LinkedIn: Unearth the Riches of this Untapped Goldmine

If you’re among those who think that LinkedIn is a poor cousin or a bad imitation of the Facebooks, Twitters and YouTubes of this world, then you’re missing out on an incredibly powerful medium which when used for the right reasons will catapult your business/career to a completely different level.

More than the 75m odd users who are on this medium, it is the quality and influence of those users which is the attraction of LinkedIn. The average user of this platform earns over $100k a year and are some of the most influential decision makers there are.

To be honest, I also was having a LinkedIn profile for quite sometime without knowing what do with it until I had the chance to meet this remarkable person called Rick Itzkowich. Rick truly changed my perception about the tool and now I’m one of its biggest fans.

Thought it’s worth to share some of my thoughts about this potent tool with you folks.

What the heck is it after all?
Actually only a minority of the users do really know what it is and how it is supposed to be used. To put it simply, it is a relationship network which gives you visibility and credibility which ultimately leads to profitability because people need to be aware of you and should trust you before they do business with you. LinkedIn provides the platform to do just that.

Why LinkedIn?
As Rick says, the power of LinkedIn manifests in the solution of a simple problem which is,

You don’t know who all the people that you know, know.

And with LinkedIn, you get to know that. Now isn’t that exciting? For instance, how cool it will be if a person who you want to get in touch with dearly is already connected to a person who is in your contact list? Also what if you could identify unknown areas of activity of a person you already know but never thought about it because the context of that connection is entirely a different one? And so goes the scenarios..

Spam Shy: One of the things which LinkedIn visualized quite early in its inception is that it has to be tightly guarded against potential spammers and abusers. The comfort level that the top level executives and highly influential people have on this platform is ample testimony on how successful the tool is at this. Its vision of placing quality over quantity and preferring class over mass is getting relevant by the day. Ask Facebook and Twitter.

They do this not by posing as a strict disciplinarian up front with a long list of don’t or taboos; the policing is implicit and so you wouldn’t realize the perils of improper conduct until you indulge in it and the damage is done. It expects a certain level of conduct which keeps miscreants at an arm’s distance.

Essentials: Here are some of the basics that you need with the tool.

- Identify your purpose or the objective of using the tool and make sure that it matches with the intrinsic nature of the tool or else you’ll be wasting your time.

- Put up a decent profile by focusing on your areas of strength in strategic places. This is so important since LinkedIn is also widely used as a highly targeted search engine which works on keywords.

- Follow a certain level of etiquette on introductions, referrals and recommendations.

Advanced: Once you’ve gotten familiarized, you need to take it to another level with advanced features such as,

- Groups which is a really effective feature of the tool for building a community of sorts and becoming a credible voice.

- Professional applications like Blogs, Polls and Status updates which have to be used strategically.

- Referral Sources and Referral Partners, that bring you leads and customers over an extended period of time instead of just direct customers.

Now if you want to take online business networking to another level, you would do well to master this incredibly powerful medium. The caveat is that it’s definitely not meant for someone who is in it for the quick buck. You need to have a long term strategy as well as a day to day tactical action plan to make use of the tool.

You can get the roadmap on how to use and leverage the power of this grossly understated medium and thereby convert your relationships into opportunities, business success and profits by getting your hands on LinkedIn Power, a one of its kind work by the LinkedIn guy himself, Rick Itzkowich. The value of this work is in not just the fact that it makes getting accustomed to the tool a heck of a lot easy since as you know the tool doesn’t have the best of interfaces and its complexity can be a bit daunting for a new user. It also takes the training of the tool to a level of mastery that only a small minority can claim of. I would wholly endorse this piece of work.

Happy connecting.

Cheers
TM

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Does Joy Outweigh Hassles In Your Marketing Efforts?

They are the twin emotions every marketer is confronted with and which among the two is the more dominant force ultimately decides the way your efforts are headed. Is the joy strong enough to carry through the pain and difficulties or are the countless hassles just too much to handle?

Read an interesting take on how these two forces grow in time and what is the factor that influence the paths they end up taking. Call it the Joy-Hassle graph.

Cheers
TM

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WordPress Static Homepage in 3 Simple Steps

Taking a detour of sorts with this post to have a look at a couple of tricky issues that I encountered on my websites last week. Posting solutions to these as I think it’s worth sharing. Although a bit technical, they’re straight forward.

