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Showing posts from September, 2011

Branding in the Age of Search Engines: Practical Guidelines for Professionals, Startups, Businesses

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You are not what you are; you are not even what you think you are; you are what Google says you are. When people look for you, your company, your products or pretty much anything else the first thing they usually do is to turn to Google. This means that if you are not easy to find you will probably not be found. If you can't be found by a human searching on Google then the internal search functions that websites use to organize information will also not work.  The dominance of search engine algorithms in today's business means that branding has become at the same time more complex, but also more pervasive as people actively manage their personal brand. This means that everyone needs to know some basics about branding, even if they don't plan a career in this specialty. Here, then, are five things you need to know -- a mixture of technology-driven techniques and traditional methods.

1. BRAINSTORM MULTIPLE IDEAS.  Brands can be unsuitable for many reasons. Maybe someone els…

How to Use Twitter for Professional Networking -- Five Tested Techniques

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When I talk about professional networking most people are thinking of traditional business networking sites like LinkedIn, but Twitter can also be surprisingly effective to find and engage with people in your business. Twitter also has the advantage of speed: relationship building that can take months on LinkedIn happens much faster on Twitter simply because of the speed of the medium.  Maybe you tried Twitter already and were disappointed, perhaps seeing just automated advertising bots and people who tweet daily trivia. But there are some very interesting people tweeting some very interesting things; the trick is just to find them. Here, then, are five tried and tested techniques for developing your professional networking on Twitter.

1. FIND RELEVANT PEOPLE BY SEARCHING. Start by twitter searching for keywords related to your business. This will return all the recent tweets on the topic. Scan these tweets and when you see an interesting tweet look at the user's profile and if th…

The New Facebook Effect, the Rosetta Stone and Why it is Important for Communicators

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Once again Facebook has changed the layout of the home page and once again most people are enraged. There are always a minority who are attracted by change but the majority react like the participants in this Digital Trends Survey who gave the latest redesign a clear thumbs down. Yet the people who don't like the new version now prefer the previous version, but just a few months ago the same people were telling pollsters how much they hated it. This phenomenon is well known and is the topic of many cartoons, like this one from Mashable and the classic 2010 State of the Web comic from The Oatmeal.

Why do people hate the changes on the first impression and then grow to like, or at least to accept, them later?  And why is this so important to communication professionals, or indeed anyone who wants to communicate effectively?

The "New Facebook Effect" is simply a stronger manifestation of a well-known aspect of human behavior -- that the majority of people do not like somet…

Why Having an Account on Photo Sharing Sites is Good for Your Image

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Many companies and organizations use an account on photo sharing sites like Flickr or Picasa effectively as part of their overall communication strategy.  For example, the Greater Manchester Police in England uses their Flickr account both to post pictures of people they are looking for and  community building images from their historical archives.

But some companies decide that they do not need a photo sharing account and either do not bother to open one or simply register a blank account to prevent adversaries taking their brand name. Both policies are unwise. To do nothing at all leaves your brand unprotected yet to register an account is free and takes just a few minutes, so there is no excuse for not doing it. Even if you have registered an account you need to use it. Here's why.

First of all, if you do not upload any images to photo sharing accounts then if anyone searches for your brand name on that site they will see any photo made by any person mentioning your brand, and…

Sign Up Now: Joining New Networking Sites Boosts Brand, Reputation

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There's a question and answer thread on Linked In Answers this week where people are discussing the question: Are you on all 340 major social networks?.  Most people focus on the impossibility of following hundreds of social networks and I realized that they are maybe not aware that simply signing up for a new network or service can sometimes be very important for your reputation or brand.

Signing up early means that you get the username you want. How did I get the gmail address "andrewhennigan"? Simple, I was there when gmail started. How did I get the twittername "andrewhennigan"?  Again I was just faster than everyone else. This is useful for consultants like me because it improves my search visibility and makes the results much cleaner. For companies with valuable brands it is even more important. Just this week the new Netflix spinoff "Qwikster" is in the news because the company very carelessly neglected to grab the twitter name @qwikster, whic…

Three Ethical Rules for Social Engagement Bots

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Engagement between companies and their customers on social networking sites is mostly done by human community managers, assisted by some limited automation to boost productivity.  As technology advances these bots will take on more ambitious roles. Soon it will be the norm for mainstream companies to use automated engagement bots to handle first responses and simpler operations, with a human ready to step in when the bot asks for help.

But let's fast forward a few years to when these bots are so good that they can handle most interactions without being detected. At this point should a bot identify itself as a bot up front, and how should it respond if someone asks if it is a bot? This is partly an ethical question; partly a question of how customers react.

I have put this question to many people, face-to-face, on Quora and on LinkedIn and the responses are interesting.  Some people will, it appears, be annoyed at first when they realize that they have been "fooled", but…

How a Prophetic 1946 Short Story Anticipated Today's Web, But Not The Changed Role of Women

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Many science fiction stories have anticipated future developments, but probably the most surprising was Murray Leinster's extraordinary story "A Logic Named Joe". Written long before anyone had seen a computer, or even a TV set, it imagined a future world where every home would be equipped with a computer ("logic" in the story) that is connected to a "tank" (a server) and that all the tanks would be connected together to make a global network. Considering that this comes long before MIT and DARPA started talking about the "Galactic Network" this is already very impressive.

But it is in the services the "logic" provides that Leinster really surprises us, because he talks about things which were still in the realm of science fiction just ten years ago.

"You got a logic in your house", the story begins, "It looks like a vision receiver used to only it's got keys instead of dials... Say you punch 'Station SNAFU&…

Twitter Best Practices: Lessons for Website Owners and Users

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This week the free social media monitoring site socialmention.com suddenly disappeared. I first noticed when I tried to demonstrate it to a class I was teaching at the IAE Aix Graduate School of Management near Aix en Provence, but later I noticed that the problem persisted for several days. This is very unusual. Most glitches last a few hours so for a website to disappear for several days is an interesting event.
Like most users I did the obvious thing and tweeted an "is it just me" message. There was no answer so I searched for news and found many users asking what had happened but there were no replies. Both the @socialmention account and the founder Jon Cianciullo's personal @jonnyjon account were silent. In the end I sent Jon Cianciullo's a mail and he answered very quickly that the site was down while they moved hosting company but that it would be back up that day. And it did come back, he replied to all the tweets and now everyone is happy.
But there are some…