is invariably counterbalanced by an equally powerful but often unseen "competing" commitment not to change.
Here's a very simple way to surface your competing commitment. Think about a change you really want to make. Now ask yourself what you're currently doing or not doing to undermine that primary commitment. If you are trying to get more focused on important priorities, for example, your competing commitment might be the desire to be highly responsive and available to those emailing you.
For any change effort you launch, it's key to surface your competing commitment and then ask yourself "How can I design this practice so I get the desired benefits but also minimize the costs I fear it will prompt?"
6. Keep the faith.
Change is hard. It is painful. And you will experience failure at times. The average person launches a change effort six separate times before it finally takes. But follow the steps above, and I can tell you from my own experience and that of thousands of clients that you will succeed, and probably without multiple failures.

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Keyword and 4 more ways to get your video played

This article will help you get your video found, especially helpful if you are a YouTube fan.

Find out what the keywords are that your niche clients are using to search and use these keywords to create content so they can find you.

Pierre Rattini, CCO, BiZ BuZZ MeDia
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5 Ways to Get More From Online Video
The use of video to tell your story, put a real live face on the company and showcase your products, services and customer testimonials is a very foundational online tactic these days.

As cameras become more sophisticated and cheaper to buy and services such as Vimeo and YouTube provide free and low cost hosting and streaming, small business owners are embedding video in blog posts and web pages with increasing ease.

There is one aspect of this tactic that is often overlooked however, and that’s taking proper care of how you place your videos on the hosting site,  in particular YouTube.

While many businesses seek to draw attention to the video placed on a page on their site, millions turn to YouTube to find information and getting your videos to rank well there may be an extremely important way to get visitors to your site.

Here are a couple facts that you should consider when it comes to your YouTube video strategy:

  • YouTube is the world’s 2nd largest search engine – that’s right more people turn to YouTube to find information than Yahoo and  Bing.
  • According to over 25% of YouTube’s traffic comes from Google – people are turning up lots of video in Google searches.
  • Google is committed to something they called Universal Search – this is the act of returning more than textual information for many searches. This includes video, blog posts, images and even near real-time Twitter streams. In some cases getting your videos to rank well can be easier than getting your pages to do so.

Below are five things to consider as you begin to optimize your video assets on YouTube.

Do your research – Use the YouTube Keyword Tool – Most people are familiar with Google’s keyword research and related search tools, but did you know that YouTube has the same tools?

By visiting and using these tools you can find some great insights about video topics that are hot and ways to optimize your video content to take advantage of what people are searching for on YouTube.

Describe and Tag Well – One of the first things you can do is make certain that you do all you can to help YouTube know what your video is about. (Of course you’ve got to make it public first) This includes the file name (don’t use newmovie.m4v use importantkeyword.m4v), description, tags and categories.

Make sure you pick the right category – there is no business category, but I’ve found HowTo and Style to be the best for my videos.

Use your description to describe what is going on in the video. You’ve got lots of room here, but don’t cram keywords in, make it a thorough description and include a link back to you site. Use all of tags that work and include a few variations. (Get your keywords in the description within the first 20 or so words too.)

Annotations and Transcripts are Key – YouTube allows you to annotate or add notes to your video that show when people watch. This is a great way to emphasize content, show links that you mention, or point out other related videos you’ve made. It also adds content that Google may index in some cases.

You can also create and entire transcript that is used by hearing impaired viewers using Closed Captioning. CaptionTube makes it easy to do and the transcript can go a very long way towards helping your video rank well.

Call to Action – One of the things I notice quite often is that people spend a great deal of effort creating videos that simply end. I think this is because the videos are created to go on a web page that has lots of information and a call to action.

If your video is to stand alone and ranks well on YouTube, the video itself must contain a verbal and visual call to action. End your videos telling and showing what people should do next.

Spread the Love – Once you’ve done your work on YouTube it’s time to spread your video to other places. Here’s a list of video sites beyond YouTube for starters, but many people find that using a tool like TubeMogul to automatically submit to video sites and track traffic is the best way to go.
fredcamino via flickr

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Facebook Statistics and Facts for 2011 that businesses should know.

