Archive for February, 2010

Inbound Marketing – The Book and the process

Published for Wakefly.com in February 2010

Recently, five members of the Wakefly team got their Inbound Marketing Certification from the Inbound Marketing University at Hubspot. This is a great achievement for our team and we are very proud of them. There has been a strong shift in the industry towards inbound marketing. People are letting go of traditional marketing practices and adopting new innovative processes like ‘Inbound Marketing.”

Being found online is more important for businesses now, than it ever was. Inbound marketing brings together various online channels to market your business successfully in the online space. Many businesses have been prophesying about online marketing and its advantages but very few actually get what inbound marketing really is. Hubspot is one of those few businesses that really gets it. They discuss reasons why Search Engine Marketing, Social Media, Email Marketing and Content Marketing are important. And they provide sound reasoning. They deploy the inbound marketing practices successfully and they practice what they preach. In simple words Inbound Marketing can be defined as a channel to deploy the right services to market in the online/digital realm.

Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan in their book ‘Inbound Marketing, Get found using Google, Social Media, And Blogs’ take you through the journey of innovative and futuristic marketing practices. It’s no longer about creating several billboards and placing them everywhere. Now it’s about placing subtle messages in areas that the new generation is becoming familiar with. It’s about having a ‘unique’ strategy to position your brand in the right platform. In their book they emphasize that ‘having a remarkable strategy in the inbound marketing era is more critical than ever for two reasons.

First, the Internet enables you to reach many more people than you could pre-Internet, but it also opens you to up to potential competitors everywhere (e.g. globally versus locally). The trick is to stand out by becoming as remarkable (unique and valuable) as possible to a segment of buyers.

Secong, the Internet enables remarkable ideas to spread extremely quickly – far more quickly than pre-internet days. Unremarkable ideas languish infound.”

According to Google Public Data in 2008 72.4% of the population in the U.S. was using the internet.

This goes to show that the internet is becoming increasingly important and in our world today all channels of communication and businesses are very internet dependent. In a world like ours it becomes important to adopt practices that help us market successfully on the internet. Inbound Marketing is a book that takes you through the journey of unconventional marketing and introduces you to the domain of ‘inbound marketing’ and ways of leveraging your brand/company on a whole new platform. As the web is changing the way we interact with the world, inbound marketing practices have become really important. This book defines all the key concepts and also provides a step-by-step guide of implementing an inbound strategy.

Inbound Marketing practices can be adopted by communicating effectively with your target audience. It’s all about letting them find you online, letting them stumble upon your website or come across your content. The way to do this is to have remarkable online content, produce blogs, videos, have conversations, to be found in search engines, have a presence on major Social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Buzz, Digg, Youtube etc.) and to communicate through channels that your audience is familiar with. Now it’s all about humanizing your brand to connect to people online, to identify channels that they use and to strategize keeping inbound marketing practices in mind.

Inbound marketing is a remarkable book and is a must read. I recently wrote a review for it on Amazon and I think that anyone who wants to take their business to the next level should familiarize himself with Inbound Marketing. Thanks to @dharmesh on twitter for introducing me to successful inbound marketing.

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Wakefly’s Social Media Blueprint

I spent the last couple of days putting together a Social Media Blueprint for Wakefly Inc. The Blueprint includes tips on leveraging Social Media to create awareness for your brand Online. I am pasting a copy of the Blueprint below:

