January 15, 2011 by Alain Saffel
I’ve been on Twitter for nearly three years now. I guess that sort of makes me an “old timer” on it. I have had a lot of interesting discussions and have seen many interesting things on Twitter.
Lately it seems like half the people who follow me are the “get rich quick” types and I know they won’t be around for long. I don’t bother banning them, but I certainly don’t follow them back.
Once you’ve been Twitter spammed for a while, you begin to see the same, curious signs. Here are some I’ve noticed:
- Their twitter name is X and four digits. ex. @michelle3845
- Their profile picture is the default egg.
- They’re tweeting the same link, over, and over, and over again.
- They’re following 2,000 people, have a few followers and no tweets.
- It’s obvious they’ve just joined Twitter yet profess themselves to be “Internet marketing experts.”
- They are just on Twitter to help YOU get rich (probably via MLM).
- Profile picture is of a semi-nude woman.
- Their profile information is not completed.
- The link in their profile is to a sales letter webpage.
- Their tweets consist of trending topics and a link.
Any signs you’ve seen that you might find curious? I would love to know about them!
Oh, and if you’re new to Twitter, you can interpret the signs I’ve indicated as a list of things not to do on Twitter.
Follow my personal Twitter account: @alainsaffel
Follow my business Twitter account: @pageoneseo
January 14, 2011 by Alain Saffel
The decline of Myspace is sad but not unexpected and now its parent company, News Corp, is rumored to be wanting to pawn it off on some unsuspecting, deep pocketed company out in cyberspace.
I’ve never been that big of a fan of it and don’t really know anyone using it. It seems like it’s mainly dedicated to kids.
So, News Corp is trying to sell it, but who might be interested?
I can see two companies that could have a legitimate reason for looking at it: Google and Apple.
Google has been eager to get into the social networking business and, thus far, their efforts have been rather pathetic. While buying something like Myspace, a failing social network, might be viewed as idiocy, Google could pick it up cheap and have the opportunity to turn it around.
Apple would make more sense to me. Steve Jobs certainly has the track record of being able to turn around failing companies. Myspace used to be cool, has a younger demographic and was/is known for being a place to discover new music.
It would make a lot of sense for Apple to pick up Myspace as its social media property. I believe Apple could definitely turn it around and bring back the cool factor it once had. It also makes a lot of sense from Apple’s perspective and its most successful products: iTunes, iPods and iPhones, not to mention the iPad.
It’s a great fit for Apple and a perfect opportunity to market its products even further; like they need the help.
The real question is will News Corp be asking too much for the failing social network? Probably. They could unload the problem company or let it fail completely. It’s a shame to let 22 million users go find some other place to be social.
Google seems to have lost its cool factor with the failure of Google Wave and the tepid public response to Google Buzz. I am not so sure that Google could bring back the cool factor Myspace desperately needs. Apple could.
August 9, 2010 by Alain Saffel
So, what am I doing in Starbucks? Shouldn’t I be working? Well, I am. That’s the whole point of the new laptop and being in Starbucks. I am getting out of my home office.
Sure, it’s nice, but I find working at home lonely and very depressing. I have enjoyed the solitude at times, but I’m a lot more of a social person than even I realized. I’ve learned a lot about myself recently. It’s one of the benefits of getting older!
Working at every Starbucks in Edmonton
As part of my effort to get out of the house, get some fresh air and get more work done, I came up with the idea to go to my favourite coffee shop and work. Then I thought, why not work at every Starbucks in Edmonton?
I’m not even sure how many Starbucks there are in Edmonton, but I figure there are about 50 of them. I’m going to map out, rate and work at every Starbucks in and around Edmonton over the next couple months.
I thought it would be fun, would be a nice change of pace and give me an opportunity to see parts of the city I wouldn’t ordinarily have a reason to visit.
While I’m at it I am going to take a couple photos, do some reviews and tie everything into Yelp and Foursquare too.
I’m not a coffee snob, well, okay, maybe a little. I’m not really a big fan of Tim Hortons or places that seem to filter a miniscule amount of coffee through an old boot, but I like Starbucks.
I’m going to focus less on the quality of the coffee and more on the quality of the work experience and work friendliness of each location. On that note, I’m going to look at factors such as:
- Busyness – are there a lot of people coming and going?
- Noisiness – it’s hard to work with too much noise
- Power – laptops only have so much battery life, so you need a few outlets.
- Free wifi – you’d think every coffee place would have it. I’m going to make sure.
- Staff – how friendly & attentive are they?