1. Static Homepage on WordPress Based Site: This is if you want to have a homepage that is not frequently changing like your blog page as you know by default, WordPress shows your blog posts on the front page of your site. Why would you want to have a static page as your homepage given that it’s not Search Engine friendly? The answer is this could be a site where blogging is not the primary activity and the intention is to rank on a set of constant keywords and give it a flashy and attractive look.

It’s really simple and it doesn’t require editing or coding.


Step1: Create 2 pages, one titled “Home” and the other one “Blog”. Put the static content that you want to have on the “Home” page, leave the “Blog” page blank and publish both the pages.

Step2: Update the following on the Administration > Settings > Reading panel.
a. On Front page displays, check the “Static Page” radio button
b. Choose “Home” page for Front page and “Blog” page for Posts page drop downs

Step3: Finally, enable permalinks to show the page title or else it won’t serve the purpose.

2. Theme getting dark on loading: Some of my blogging friends pointed out that my page was completely dark until it was fully loaded. I didn’t realise this probably because the page was loading pretty quick on my machine. I know fully well that the average attention span of a visitor is 6-8 seconds and if your page didn’t load in that time, chances are that you’re going to lose that visitor who probably might not come back again because I couldn’t show him what I am all about.

Now, I didn’t want to change my theme since firstly I like the look of it, but more importantly I’d risk losing my search engine indexing if I did that. The solution was a simple three line code that my theme author gave me which I inserted in the stylesheet.css file which set my content background to white.


Pic: Before Update

Pic: After Update

The above pictures show the difference the code made. After the update was made, the visitor can see the content clearly while the page loads fully. Just goes to show how having an honest audience can help you in identifying things which you aren’t aware of yourself. Cheers guys.

TM

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Marketing Lessons From The World Cup

The month long spectacle of the quadrennial Football word cup culminated in South Africa after much fanfare and gaiety last week. The tournament as a whole was a great success thanks to the hosts who took to the event in such a huge manner that the festive atmosphere that prevailed truly reflected the rainbow nation in its true colors. Though there was much to crow about the successful event, the first in the African continent, a lot of things could’ve been done better. Let’s look at the some of the lessons that we can learn from this event from a marketing angle.

Ignore Technology at your own peril: I know that my English friends would still be sulking about Lampard’s disallowed goal. Whether that decision would’ve made a significant impact on the outcome of the match is indeed debatable. I have my doubts as I feel that Germany was a much better side on the day and they thoroughly deserved the win.

Disallowed Goal
  But what is beyond debate is the fact that the simple use of technology   could’ve avoided the issue altogether and everyone would have been happy   with the final result had it been the case. And the winner would’ve been   pleased that their win did not get sullied in the controversy.

  Marketing Takeaway - Don’t get overawed by technology as it’s a great enabler.

Don’t alter crucial factors close to the event: The tricks that the ball (Jabulani) played in adversely affecting the games as a spectacle as well for players could’ve been avoided had they not left the choice of balls to be used till the very last moment.

Marketing takeaway - Trust the tried and tested tools when the stakes are high.

Don’t go overboard with the scarcity card: Well before the first whistle blew or the sound of Vuvuzela was heard, FIFA had announced that the most of the tickets had been sold. But in hindsight, the claim that 97% of tickets were sold before the tournament began seemed hardly credible as made conspicuous by swathes of empty seats at the stadia. Did they put off the potential buyers by playing the scarcity card excessively? Well, the evidences seem to suggest so.

Marketing takeaway - Be moderate and credible with claims as it may put off prospective customers otherwise.

Know your market: One of the basics of marketing is to know your target audience and the organizers made a basic error in judgement in this aspect. There was a huge drop in the ticket sales over the internet, since majority of the football fans in Africa don’t have access to internet and the payment options online. Africa isn’t Europe and what worked in the previous world cup obviously didn’t work this time as the market has changed.

Marketing takeaway - Choose to go online or offline based on the audience

Greed isn’t a virtue: The exorbitant pricing of the packages – travel, accommodation and ticketing aimed to squeeze out the maximum from the ardent faithfuls was met with strong negative response from all around. And instead of making it an affordable proposition for the multitude of fans, the sheer greed on the part of the stage managers fended them off big time.

I’m sure that the cricket fans would nod their heads in agreement on how the West Indies bungled on the same in the world cup that they hosted in 2007 but did well to quickly learn from that mistake in time for World T20 two years later. Hope that Brazil can take a leaf out of their books in time for 2014.

