site traffic

Viral Marketing

Viral Marketing

I wrote last month about how YouTube was a great way to promote your business and how it is fairly easy and inexpensive to create your own videos.

Recently there has been a product that has been given lots of press due to the way the company has marketed it.

Zombie Boy  (Rico Genest)

Dermablend has created a new makeup that will completely cover tattoos. It’s a great product and the usual marketing would have likely been to show before and after images of a person with a small tattoo and how it was covered. Instead they used Rico Genest (a.k.a. Zombie Boy) who has spent the past ten years adding these tattoos bit by bit.

But more remarkable is how this company’s advertising went viral by using him as their model for their new cover up makeup. Watch his transformation here. And below is a behind the scenes video which at one point he says “I think now I’ll go out and get a job!” He seems to be doing alright for himself, although I feel a bit sorry for his grandmother.

YouTube

Did you know that YouTube is used to search for things more than any other search engine next to Google?

This is an interesting fact because if you want to be noticed (professionally or personally) it seems that a video on YouTube is the place to do it.

A video has recently gone viral about melanoma cancer called Dear 16 year old me.  What better way for a charity to get their message out than with a well thought out video.

Remember the Will it blend? videos?  That company has a following, and a healthy bottom line now, because they took humour to show how good their product is.  It’s an idea that many of us could incorporate into our businesses. Your video could be about your charity’s cause, a help video or interviews with customers at events.

Add humour and it could be the next YouTube sensation!

Facebook and Twitter

Twitter is a micro blog, or mini blog. You can only use 140 characters in a single post. It is simple to set up, very public is a one to many platform. One post can go viral. This is done by a Tweet being re-tweeted. When you re-tweet you can have 160 characters to allow for the new address.

How do you get followers? The best way is to mention your account to people on your website, in person and on all your advertising or paperwork. And write interesting posts and they will tell others. You can also follow other Tweets and your name will show up as a follower.

What should you write? The rule of thumb for a business Twitter account is a third sales and marketing, a third general company info ie. General information what you do, how you can help people, about your staff, promoting other clients etc. And finally a third industry news. New and exciting advancements in your particular business, laws that affect your business and re-tweets by followers.

You should have things like free items for followers, valuable knowledge to pass on, calls to action (if they do something in a particular time, they get a bargain)

Another aspect to Twitter that larger firms are using is searching what has been twitted about themselves. It is good to keep your finger on the pulse of how your company is being perceived out in the world. Many large companies are now using Twitter for their customer service.

Facebook

Facebook is different in that you aren’t limited to only a few characters. You can have links, images and movies. It’s almost like a website in itself. It is more structured and has rules. There are distinct pages for businesses called “pages”. Here, your followers are called “fans” rather than “friends”. Pages must be linked to a personal account, so you have to decide who in your company you can rely on to hand it over should they leave the company and who wants it linked to their own account.

Once you set up a Page, you will want to choose an image that best reflects your company, and that is usually your logo.

How often to post to your “wall”?

It’s a good idea to have a plan of things that you will post, so you don’t spend unnecessary time looking for ideas of what to post to your page. Like the Twitter advice, it is important to make it interesting enough so that fans who have signed up want to continue getting your updates and even share it with their friends. If you are a retail store, it could be information about an exciting new product that you are introducing, a restaurant could have a new menu being announced. Non-profits would have information about someone they’ve recently helped or details of an upcoming fundraiser.

How often to post depends on your business and how much time to have to devote to Facebook. You don’t want to post so often that you turn off people, but if you leave it too long they may just forget about you! Likely once a week or bi-weekly for a small business, and a couple of times a week for a big company with lots of news. But it is completely up to your own business.

How to build a following?

Announce your new page through email marketing. You can use an existing database of email contacts to start yourself off. Put it in your email signature so that everyone you email to, gets the news. Put up physical notices in your place of business. Link to it on your website. And tell all of your friends in your Facebook world and your real world that you now have a business presence too.

You can also follow other companies through your page, and they can do the same with you, creating other avenues for creating new customers.