After reading this I am reassured that if any business is not on Facebook they will be forgotten, or at minimum lose a tremendous amount of business and brand development.

What is your take?

Want to see some interesting comparisons, click on the link at the bottom of this article from 6 months ago. "The Ultimate List: 100+ Facebook Statistics...

Pierre Rattini, CCO, Biz Buzz Media
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Facebook Statistics, Stats and Facts for 2011 are starting to roll out, and here is the first infographic to wrap them all up thanks to Online Schools. With over 500 million users, Facebook is now used by 1 in every 13 people on earth, with over 250 million of them (over 50%) who log in every day. The average user still has about 130 friends, but that should expand in 2011.
48% of 18-34 year olds check Facebook when they wake up, with 28% doing so before even getting out of bed. The 35+ demographic is growing rapidly, now with over 30% of the entire Facebook user base. The core 18-24 year old segment is now growing the fastest at 74% year on year. Almost 72% of all US internet users are on now Facebook, while 70% of the entire user base is located outside of the US.
Over 700 Billion minutes a month are spent on Facebook, 20 million applications are installed per day and over 250 million people interact with Facebook from outside the official website on a monthly basis, across 2 million websites. Over 200 million people access Facebook via their mobile phone. 48% of young people said they now get their news through Facebook. Meanwhile, in just 20 minutes on Facebook over 1 million links are shared, 2 million friend requests are accepted and almost 3 million messages are sent.


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WARNING: Your Facebook Security is at Risk

I hope I have your attention. The important thing is that we understand what we risk by providing specific information. Business and personal information and data is a key component of our facebook profiles. This article provides valuable insight so you can be as safe as possible and aware of what information you are sharing with developers.

Pierre Rattini, CCO, BiZ BuZZ MeDia
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Facebook has begun allowing developers to ask users for their mobile phone number and home addresses in a move that will show the best and worst of the Facebook Platform. Most critics have immediately focused on how greedy developers will request the data in order to spam users, which is a valid concern. But the access will also enable the creation of apps that keep friends connected via SMS and facilitate ecommerce by pre-populating delivery details.
Though the risks are high, Facebook should not impede innovation for fear of spammers, but instead push forward while minimizing negative outcomes by helping users make more informed decision.

Reduce Risk through Clarity

The biggest problem with access to contact information is that the permission requests for these highly sensitive data fields are not distinguished from requests for more benign data like a user’s Event RSVPs or privileges like publishing to their stream. Some apps ask for a stack of a half dozen permissions, so users have learned to blindly click “Allow” to speed through to the desired application rather than read through them, assuming they aren’t giving away anything too valuable, or can revoke access later.