Marketing takeaway - When you’re working with a massive market, the prices ought to be competitive


World Cup Party

But for all the marketing slip ups and hiccups, what cannot be missed was the joi de vivre that was on display in ample measure. It is best exemplified by the color (in every sense), bliss and elation in the theme video. Let’s capture that spirit of joy and happiness in our marketing efforts as well.

Waka Waka folks..!!

Cheers
Tanzz

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Why Firefox Is A Must-Have Internet Marketing Tool

A simple question. What is the single most important tool in the armory of an internet marketer? The answer is even simpler – The browser that he uses. Being the first point of contact to the online world, the browser plays a role that is far bigger than it is given credit for.

The riposte could be aren’t all the browsers that are worth mentioning, advanced and sophisticated enough to be called a handy online marketing tool? Well, they are. Then what are the discerning factors for choosing a browser?

Of course I’m not referring to the skills on display on this video from a Firefox faithful.

All things being equal, it boils down to two namely,

- Its efficiency as a cross-platform tool and

- The plugins that are available

The above two factors swing the balance in favor of Firefox when compared to its competitors as an internet marketing tool. Apart from the above there are distinct advantages like tighter security and consistent terminology for better business and user experience.

A good cross-platform browser will work across multiple platforms and are not restricted by the operating systems or other software. So Firefox will work fine on Mac OS and Linux as well as Windows.

And plugins provide added features which make life easy online. Let’s quickly look at some of the cool plugins that are really useful for the netpreneurs among us.

SEO for Firefox – Must have for people who spent a lot of time analyzing search engine results. It gives you a whole bunch of information on Google results.

Search status – Keeps you updated with the status of your site in terms of traffic (Alexa score), Page Rank, Link structure etc.

* This is one of the things to which my mouse constantly moves to. If you’re like me looking for positive reaffirmation frequently, then this provides you that by showing how every blog post takes your Alexa ratings up by a few thousands.

Dejaclick – Allows you to create “macros” that will save you a lot of time from doing the repetitive tasks.

Foxpose – Useful for people who like to have plenty of windows open. Instead of searching for the right window using alt+tab, this displays all the open windows on a single screen making it easy to switch between screens.

So it’s clear why Firefox is the preferred browser for internet marketers. More than a browser, it is more of a productivity tool. So if you don’t have it yet, go get it.

Cheers
TM

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Get Rid Of Numbers With Google Voice

I listened to this audio on one of the blogs that I follow meticulously, about Google Voice and got me really interested. There’s a lot of stuff that Google is offering for free with this product. Here are some of the really cool features.

The numero uno feature of this product is to delink your phone identity from the umpteen numbers that you may have and tie it to you which makes life a lot easier. Especially for those who are frequently on the move.

Voicemail Transcription – Apart from being attractive to those who are in love with words, which I confess I am, a really helpful feature is the search option on the transcripts for later reference which you can’t do with audio.

You do want different messages and voice tones for those messages for different people or groups of people. Like to whom to posture up and to whom to be casual for example. Personalized Greetings lets you do that.

And finally something that I don’t mind is the International Calls at very low rates. But my Telecom provider surely does.

You can get the full feature list here.

Have a nice day.

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Top 7 WordPress Plugins For Social Media

As widely accepted, the twin prerequisites of your blog setup is that,

- It should be on a self hosted account &
- The blogging platform should be WordPress.

So after you have setup the WordPress blog on your site, you need to maximize its capabilities by having the desired additional features. As you know, the advantage of the WordPress blogging platform is that it is designed as a content management system with the ability to run widgets and plugins. And unless you’re doing this, you’ll not be leveraging the potential of the platform.

Now there are hundreds and hundreds of WordPress plugins that are available for all kinds of purposes like SEO, performance optimization, appearance and so on. But I would like to focus on those plugins which enable Web 2.0 which in simple terms means anything that facilitates user interaction. And what better way of social marketing there is than eliciting user interaction?

Ok, let’s jump straight into the top 7 WordPress plugins for social media and Web 2.0.

1. What Would Seth Godin Do?
Weird name for a plugin, but an effective one alright. What it does is it creates a message to your first-second-third-time visitors to remind them to subscribe to your feed. And once you’ve set it up for 3 visits, it stops after that and so the visitor isn’t bugged all the time. People won’t mind this provided you’re giving quality content time and again.