  • STEP 1 – Socialize! Social media is all about being Social. If you want to use Social Media to direct traffic to your site, you have to be extremely social and active in the Social Media sphere. The more you contribute to communities, answer questions, network etc. the better it is for your brand. The key is to provide great content (or links to it), talk to your followers about their interests and lead conversations. Be human that helps. Initially it’s more about giving than taking back. Once you have established good reputation, traffic would increase. Start by following leading conversations on the internet. All social media platforms have weekly and daily trends. Participate in these trends to take your brand forward.
  • STEP 2 – Get started with a Facebook Account (www.facebook.com). Facebook is one of the most popular Social media networks out there. And now it specifically caters to businesses too. There are many ways that businesses can benefit from the various features of Facebook. One of the key ways is by creating a Facebook Fan page. A fan page is easy to set up and lets you group together your customers/colleagues/friends etc. under a common page. You can invite your friends, colleagues and customers to join this page. You should also add a link to your fan page on your site. You can use this page to facilitate discussions, introduce new products, give updates on your brand, talk about corporate life etc. The fan page is an attempt to give your company a face in the Social media sphere. You can also create Facebook Groups. Facebook fan pages are usually more popular than a Facebook Group. You can also customize the Facebook fan page URL (Uniform resource locator) and turn it into the name of your site. For e.g. www.facebook.com/wakefly
  • STEP 3 – Get started on Linkedin (www.linkedin.com). Where Facebook is more diverse Linkedin focuses on businesses in particular and is more professional. Over the past couple of years Linkedin has gained tremendous popularity and is currently one of the largest professional networks out there. With Linkedin you can create a professional profile for yourself and add fellow colleagues, contacts, customers etc. You can also create a company page to advertise and link your company to the existing network. These two features help you gain prominence on Linkedin. A great way to show your expertise on Linkedin is by creating Linkedin groups on a specific industry topic that may interest other industry professionals. The group should not be your company’s name but should cater to common interests. Check out Wakefly’s Group: Online Marketing for Biotech http://bit.ly/9TZtil . A Group is a great way of facilitating discussion, posting news and job listings and answering industry specific questions. You can also show your expertise by Answering questions on Linkedin’s Answers forum. The more your network grows the better it is for your corporation and brand.
  • STEP 4 – Get started on Twitter (www.twitter.com). Twitter is very different from both Facebook and Linkedin. It allows users to get their message across in 140 characters. The reason that Twitter is important is because it’s increasingly becoming popular with businesses and a majority of your customers are on twitter. You can use twitter to facilitate conversations, share links, comment on your followers questions and direct your followers to the latest news. Twitter helps build your traffic. Twitter is all about having open source conversations with anyone and everyone. It breaks down the boundaries of whom you can reach and target. You can pretty much follow anyone you like and share information with people globally. Like Facebook and Linkedin twitter lets you put up a bio and a link to your website. These links help people find your website.
  • STEP 5 – Create a Blog. The best thing to do is to create a blog as a subdomain to your site. The blog should be www.yourcompany.com/blog or www.blog.yourcompanyname.com for e.g. http://blog.wakefly.com/ . If you don’t have resources in-house to create a blog, you can seek expert help or use a free blogging site to create a blog. Free sites include www.wordpress.com, www.blogspot.com, www.blogger.com etc. Having a blog is important as Social Media is very content driven. A blog can help you create fresh content daily or weekly. And it also allows you to connect with users who might require expert advice on a specific topic in your industry. Having a blog is the best way of offering advice, showing your expertise and forming connections within the industry. It allows users to see how you can market yourself successfully and also presents a professional image in the online world. A blog is about having on-going conversations with people. Once you have a blog, you can share its content on other Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. A Blog also helps you gain more visibility in the Search Engines and allows you to engage in professional dialogue with people online.
  • STEP 6 – Create a StumbleUpon Account (www.stumbleupon.com). StumbleUpon is a site for bloggers. It collects the various blogs out there and groups them together in a single pool. It is also one of the most powerful and popular Social networks out there. You can specify the categories of your blog and add a link to it on StumbleUpon. Once you have set that, StumbleUpon will automatically make it available to searchers looking for specific categories. Remember to keep your blog content fresh and to visit StumbleUpon atleast once a week. Once in StumbleUpon users can like/dislike a blog, comment on it, write reviews and share it on Facebook and Twitter.
  • STEP 7 – Create a Digg Account (www.digg.com). Digg is a news site, its functionality is very similar to StumbleUpon but it is far more popular. Digg lets users post fresh content to its site and the content can be categorized in the various categorizes provided by Digg. Users on Digg can share this content with each other. If your content is very well written and Digg editors feel it’s beneficial to their audience it will appear on the top of the search page on Digg. The whole purpose of Digg is to share news. Remember to Digg other people’s news and constantly comment on articles that you like. The more active you are the better chances of visibility your content has.
  • STEP 8 – Create a Feedburner Account (http://feedburner.google.com). Google Feedburner is one of the easiest ways of sharing your blog content with people. Where other RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed burners can be expensive to install, this one is free and comes with analytics compatibility (it offers analytics for your blog within Feedburner, not for your entire site). RSS is a way of letting your customers, readers or people browsing the internet connect to your blog and get your blog content through their email. Every time you post a new entry your readers will receive an email. This is the simplest and easiest way of sharing content. All you need is a Google (Gmail) account and a link to your Blog. Google Feedburner will link the blog to feedburner and anyone wishing to subscribe to it via email can do so. Google will prompt users to enter their email addresses and sign up to get your blog in their email. You should also put up a Feedburner logo on your blog, allowing users to share your content. The more your content is shared the greater popularity you get.
  • STEP 9 – Create a Google ‘Buzz’ Account (http://www.google.com/buzz). Google Buzz is the latest addition to the Social media family. It is fairly new as it was launched this month (Feburary 2010) but has gained immense popularity in a short span of time. Google Buzz combines your facebook, twitter, youtube, picassa, blog etc. accounts into one place and lets you manage all your social media work from one domain. It is connected to a Gmail account, so it will be best practice to create a Gmail account (www.gmail.com) for your company. It works like Twitter, where in short snippets you can get your message across. When using Google Buzz you can also search for users talking about a common interest/theme and follow them to increase your visibility. Google Buzz prompts discussions and allows better compatibility of various Social networks.
  • STEP 10 – Comment on Other Blogs. Remember Social networking is all about being social. The more active you are the better for your brand. Once you are on Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Linkedin, StumbleUpon and Buzz you will come across various blogs, links, news etc. Remember to comment on articles of your interest. The best thing to do is to only comment on articles where you can add value or give an expert opinion. Doing so shows that you are an authority in a given field. Do not add your link to the comments, as most commenting boxes allow you to add the link in an individual field before publishing the comment and once your comment is visible on the blog/site users will be able to see your company’s URL too.
  • STEP 11 – Be a pro Vlogger (Video Blogger). Video blogging is as important as blogging. As we emphasized earlier, Social media is all about being Social. The best way to be Social is to have a face online, a presence, and a means through which people can relate to you. Put up a video, where you are talking about a particular topic in your industry. Doing this adds further value to your conversations. It helps people see how deeply engaged you are in a particular field and it gives them greater ability to relate to you. Plus, vlogs can be shared easily. It is a great way of advertising your business and promoting your area of expertise. Make sure to keep your videos short and to the point. It is good to make them lively, humorous and low key, rather than long and boring. A vlog should ideally be between 20 seconds to 2 minutes. People have short attention spans on the internet, so keep it brief and interesting. You can create a Video on almost any digital camera and upload it using sites like Youtube (www.youtube.com) and Vimeo (www.vimeo.com). Youtube also allows you to create your very own channel. You can have a channel for your business and invite customers to subscribe to it.