Facebook should slow users down and make the dangers of permitting access to contact info clearer by making this request a separate step with a bold warning, rather than a quiet, uniform addition to the list of permissions users are familiar with, as we suggested upon seeing the announcement. This would reduce the threat without forcing Facebook to adopt an unscalable system such as approving developers’ access to this part of the Graph API on a one-by-one basis.
Meanwhile, the change could prompt unscrupulous developers to build app that intentionally ask for a lot of permissions, that pull the contact information from unsuspecting users. If they succeed, users will become inundated with spam, blame Facebook for this negative experience, and trust and quality in the Platform will drop.
It’s important to remember that Facebook has long prohibited developers from sharing any user data with third-parties. Users have been granting permission to some kinds of valuable data, including their current location and email address, without widespread problems.
When there have been issues, such as when data broker Rapleaf and developers were caught buying and selling User IDs that did not even contain private data, Facebook has policed accordingly. Data privacy is an inherent problem with developer platforms, but the issues are balanced by the benefits generated by the fun and useful apps that live on them.
One troubling fact is how Facebook announced this major change. Instead of in a dedicated post with mention of the potential risks, it was merely part of a weekly dispatch about bug fixes and migration deadline extensions — with no commentary on its impact. It was published on Friday evening of a three-day weekend,  at 8:16pm PST, diffusing immediate feedback, and later the post’s timestamp was changed to 6:00pm. If people are going to trust that the site has their well-being in mind, Facebook needs to concentrate on mitigating risks for users, not minimizing backlash to itself.
The Rewards of Mobile Phone and Address-Aware Apps
There are many benefits to allowing developers to ask users for their contact information. Mobile phone number access could  power apps that act as up-to-the-minute communication hubs between groups friends, allowing members to be notified by SMS when friends are nearby, want to plan an event, or upload new content. Home address access could let ecommerce sites pre-populate delivery details during checkout, leveling the playing field so smaller merchants can compete with established giants like Amazon that have already forced users to type in their address manually.
Other potential apps could allow you to share an electronic business card with others; get text message updates about group deals, news, or game activity; discover businesses that are close to home, or instantly sign up to receive physical catalogs or coupons via snail mail. While Facebook’s hasty development might challenge the beliefs of some, it doesn’t make sense to delay these useful additions users might somehow be harmed.
Many technologies come with associated risks. Airplanes crash and medicines have side effects, but these advances as well as platforms like Facebook’s, are the future. The user base will need education so they understand how to recognize and assess risks for themselves, and this first incarnation of mobile phone number and home address extended permissions doesn’t provide it. However, Facebook is doing the right thing by giving users the choice of what to share, even if its currently doing it in the wrong way.

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Friday, January 14, 2011

ROI and Social Media Marketing is possible

Tracking your return on investment (ROI) is definetly possible today. This is a great start to explaining what is involved.

Have you found a tracking method you would recommend?

Pierre Rattini, CCO, BiZ BuZZ MeDia
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In just a few short years, the widespread belief that social media was either not a viable advertising/marketing platform or an inferior one has been turned on its ear (and the experts who stated such are praying that nobody checks their blog archives). However, while tracking web traffic has been nearly perfected (along with the practice of optimizing said traffic through keywords), the same cannot be said when considering viral traffic through networks like Twitter and Facebook. However, a few savvy companies have swooped in to fill the void.
One of the premier names in the tracking and optimizing of social media content is the cheekily titled Originally the flagship product of Snowball Factory, its success (and catchy name ) have seen it become a brand in its own right.  The website describes its service as ROI (Return on Investment) measurement for social media marketing. Co-founder and technical lead Laurie Voss expands:
“In a general sense we are a “social media” company, and that’s quite a crowded space. But more specifically we are a social media publishing and analytics service, and that’s a much smaller field. We are often compared to, because of our use of shortened URLs as one method of tracking content, but they are really aiming for the consumer market while we are focussed more on helping people whose job it is to publish content on social media do it better, by better understanding which of their users are sharing, where to, and what kind of traffic that sharing is driving back to them.”
When asked how one might simplify things even further for a layman, Voss stated:
“…Usually the way I describe it is “Do you share things on Twitter and Facebook and wonder how many people are actually seeing those things? What if you could know not just how many people, but which people? What if you could use that information so you could better decide what content to share in future?” That’s what we do. We make you better at sharing, which is better for you and more interesting for your customers.”
The genesis of was back in 2008 when co-founder Jonathan Strauss approached Voss with the idea for an early incarnation of the product. While Voss (who was a co-worker of Strauss’ during the later’s tenure at Yahoo) was intrigued, his still existing contract with Yahoo prohibited him from joining Strauss at the time. After leaving Yahoo, however, Strauss invited Voss to join the company not just as technical lead; but due to what Strauss considered formative input, co-founder. As with most any dedicated internet startup, the company is a streamlined one: Strauss serves as CEO, and assisting Voss are a Front-End Engineer and Back-End Engineer. recently performed their first non-technical hire in the form of a Product Marketing Manager, whose duties are described as “to communicate our message more effectively to new and existing customers, and incorporate their feedback into the product.” has managed to build up quite a client list and now serves tens of millions of redirections a day. While often compared to companies directed at the consumer market such as (due to the use of shortened urls as one method of tracking content), is “focussed more on helping people whose job it is to publish content on social media do it better, by better understanding which of their users are sharing, where to, and what kind of traffic that sharing is driving back to them.”
Although their client focus and technical levels may differ, social media analytics companies and products all rely on one ever evolving entity: earned media. While continuing to use ‘free media’ as a synonym may not always be literally correct, it largely refers to unpaid promotion and publicity (as opposed to conventional advertising.) Before the internet this would often refer to promotion through news reports, reviews or editorial influence. The latest and greatest earned media battleground, however, is social media. And according to Voss, it’s quite a lucrative one.
…It’s a relatively new development that traffic from earned media has become as big or bigger than paid. That’s really the opportunity we’re seeing and the problem we’re trying to solve. People have got quite good over the years at tracking web traffic and optimizing it through keyword-based ads, but viral traffic from Twitter and Facebook has remained an unpredictable gamble — but there’s no reason it should remain that way.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 now has Foursquare Business Pages