2. Popularity Contest:
This is a cool plugin that tracks the popularity of your posts and gives really good details on what your visitors do on your site. It can be used as a tracking tool for understanding the mood and behaviour of your visitors so that you can optimize it accordingly.

3. WP Greet Box: It’s a simple plugin that displays a greeting to the visitors of your site based on where they’re coming from. For example if the user is coming through a link on Facebook, it greets him/her as a Facebook user and gives them the option to connect with you if you are not connected already.

4a. Disqus Comment System: It’s a smart commenting system which replaces the default commenting system on WordPress. The power of this tool is that it allows users to login with their social media accounts and then when they make a comment, it is shared with their contacts on those media which gives your post endorsement which can spread virally.

4b. Thank me later: Another plugin related to comments. Can’t be used along side Disqus as the two are incompatible. What it does is whenever somebody posts a comment on your site, it sends out a message to the person thanking him and the cool thing about this is that it can be configured in a way that it waits for a day or two before sending the mail so that it looks natural and it is completely customisable. Sort of an ingenious autoresponder.

5. Auto Social Poster: This is not free and so is meant for really serious bloggers. It automates the posting on social bookmarking sites as and when a new blog entry is published. Not only that you can create multiple accounts and randomise on which account to post from to make it look real and original.

6. Follow me: It is a simple plugin which makes having all the countless social media profiles on your site unnecessary. It shows a small tab when clicked lists all your social media profiles for the user to follow if he/she wishes so. It keeps the site clean and uncluttered.

7. Share Buttons: These are quick and easy plugins which provide buttons to share your blog content to the various social media. The ones that I use are Tweetme and Facebook share. Very easy and point in click once activated. There are tools by which you can integrate and automate your social media updates. but they are meant for advanced users only.

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Blogging 101

We have seen what a blog is and why is it necessary that you have one. Let’s dig a bit deeper into these and also look at some of the pre-requisites in setting up a successful blog.

Why do you think the online industry experts under any niche throw their weights behind blogs and invariably suggest that you have one? The reasons are simple.

- Blogs are built and designed to rank better
- It has got unique built in features as a platform &
- People love blogs and more importantly Google loves blogs (This should be the clincher, right?)

A pertinent question would be how come blogs are so search engine friendly? To give you one specific reason, it is due to the feature called “Ping” by which the search engines are alerted about new content on your blog which in turn sets the search engines’ spiders in crawling motion to your site.

That covered, let’s get on to the platform.

It has to be a self hosted blog and not one hosted on sites like blogger.com or wordpress.com for a variety of reasons, the topmost among them being,

- You need to have full control over your blog and your content shouldn’t be at the mercy of the host. Tomorrow if they decide to close your account for whatever reason, all your work will go down the drain just like that.

- The blog platform has to be on a content management system with the ability to run widgets, plugins and do SEO work. Unless you have this, you wouldn’t be able to leverage the Web 2.0 features that today’s customers are familiar with and naturally expect on your blog as well.

And without doubt, the platform that gives you all of the above and more is a WordPress based blog on your self hosted account (not to be confused with a blog on WordPress.com). If you need to put in effort to move it from any other platform, it’s worth it, hands down. Go for it.

On a passing note, don’t be a perfectionist. Just get it rolling with some content. You have all the time in the world to make it look better. To start off, the sole purpose should be to drive some traffic to your blog and you can’t have that unless you put it out. So folks, go out there and take action. Bring it on!!

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Inside Scoop From The Google Insider

The exciting part of being connected to the internet marketing network is the opportunity to meet and share experiences with the industry superstars. Over the last weekend, I had the pleasure to meet Simon Leung – an internet marketing whiz-kid and an ex-Google employee who built a million dollar empire within the first year of his business.


  Known in the internet marketing circles as the Google Insider, he is one of   ’The’ Google Adwords gurus going around and is today a widely sought after   consultant, author, speaker, coach and a mentor. Following are excerpts from   my interaction with Simon.

  One of the gems that I picked from him was this – Google is Google’s   biggest fan. And it would help your cause if you can give them a bit of   ego-massaging. Would you mind doing so if the reward is a higher ranking   on the greatest marketing machine on planet earth? I guess not.

So how to do it? Simple. Make sure that Google is amply covered on your website.