- Seating – are there a lot of good tables conducive to work?
- Security – how’s the neighbourhood? Do I need to “pack heat”?
It should be interesting trying to come up with more than 50 original reviews of the same chain of coffee places. Let’s see how it goes.
On that note, what are some of the qualities you look for in a work location outside of your home or place of business? Do you know of some mobile workplaces in Edmonton I should check out? Let me know.
Starbucks Edmonton reviews
- Starbucks – 9719 – 137 Ave. Edmonton – Aug. 9, 2010 (★★★★)
- Starbucks – Safeway – 9499 137 Ave. Edmonton - Aug 10, 2010 (★)
- Starbucks – 5956 – 153 Ave. Edmonton - Aug 10, 2010 (★★★★)
- Starbucks – 11625 Kingsway Ave. Edmonton – Aug. 11, 2010 (★★★)
- Starbucks – 9404 137 Ave. Edmonton – Aug. 12, 2010 (★★★★★)
- Starbucks – 13682 137 Ave. Edmonton – Aug. 13, 2010 (★★)
- Starbucks – 10387 112 St. Edmonton – Aug. 16, 2010 (★★★★★)
- Starbucks – 12507 102 Ave. Edmonton – Aug. 17, 2010 (★★★★★)
- Starbucks – 15256 127 St. Edmonton – Aug. 18, 2010 (★★★★)
July 14, 2010 by Alain Saffel
A while back I decided to give Foursquare a try. It’s a recent addition to the social media world, and I was quite skeptical about its usefulness when I first heard about it. My skepticism is still there, but as I have tried out the service, I can see how it might be useful, particularly from an advertiser’s perspective.
Foursquare is a mobile social media app that gets users to check in to indicate their location. So, if you’re out for coffee at Starbucks, check in with Foursquare. If you check in at this location more than other users, you could become mayor of that location.
As users check in at different places, they can earn badges. Earning badges is a feature of a couple social media platforms I’m aware of, and give users an incentive to take actions to achieve them.
Some of the badges include things like the Barista badge, where you have to check in at five different Starbucks locations (got that one). There’s the Local badge, where you need to check in at a location three times in a week.
There seems to be a wide variety of badges available and once you’ve added a bunch of friends, you can check out their badges to see the ones you might try for.
That’s really about it for Foursquare. I’m using the Blackberry app, and there is an iPhone app. If you check out Foursquare’s app section, you’ll likely find one for your phone if it’s not an iPhone or Blackberry.
How useful is Foursquare?
Ah, the key question. Really, how useful is a lot of social media? I wondered just how useful Foursquare really would be. Fundamentally it’s a game, but it depends on how you use it. The key will be how Foursquare develops.
It’s probably most important to look at it from the perspective of a check-in location, or potential advertiser. I think these organizations are the linchpin in terms of any value derived from Foursquare and this is primarily why I decided to try it out.
I noticed that Starbucks had offers of price reductions on its drinks if you were the mayor of a Starbucks location. It offers people some incentive to try and become mayor and get the price reduction, but if it’s just a dollar off, it’s not much incentive.
If that dollar off were to be offered to each person who checked in, there’d be more incentive for others to come to that location.
I can see a huge amount of potential for some businesses to offer promotions through Foursquare and they could, naturally, promote it through Twitter. There’s definitely some incentive for Foursquare to increase its user base. I’m not sure how many Foursquare users there are in Edmonton, but there seems to be a fair amount.
Advertisers could offer a limited number of larger gift certificates, say ten $25 gift certificates for the first ten people who come in and say they saw it on Foursquare.
Or an advertiser could draw for a much larger item after a month, offering it only to Foursquare users. Imagine the attention an organization like Future Shop could get if it was offering a draw for a new laptop exclusively to Edmonton Foursquare users who had checked in at a Future Shop.
Perhaps they could make it so they actually had to enter the store and get a daily code word from a manager. Foursquare could modify its apps so that visitors could enter the code word and it wouldn’t be visible to other users.
As if Apple needed the help, they could do a couple things: run contests to get people into their stores, or use products like the iPhone 4 or iPad as prizes through other advertisers. Everyone’s so gaga over the iPhone and iPad that I’m sure Foursquare users would be breaking down the door to get one as a prize.
It almost goes without saying that these types of contests would be promoted through other social media such as Twitter and Facebook, but if you’re doing traditional media such as radio, TV or newspaper advertising, why not include it, or make it the primary focus of those ads?
City of Edmonton event & destination marketing
Cities could really use something like Foursquare to their advantage if they worked in conjunction with events, festivals and destination attractions to promote them online.