Foursquare located at now has Foursquare Business accounts.

The location based company just announced this for both Merchant location and others that don't serve clients at a location. These new options I believe will help Foursquare compete in the competitive location based marketing platforms.

To see more go to Http://

Pierre Rattini, CCO, BiZ BuZZ MeDia
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Today, location-based social network Foursquare launched business pages for brick-and-mortar small businesses as well as for large brands who may not have a store-front but want to engage Foursquare's userbase. This launch is a big step forward for Foursquare, which previously had little in place to help businesses market to users of its platform.
Let's take a quick look at what is available to small business owners and larger brands.

Foursquare Business Pages for Venue Owners

foursquare1 resized 600
For a business that has a physical location, Foursquare has opened up new marketing opportunities on its platform and compiled a three-step quick-start guide. Venue owners should first claim a business location, then create a special for users who check in, and finally analyze data from their Foursquare campaigns to generate maximum foot traffic. A Foursquare special is traditionally some type of discount at a specific location. For example, a retail store may offer a 10 percent discount on one item if a person checks into their location on Foursquare.  The idea behind specials on Foursquare is to create an other that makes people want to check-in, so that your business will be exposed to that person's Foursquare friends.
foursquare 2 resized 600
In addition to allowing businesses with retail locations to run campaigns, Foursquare is also providing eduction on their platform to business as seen in the image above. However, the analytics provided to venue owners might be the most interesting piece of the entire offering. Among some of the data provided you can find total daily check-ins over time, repeat and unique customers and time of day of check-ins.

The bottom line is that if you are a venue owner, you should at least claim your venue, and consider offering a special.

Foursquare Business Pages for Brands

foursquare brands resized 600
From the early days of its service Foursquare worked with major brands that did not have a physical location to create customer badges and other campaigns. Today, brands have specific opportunities to leverage the Foursquare community for marketing. Foursquare is going to continue to do what they call Partner Badges, a paid sponsorship that results in a custom badge related to a brand that Foursquare members can unlock after checking-in at specific location.

Additionally, with this launch, Foursquare is allowing businesses without retail locations to create a page on Foursquare. The page contains the business logo, tips that the business as left at Foursquare venues, the option to follow that business on Foursquare. The page also includes links to that businesses profile on other social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Unfortunately, Foursquare has not yet launched a web-based tool for creating your page, so currently businesses must complete a form and submit it to Foursquare. On its website, Foursquare notes that it could take as long as 2 weeks for a page to be completed, once a form is submitted.

Marketing Takeaway

Location-based social networks are still developing, but have gained a critical mass in some markets. Examine the Foursquare community in the geography of your target market and determine if your business should leverage one of Foursquare's new features for businesses. However, if your are a retail business, you should claim your venue now to protect your brand, even if you are not planning on using Foursquare for marketing at this time.

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Amber Alerts Via Facebook. A Business marketing strategy we can copy.

No question this is great news and powerful addition to the amber alert system. From a social media marketing standpoint i believe it brilliant. It ties together something we all would say is a good thing and Facebook benefits.