- Have blogs on blogger.com. If you have a self-hosted blog, have links to your blogger account
- Link pictures on your site to Picasa
- Put videos from YouTube
- Show Buzz widgets/icons
- Get iGoogle and Knol represented on your site

In short keep your content Google-rich and have plenty of backlinks to your site from those sources.

Search engines and especially Google likes navigational links which adds to the user experience. Follow a consistent structure with templates which has a good number of navigational links which is intuitive and easy enough for the visitors. And those links should be linking to pages within your site and outside. Also, if you’re having outbound links, make it point to do that within specific posts and articles instead of having them on the template and getting repeated on all pages as this lower your ranking on Google.

Google loves content and they love constantly changing content. You should keep the Google spider busy that it finds something new on each of its hop to your site. The caveat is that the content needs to pass the originality test. Google’s algorithms for checking plagiarism and duplicate content are so powerful and ever evolving that there is no fixed formula to get around it. So instead of trying to beat Google at their game, the better and easier option is to have fresh and original content.

Personalize your brand – This is something which struck an immediate cord with me since I’ve been someone who always believed that the most prospective strategy in your internet marketing career is to build your own brand because people buy into people more than anything else. Some of the quick and easy ways of implementing this are,

- Promote your site before anything else.
Eg: You.com/Facebook & You.com/Twitter instead of Facebook.com/You & Twitter.com/You
- Association with industry leaders and experts which helps to build your credibility

Lastly Simon acknowledged that the apprehension of Adwords being an expensive medium is due to the fact that the vast majority of the Ad campaigns are not maximized for results on Adwords. This stems from a lot of misconceptions and misplaced notions that people have about the tool. The Adwords guru’s suggestions were easy – Keep it simple, laser target the audience, keep the promise on your Ad and constantly monitor and optimize.

The interaction was very casual and he seemed a very chilled out guy. And interestingly, he said that one of the reasons of him quitting Google was their shift from a relaxed, laid-back environment to a formal, uptight setup of a corporate giant and that’s not the in-thing with internet marketers. I couldn’t agree with him more.

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Getting Started with Blogging

First things first. What are these blogs all about? See this quick intro.

Hope that gave some perspective to start with.

But there are millions and millions of blogs out there for every niche that you can possibly think of. So is it worth joining the bandwagon and add another one and more importantly how will you ensure that your voice is heard and won’t be drowned in such a crowded and noisy place?

Let’s go through some of the basics assoicated with putting up your blog.

Why on earth do I require a blog?
First and foremost, it helps if you have a presence online. People need to be aware that you exist and unless you’re a Kobe Bryant or a Brad Pitt in your field, you will need to make your target audience aware of you. Further, your blog speaks of your personality and says what you’re all about which creates that personal branding. And when people likes or appreciates your thoughts and views, you create a space of influence for you in the niche you’re in. I think those are enough reasons to have a blog.

What next? Choosing your audience.

Pick your niche
The checkpoints here are,

Do you have genuine interest and valuable information about the niche?

Is there an actual online demand for the same?

I have a passion for internet network marketing and there is a huge market for this industry – which qualifies my blog I guess ;)

Once you’ve chosen the niche, stay true to it by focusing on topics which are directly concerning the niche or closely related to it. A targeted niche or a sub niche would have a more dedicated but lesser audience than a broad one but will have the advantage of lesser competition.

Format and Readability
Though the unique content that you have to offer should be the USP of your blog, it should be embellished by the way it is formatted and structured so that readers have a pleasant experience the time they spend on your blog. A few things to note are,

Theme - This should be consistent with your topic and personality. Quite obviously, a funky looking theme with weird color combinations wouldn’t be ideal for a business blog.

Structure - The content should have a proper intro, body and a conclusion which make for pleasant reading; this doesn’t mean that you cannot go a bit offbeat with your structure once in a while though.

Categories - Organising your blog posts into relevant categories makes it easy for the audience to find the information that they need.

Manage Your Expectation
So if you’ve decided on having a blog, it is important that you set your expectations right. What is that you’re looking for? Is it for money or for a career change or for freedom? Trust me, it is NOT a get rich quick scheme and if anybody says so he or she is just selling dreams. The truth is that a blog can give all of the above provided you’re commited to work hard and be patient and persistent. It is a really rewarding one if done for the right reasons.

Happy blogging!!

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