The Buzz about Google Buzz

If you use Gmail frequently you would have seen Google Buzz by now…if you haven’t don’t worry they will email you an extension pretty soon. This post addresses issues related to Buzz and defines what Buzz really is. When I first saw Google Buzz I asked myself hmm what is Buzz? well like the word states it’s a reason for creating ‘hype’ on the internet. It’s Google’s attempt at Twitter and going social. They launched Google Wave last year and honestly Wave is a very interesting platform but it didn’t pick up like the expectations were. In 2009 the market was still dominated by the usual: Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Linkedin etc. StumbleUpon became famous and recently Foursquare has gained a lot of popularity.

So when there are a million Social Networks out there why would you choose Google Buzz? Hmm, the answers to this could be both simple and complicated.

Simple: Because like Apple, Google always tries to do something revolutionary. Google Buzz simplifies Twitter, Facebook, Youtube into one.

Complicated: Well because in some way or the other Google would help supplement your account with multiple things. It will help users use multiple platforms combined in one. It lets you link your Blog, Picassa, Youtube etc. to your Buzz account and share information simultaneously (very similar to what Google Wave does).

Here’s what Google has to say about it, “Google Buzz is a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting. It’s built right into Gmail, so you don’t have to peck out an entirely new set of friends from scratch — it just works. If you think about it, there’s always been a big social network underlying Gmail. Buzz brings this network to the surface by automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most. We focused on building an easy-to-use sharing experience that richly integrates photos, videos and links, and makes it easy to share publicly or privately (so you don’t have to use different tools to share with different audiences). Plus, Buzz integrates tightly with your existing Gmail inbox, so you’re sure to see the stuff that matters most as it happens in real time.”