What can your business do on facebook or another social media marketing platform that can tie your audience to a positive message and your companies brand? Brainstorm ideas and when you figure it out leverage this to benefit your niche audience and your brand.
Pierre Rattini, CC), BiZ BuZZ MeDia 
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In an interesting tie between government and Facebook, users will soon be able to receive AMBER (America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response) Alerts on the site about children abducted in their area. The deal is made possible through a partnership between the company and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. It’s another sign that web services like Facebook and Twitter are becoming the fastest ways to disseminate information to the largest number of people.
The partnership could pave the way for Facebook becoming a medium for disseminating other types of emergency information, such as warnings about natural disasters, product recalls, violent crime, and national security.
Facebook will reveal more details about the program at a press conference being held tomorrow in Virginia on the fifteenth anniversary of the death of Amber Hagerman, whose abduction was the impetus for the AMBER Alert. The bulletins, which are traditionally distributed via television, radio, and through roadside signs, started being sent to AOL users who requested them in 2002. AMBER Alerts are available via SMS, and the Ontario, Canada Provincial Police set up a Facebook app last year to help inform locals about abductions.
The bulletins have reportedly helped save 525 children to date. Facebook previously worked with the U.K.’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center to offer an allowing people to report child predators and other inappropriate behavior on Facebook
Notifications of nearby abductions could potentially be shown as Facebook home page prompts or inserted into the news feeds of users, and could be opt-in or op-out. The news feed would be a particularly effective medium because the bulletins would be visible across different interfaces, such as mobile phones. Since AMBER Alerts often include details about the appearance and vehicles of suspected abductors, getting this information to users outside of their homes is important.
Since so many people are connected to the site, check it frequently, and it can be used to widely forward information, Facebook could become an important way of distributing emergency bulletins. There are some reports that students in lock down across the University of Texas at Austin campus used Facebook to pass along up-to-date safety information during a September 2010 shooting. In the future, it’s possible that governments and other institutions might call on Facebook to help warn people of impending tsunamis or tornados, tainted food products, fleeing suspects in violent crimes, or even terrorist attacks. If news of celebrity deaths can spread so fast, its reasonable to hope Facebook’s viral nature could also serve the public good.
Facebook recently reached an agreement with state and local agencies regarding how the government would interact with the site. The deal facilitates the creation of Pages for these agencies that could distribute community information, and also demonstrates Facebook’s willingness to cooperate with officials. The press conference with implementation details for the Facebook AMBER Alerts will be streamed at 10:30am EST on the Facebook Washington DC Page’s Livesteam app.

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6 ways to evaluate your email marketing programs strengths

If you have an interest in email marketing I believe you will get a lot of benefit from this article. Thanks Georgia Christian for one of the best articles I have read.
What email program would you recommend for small to mid sized businesses?

Pierre Rattini, CCO, BiZ BuZZ MeDia

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6 quick ways to evaluate the strength of your email campaign