Here is a timely article about customer service and Social Media.

What is a Permalink?

A permalink, or permanent link, is a URL that points to a specific blog or forum entry after it has passed from the front page to the archives. Because a permalink remains unchanged indefinitely, it is less susceptible to link rot.  Link rot, what a great expression.  It basically means a broken link to a page that doesn’t exist any longer, or at least in that location.

What is Net Neutrality and how does it affect you?

Essentially, net neutrality is the idea that no group should be able to discriminate against applications or content found on the Internet. That means no blocking access to web content, and no speeding up or slowing down of specific online services. It means the Internet should be a level playing field for ideas and innovation.

An interesting book by Barbara van Schewick explains how the Internet was originally constructed in “Internet Architecture and Innovation”. She explains that many technologies have an architecture to them that makes them easy or difficult to add other uses to. The Internet was constructed in such an open way in the beginning as the men who designed it had no idea what it would be used for in the future, if at all. They only knew what they wanted to use it for. In fact they thought the idea of people searching for something on the Internet was laughable. But, because they didn’t make any assumptions about what it may be used for, they designed it in a general way that could be easily added to.

This was very important for innovation, because the beauty of the Internet was that as long as you followed the few rules that it had when it was constructed, you could design programs that would work with it. This was important because if it had been constructed differently and you had to convince the architects of the original Internet to change something in their original platform every time to you wanted to design something for it, you would have to convince them that it was worth the effort. And in the history of the Internet, we hear over and over that when an idea was first conceived, people didn’t usually think it would ever work. In 1995 a fellow called Pierre Omidyar thought it would be a neat idea to sell items by auction online. He told his friends about it and they thought he was crazy, but he went ahead and spent a long weekend in his San Jose living room writing the code for this and put it on the web. He just was able to put it out there without having to convince anyone that it was worth it, just to see what would happen. And eBay was born.

Deep Packet Inspection
In the early days of the internet, you could use it without anyone knowing what you were doing on it. Your internet provider (or IP) didn’t know whether you were sending emails, uploading websites or downloading music. However, now your IPs employ something called “deep packet inspection”. When data has to be transmitted, it is broken down into similar structures of data, which are reassembled to the original data chunk once they reach their destination. This is how anything you do over the internet is sent. Deep Packet Inspection came about when viruses started to appear and caused more and more problems for internet users. A packet is made up of different information such as the source IP address, the destination IP address, the sequence number of the packets, the type of service, flags and other information. By reading these packets, IPs are able to filter out the viruses before they reached their own network and your computer. However now they are using this inspection for totally different purposes and that is what Net Neutrality is all about.
The argument about Net Neutrality is this: Internet providers think they should control what goes over their networks to keep its operation fair to all. However others feel they are stifling innovation by trying to control information that detracts from their own business interests. The eBay story is important to the idea of innovation over the internet. Because the internet was so open, this fellow was able to just write up some code, put it on line and see if anyone would find it as good an idea that he did. He didn’t have to ask anyone’s permission to put the site up, didn’t need any start up funds from anyone, he was just a smart guy who saw the potential of something and went ahead and did it. Google has a video program called Google video. It hoped to be something like YouTube. Likely though, you’ve never heard of it. Because YouTube was a better product and easier to use, people just voted with their clicks. This is what people are afraid of losing if the internet loses what Barbara van Schewick calls being Internet Agnostic. The internet providers claim they need to control what is happening on their networks so certain programs and people don’t hog all the bandwidth, but there are already tools to solve those problems without distorting the level playing field among their competition and classes of applications.

Some examples of how this inspection has not been agnostic:

  • In 2005, Telus blocked access to hundreds of websites during a dispute with its labour union (sites and blogs about the dispute),
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  • Shaw attempted to levy surcharges for Internet telephony services
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  • Rogers quietly limited bandwidth for legitimate peer-to-peer software application (because it competed with their own VoIP offerings)
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  • and Videotron mused publicly about establishing a new Internet transmission tariff that would require content creators to pay millions for the privilege of transmitting their content.
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In Europe, most mobile providers won’t allow their customers to use Skype over the network because it competes with their own products.