My son has been bored already this summer and looking for things to do. I found a good list of things to do in Edmonton and a light bulb went off. Why doesn’t the City of Edmonton use Foursquare to promote events such those in the list I mentioned and use Foursquare as a type of online passport? Edmonton could use help in the branding and promotions department apparently.
Once Foursquare users had checked in at the appropriate venues, they could get a special t-shirt and be entered into a draw for some cool prizes. The city has some great events coming up like the Grey Cup, the Honda Indy and Taylor Hall playing for the Oilers. Why not offer some of those tickets as prizes? How about a grand prize of a $5,000 shopping spree at West Edmonton Mall (or a mall willing to sponsor it)? I’ve talked about the inadequacies of an Edmonton mall promotion before.
It doesn’t have to cost the city much to do it either. It can use social media to promote it throughout Alberta and Western Canada. It could even supplement it with a bit of traditional advertising.
I could go on all day about the different kinds of promotions that are possible and I’m sure there are even more creative people out there who’ll come up with better ones.
Foursquare growth & users
You may have heard of some of the downsides of Foursquare, such as giving stalkers a roadmap of your activities, or potential thieves an indication that you’re not at home. This is a decision we each have to make. If you’re not comfortable with publicizing your location, don’t bother using Foursquare.
I can say that it’s fun checking in at places around Edmonton and seeing what other users are doing or have to say about the places they check in at. A good feature of Foursquare is the ability to post tips about the places they visit.
If Foursquare is to grow, they need to “show me the money.” Sorry, I know it’s a worn out phrase, but it fits. Foursquare will benefit by growing its user base and in doing that, its attractiveness to advertisers. With advertisers on board and good offers to users, more users will be drawn in.
The advertiser offers have to be something that doesn’t require a ridiculous amount of work or cost, are fun and are really worth doing a bit of work for. People today are busy and quickly decide whether something’s worth the effort or not.
I don’t know how much of a budget Foursquare has for promotions, but using some older sales techniques probably wouldn’t hurt. Would it make sense for Foursquare to have a marketing and promotions rep on the ground in a place like Edmonton for six months to a year so they can reach out to local businesses and help them get some innovative promotions off the ground? I think so. Perhaps they could use a few cities around North America as a test case to see how that might work.
You can always wait for these things to happen, or you can short circuit the process and make it happen.
It’ll be interesting to see how Foursquare develops over time and whether it goes in some of the directions I’ve speculated about. There’s nothing saying that potential advertisers out there now can’t use Foursquare as I’ve shown. I certainly haven’t cornered the market on the creative possibilities!
Edmonton has a strong social media community that is eager to participate in innovative products and promotions. I suppose it’s really up to innovative Edmonton marketing companies to get out there and show those potential advertisers the possibilities. I’d say that Foursquare is worth a look from the perspective of users and advertisers, but its value comes from how you use it. Seems to be the same for all social media.
November 30, 2009 by Alain Saffel
Social media and SEO. You hear about them everywhere these days. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. Oh, they’re all great ways to promote your business and you’ll make millions, or so the story goes.
What’s the reality? Social media can be a great tool to promote your business, if it’s done properly. It’s also a great way to connect with your customers and clients. SEO is critical if you want to have your website ranking well in search engines.
If you’re wondering about how to get started in social media, I found a few excellent social media tips to help you get started. What they all boil down to is having conversations with people and you should also realize that social media isn’t going to replace all of your other marketing activities.
I use social media as a marketing tool, but I don’t rely entirely on it. I see social media as an extension of the way business has been done for as long as there’s been business: personal connections. All social media does is make it easier for you to make connections and communicate with them.
I work with a number of clients doing search engine optimization and other services. Social media has been quite beneficial to my business.
Obviously, traffic doesn’t benefit your SEO directly, but indirectly it can. With consistent writing of great blog posts or articles, traffic will keep coming back to your site (a little promotion doesn’t hurt) and those links will also increase.
Traffic - So, you just wrote a great blog post, titled “Top ten online marketing tips for…” Great. If you’ve got a blog with loads of traffic, people will see it quickly. Maybe you don’t have a lot of traffic, but it really is a great post. Why not promote it on Twitter or LinkedIn? Of course it should be a topic that potentially appeals to your audience. Social media is a great way to pull traffic in to have a look at something you’re promoting. With people potentially retweeting and hopefully linking to your great article or blog post, it helps to raise the profile of your site.