There are a number of metrics available for you to use in order to critically evaluate the effectiveness of your email campaign. To some people they seem intimidating, but in fact they are relatively easy to understand, and will enable you to successfully track the most important aspects of your campaign.
We’ve looked at 6 of the most popular metrics, which if you follow carefully and use the data gathered effectively, will take your campaigns from strength to strength.
1. Delivery Rates
It has been estimated that nearly 20% of all permission-based email messages are mistakenly blocked by ISP’s. Having your subscribers consent doesn’t guarantee that your email is going straight to their inbox. If the email isn’t getting delivered, it’s either being sent to/from an invalid email address or it doesn’t adhere to anti-spam laws. Take the time to test your campaign before it gets sent out.
Most good email services have spam filters so you can automatically check each campaign for “spammy” words and amend them if the spam score is too high. You can also increase the chances of your email being delivered by asking your subscriber to “add this email to your address book”.
Interesting stat: Canada has the highest non-delivered rate, blocking almost 14% of permission-based email. The United Kingdom boasts the lowest non-delivered rate, blocking only 10% of opt-in email. (Source – Emailstatcenter)
2. Open Rates
Assuming your message reached the inbox (good job!), your subscribers still have to open it. If your subject line isn’t compelling enough then it’s simply going to get ignored or deleted. You need to follow every best practice available here. Make sure your subscriber knows exactly who is sending the message – your ‘From’ line needs to have your name or that of your company. Sender recognition has a high influence on open rates. If your name is recognised chances are your email will be opened, if not it will continue to be ignored or deleted.
Interesting stat: General business products and services see an average open rate of 23.9%. The industry that has the highest open rates is agriculture, with an average of 25.3%. (Source – EmailStatCenter)
3. Click-through rates
CTR’s are almost entirely dependent on their relevant and personalised content – get this right and you are on your way to achieving the email results you desire. Ensure that you segment and target your audience correctly, so that each recipient who opens your message feels as though it is directed exclusively at them.
Demographics, geography, purchase history and frequency of purchase can all be used to make sure the right email is reaching the right target. Keep your campaigns simple. Stick to one or two offers and links, if subscribers are overloaded with choices, chances are they won’t take anything. A little bit of urgency goes a long way at this stage. If subscribers see that your offer is going to expire today/tomorrow/within 24hrs they are more likely to act NOW, which is exactly what you want.
Interesting stat: General products and services see average CTR’s of 3.7%. The industry with the highest CTR is Religious, with an average of 10.5% (Source – EmailStatCenter)
4. Unsubscribe Rates
Start by splitting new email addresses from old ones and evaluating each list separately. If there is a pattern of new subscribers opting out, then you need to see if what you are delivering is exactly what you promised them and what they asked for. If you don’t do this from the outset, your subscriber probably won’t look at anything else you send in the future. If old customers begin to drop off, your campaign may need refreshing. You should look at re-wording and updating any specials, offers or sales you have in place. Your aim here is to make your subscribers remember why they signed up in the first place (hint: your newsletters are interesting and different).
You can improve your unsubscribe rate by offering the option of reducing the frequency of emails your subscribers receive. They might prefer to happily read an email from you once a month as opposed to an irritating email sent every day. By taking this step you are letting them know that you are listening to them and they in turn feel they have some control over what lands in their inbox. It’s a win-win situation, really.
Interesting stat: In 2009, 35% of retailers allow subscribers to reduce the number of emails they receive, up from 16% in 2008 (Source – EmailStatCenter)
5. Conversion Rates
As with CTR’s, your conversion rates are a measure of relevancy. Whether your campaign goal is to encourage a purchase, sign-up to a newsletter, download a white paper, take a survey or make a phone call, you need to make it simple, clear and fast for your subscriber to do it. If the process to convert is timely and complicated you run the risk of your subscriber abandoning the action before they complete it. Your call to action and how you present it is also important here so it needs to be strong and visible.
Interesting stat: As a direct result of receiving an email, 67% of subscribers say they’ve purchased products offline, 71% of respondents researched a specific offer online and 63% of respondents clicked a link in the email to learn more. (source – EmailStatCenter):
6. Subscriber retention rate
According to a 2008 survey by Forrester Research, acquiring new customers can cost five times more than satisfying and retaining existing customers, so your metrics here can literally make or break you. Keep subscribers happy and coming back for more and you are guaranteed frequent sales. Many marketers consider this to be the most important metric to follow; after all, email marketing is about developing and nurturing relationships with customers, so take note of your stats.
Interesting stats (source – Strategic Client Retention):
  • A 5% reduction in customer defection rate can increase profits by 25-125%, depending on the industry.
  • A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect on profits as cutting costs by 10%
  • The average company loses 10% of its customers each year
So there you have it. Ideally, you want to be measuring your success on all of these metrics to get a true reflection of the success of your email campaign. If you are new to the game though, focus on just a couple of metrics to begin with and use the data you receive to improve on each new campaign you send. You take other metrics into consideration as you go.

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