Throughout the history of the internet, the low cost innovators have been the ones that created the most important applications that we use today, eBay, Flicker, Blogger, Facebook, Twitter. If we had lived in a world where you had to have investment, none or few of these innovations would exist today.

Now, you may ask, why shouldn’t the network providers be able to regulate their own networks? After all, they set them up? Well that is true, but they also get a lot of public money to help them. And like a car company can build their cars whatever way they like, they still have to adhere to regulations that make things fair and safe for the users. And the internet is even more important because it is one of the central infrastructures of our time. We communicate, study, work and generally stay in touch over it. And we can’t allow them to shape the future of the internet for their own commercial interests and not the interest of the public that uses it and now relies on it.

In the end, we don’t want network providers to be able to stifle the innovation that the internet is famous for. And we would like to continue to have the freedom to decide for ourselves what the better applications are. Let’s hope that Net Neutrality can continue.

Sources:

“Internet Architecture and Innovation”. by Barbara van Schewick – Spark Interview with by Barbara van Schewick – CBC, Spark

Michael Geist – his blog at www.michaelgeist.ca

Welcome to blogging!

Welcome. I’ve been promoting the idea of a blog to a few of my clients now, and it seemed a bit ironic that I didn’t have one to promote my own website and business. Blog is short for “web log” which is kind of an online diary. However, there are a lot of different kinds of blogs now, and most writers have one that they post to daily.

Blogs are now so commonplace, that I saw an article just today that a group of blogging journalists are trying to form themselves into a union to protect themselves and get health care! This is how mainstream blogs now are. As a person who owns a business you may think “I pay my web designer to do that sort of work”. However, there are a lot of reasons why you should still consider adding the component of a blog to compliment your site.
In a conference I went to a few months ago, the presenter writes in his blog at least a couple of times a month. This created interest for people who want to know what he is up to and what specials his business – travel – are promoting. But I was searching the web last week for some information and found another radio broadcast from Australia and these guys are professional designers who were saying the same thing!
The fellow I listened to said that there were a few reasons why having a blog increased site traffic.

  1. The structures of blogs are search engine friendly (they are often written in HTML with CSS (cascading style sheets), which cuts out a lot of design code to get to the meat of your message.
  2. It uses basic HTML. (the language that websites are written in) A lot of sites have Flash, lots of images etc. and they aren’t picked up as pure information.
  3. Each post has an individual title page. These title pages are what the search engines use in their searches. And rank them as important.
  4. Most blogs have links to other sites, and as I’ve mentioned before, that means site popularity.
  5. Your content is FRESH! I have clients that I did sites for three years ago, and they do not feel it important to update their sites at all. Not even when they don’t necessarily sell the same things any longer. Your customers will be bored and the search engines will be too.
To give you an example of what you would put in your blog would be a friend of mine who has a perennial business. It is a large farm and she is promoting it all the time. But if you know anything about the garden trade, people stock up on all their plants pretty early in the spring and summer and later on in the year her place is pretty quiet. But she has beautiful perennials that come into their own later in the season, that so many people are missing! With her blog, she can write about and include photographs of all the flowers that are blooming right now! Pictures of how her gardens are looking later in the seaon and even photographs of the animals that come to drink from her pond or just pass by. This is pretty handy for you, the customer, as you can keep an eye on her blog and not have to drive out there every couple of weeks. And she doesn’t have to pay me to add more pictures each time, as a blog is straightforward to add messages and images to. Think email. It’s not difficult.
You can give advice about the product or industry that you are in. Any news that may affect your business or may have your customers worried. It is a personal touch. The blog entry doesn’t have to be long either, just a paragraph at least once a week. You’ll see your traffic start to improve. So you can learn along with me, I’ll let you know what improvements I see to my site traffic now that the cobbler has finally made shoes for his children! (you know what I mean).
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