I love Google products, I am a big fan of Google search, Gmail, Adwords, Analytics, Nexus One, Android etc. I read the Google Blog all the time and when Google Wave came out I was literally addicted to it but I haven’t been that taken by Google Buzz yet. Where the name ‘Buzz’ sounds really cool and saying that I m buzzing is catchy I still don’t feel comfortable about having my social network in my email. I like keeping the two separate. True that there is a turn Google Buzz off button (at the bottom of the Google Buzz page for those of you who want to know).

The reason I like Twitter is that I can connect with people who share a common interest, Facebook stores all my friends worldwide and I can post stuff quickly and share with them. Both Twitter and Facebook offer me the chance to control who sees what and where I go with it.  I know you can unfollow people on Buzz or make sure they don’t follow you or set privacy settings. Even though there are all those options it still doesn’t seem private because it resides in my email and I feel like it’s constantly spying on me.  Put simply having Buzz in Gmail is like having a roommate you don’t like.

Frankly I am not thrilled by the whole Buzz about Google Buzz. I hope Google can improve this technology and convince users like me that Buzzing can be fun and useful. Maybe there will be future enhancements that make this platform very useful and strategic.

Will there ever be new film for Polaroid cameras?

I have been following ‘The Impossible Project‘ – an organization that bought over Polaroid’s instant film division in Netherlands and decided to restore old Polaroid instant films. I thought that was a very cool and innovative project and would help a lot of photographers and Polaroid lovers shoot in film again.

Today, I received news from ‘The Impossible Project’ Press Relations department that the project may be put on hold for some time. Next month ‘The Impossible Project’ was going to showcase it’s work in New York but now due to recent developments this may not happen.

Today, in a Press Release ‘The Impossible Project’ revealed that:

Press Release __ The Impossible Project__8 February 2010

Will there ever be new film for Polaroid cameras?
Impossible encounters a delay in reviving production of analog Instant Film

In 2008 when Polaroid surprisingly discontinued production of Instant Film for traditional Polaroid cameras, analog Instant Photography seemed to be doomed. The Impossible Project saved the last Instant Film Production plant in Enschede (NL), taking on the task of re-inventing analog integral film. Since 1972, integral film production has followed the same recipe. In order to carry instant film production into the 21st century, Impossible had to find new solutions for replacing and upgrading problematic or unavailable components.

Bringing back Instant Film is an intricate process. On the weekend of February 6th Impossible encountered an unexpected problem with one of the components vital for production. This undesireable fact is now engaging all of the Impossible team’s attention and is forcing a rescheduling of the project’s timetable. As such, the NYC press event on 22nd February has to be postponed. The Project leader’s Florian Kaps and André Bosman must give themselves one more month to cope with the Impossible. On

22nd MARCH 2010

they will disclose whether or not their Impossible Project will be possible. At that time, they will present the status of their work, their plans and the products publicly in New York. Details and invitations to the press event will follow. There will be a video of the presentation in New York, and a comprehensive media kit will be available worldwide.

Further updates will be published on www.the-impossible-project.com

The much awaited change

‘Change is the only constant in life.’ This statement is very true. Change has been the only constant in my life. I resigned from Amvona (Epiphany Labs) today and on Monday, February 8th 2010 (insha’Allah) I will start my new job. In the past 3 months at Amvona I did a lot of cool stuff – from managing a team of some brilliant writers to producing Amvona’s social media strategy to actually designing web pages. It was all a roller coaster ride. I have lived with the Amvona Blog for 3 whole months, seen it grow and hope that it reaches the point of stardom.

When making the decision to quit for the first time in life I came to the realization that everything I had worked for in the past 24 years of my life was true. Social Media had power and together people could make a difference. It’s the common interest and ways of communication that we need to find to connect to each other. And once we find that connection people do relate. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin work because people want to connect to those who share something common. The common trends on Twitter, the friends and networks on Facebook and the common businesses and roles on Linkedin all form an important part of our lives.

Having said that I am excited that I will be starting my new role as Account Manager, Online Media with a company that strongly believes in Social Media. Future articles on this blog will focus on the power of the Social Media medium.

So keep reading =) & thank you for following me so far.