Links - As anyone familiar with search engine optimization knows, inlinks are one of the SEO elements that are helpful in increasing your search engine rank for desired keyword phrases and building your Page Rank. If your post really is a good one, there is the potential for those viewing your article deciding they like it enough to link to it from their website or blog.
Articles written with the goal of gathering as many links as possible are often known as “linkbait.” In the eyes of search engines, more links means more authority. More authority means higher search engine rankings.
In the articles I have listed at the bottom of the page there are good discussions about the value of links from within social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. There are some benefits from these links, but they’re limited.
I’m not sure I’d really rely on links coming directly from Twitter results. First, I just don’t see that many search results from Twitter when I’m searching in Google. Second, those results don’t stick around for that long even when you do see them.
There’s always a bit of a honeymoon effect for Twitter results. They may rise quickly, but then disappear almost as quickly. Not only that, but I believe that Twitter’s database may only go back a few months. Apparently Twitter management has indicated they’re saving your Tweets, but they don’t seem to be accessible for a great length of time in search engines.
Social media: not hard to use
Social media can be a great for promotion, conversations and brand building, as well as SEO. I’ve found myself recommending it more and more to clients as a way of promoting their businesses as well. It’s not hard to use social media, but you definitely have to be aware of some of the pitfalls in using social media tools for promotion.
If you’re considering getting into social media and aren’t familiar with it, do some reading. It may be worth getting some social media coaching to help with your social media strategy. Like any kind of marketing activity, it certainly pays to get it right. It can hurt to get it wrong.
More reading on SEO and social media:
November 16, 2009 by Alain Saffel
Being in the field of marketing, I often see marketing campaigns, online and offline, that make me go wow! Then there are the campaigns that make me feel embarrassed for the people who’ve put them on. And then there are those where you wonder just what the hell the marketing people were thinking.
The Kingsway Mall in Edmonton put on one of those “what the hell were they thinking” campaigns to celebrate their grand re-opening recently.
They are putting on a shopping spree. Sounds good. The shopping spree is in New York, London or Paris. Really? Celebrate the grand re-opening of the mall by winning a trip and shopping spree to places that will put the mall to shame? Or, celebrate our grand re-opening by spending all this money somewhere else?
The slogan for the campaign is “see shopping in a whole new light.” I’m hoping they’re referring to Kingsway Mall. If I were to head to London, Paris or New York, I’m sure I’d come back to Edmonton and see how different it is here, and likely the shopping just isn’t as good.
Sure it’s a great prize. I think I missed the point of the campaign though. Wouldn’t it have been better to keep the people in Kingsway Mall here in Edmonton? Imagine the possibilities if they’d done a real push in traditional and online media in Edmonton.
They could get the contest winners on an even bigger shopping spree in Kingsway Mall. Follow them around with photographers and videographers showing how great a time they were having on their shopping spree… at Kingsway Mall! They could be leveraging social media like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr to broadcast the whole shopping spree, but also to pull people from those social media sites into side contests to get them out to the mall as well.
It’s a shame really. They missed a golden opportunity to marry traditional and social media and really do something exciting that would really keep the focus on Kingsway Mall.
Keep people on your site
This situation with Kingsway Mall reminds me of websites that use Google Adsense ads or banner ads to make money. That’s not a bad thing, but I’ve also seen it on some corporate websites where they’re trying to convert visitors to customers.
Adsense can be a lucrative way to make money, particularly when you’ve got a lot of great content and the site is has proper SEO. But then, that’s usually the primary goal of these types of sites: pull the visitors in with great SEO and content, and hope they click on an ad so we can make money! Sounds simple? It is, but it’s not easy.
I just don’t understand why you would want to create a corporate website in hope of convincing visitors to contact you, buy a product immediately or take some sort of action beneficial to them and you.
Instead, you give them a reason to leave your site for something else that may tickle their fancy, all in the hopes of making a few bucks on Adsense. Most people don’t make much on Adsense either, so wouldn’t it make more sense to keep them on your site and hope that they avail themselves of the opportunities your site gives them?
The other thing is that Adsense serves up ads related to the content on your page. So, you could actually end up having Adsense ads from your competitors! Insanity! Yes, I know you can filter the ads, so you can stop it to a degree.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to put your time and effort into making your site better and trying to convert those site visitors you’ve worked hard to attract (hopefully with great content, design and SEO) instead of letting them leave your site for a few Adsense dollars?
If you’re considering using Adsense or banner ads to make money on your website, you’d better really think about whether or not you should. Is making big bucks on ad revenue your goal? If it’s not, I’d seriously reconsider putting them on your site.