FreakyFriday: Weird of the Day – The Good, The Bad, and The Dangerous of Living a Public Life

By: iCopywriter Blogger, Kimberly Crossland

In less than a decade our worlds have changed dramatically. Now, old flames are being reunited and marriages are being dissolved over the use of Facebook – a service that was in its youth only 8 years ago. The way people interact with each other has shifted to socializing online instead of in person. People are kept up to date on what is happening in a distant friend’s life on social networks instead of on the phone. And while this is a great way to keep people close, it can also expose your world to people you may not have intended.

The following are a few examples of just how public our lives have become with the increased use of social media to interact.

  • Location-based services – With services such as Foursquare that encourage check-ins at local restaurants, shops, or businesses, people are broadcasting where they are for the world to see. While it may be fun to strive to be a mayor on Foursquare, opening up your location to be seen by your friends can be a risk. Imagine letting everyone know that you were at a local bar, only to have your ex-boyfriend show up for an impromptu greeting. There are fun sides to these apps, undoubtedly, but it is important to be aware of who will be seeing your location when you shout it from the social media rooftops.
  • Status updates – Even if you are not using a location-based service, status updates can also provide a wealth of information that divulges sensitive information (think: exposing your new-job search to your current boss), or brings to light that you are on vacation, opening up the possibility of thieves seeing your status and breaking into your home when you are gone. While these are extreme circumstances, they are meant to show that it is important to be mindful of what you are posting and how public your posts actually are.
  • Websites that watch – Today is the last day in a privacy policy poll that Facebook put out to its users on giving a little more leeway on the information they can share about their users. But it’s not only Facebook that is delivering tidbits of information to their users. Google and other websites gather information on where you visit, and what you search for. Your privacy is eliminated as soon as you type in a search query. Don’t believe us? Look at the ads that are being displayed in your direction. They, without a doubt, have something to do with a website you have searched before, or the subject of an e-mail you received.

Exposure is not always a bad thing. However, it is important to be aware of just how public your data is each and every time you hit your keyboard or send an update from your smartphone.

You tell us – Do you worry about your life being overly exposed online? And if so, what privacy measures do you put in place to help stop it?

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Photo credit: Stan020

Top 5 Common Mistakes Made in Company Blogs

By: iCopywriter Blogger, Kimberly Crossland

In the age of social networking and digital marketing, there are few companies who fail to realize the importance of having a blog. Not only is it an excellent forum to engage with customers, it also allows businesses to place keywords on their site in a meaningful format that, when done properly, will be shared on social networks across the Internet providing free exposure to new potential customers.

Yet many businesses are incredibly overwhelmed and do not know where to begin, so they simply throw together what they think a blog should look like without the thought and consideration it takes to build an effective and successful approach. If this sounds like your company, consider if you are making one of these 5 common mistakes.

  1. Too Much Self-Promotion – In spite of the fact that a blog is placed on your website (and be sure the blog URL is connected to your site for ranking purposes), the main intention of every post should not be to sell. Instead, this is your area to shine and give your business a voice. Talk about controversial topics in your industry, or bring up new ways to use your product or service that your customer may not have thought of in the past. Avoid self-promotion and instead provide useful content that delivers value to your reader.
  2. Inconsistent Posts – Do not start a blog without a plan. Design a schedule of how many posts you will put up each week, and stick to it. Inconsistent blogs send a message that you do not care about updating your readers or your website, making trust in your brand weaken.
  3. Long Posts – Have you ever read an article and thought it was running on for far too long? Use lists and bullet points to get your thoughts across in a format that is easy to skim for the short attention spanned web-reader.
  4. No Delegated Content – Putting the job of writing and managing a blog solely on the marketer in your company is not wise. Not only will this add a significant work load to your marketing department’s already very full plate, but it will also cause the blog to falter because it will not receive the focus it deserves. Outsource blog writing to professionals who can create compelling content and deliver it in a timely manner.
  5. Same Story, New Post – Almost as bad as drawn out posts is post after post that have nothing new to share. Keep your content fresh and avoid being dull by using an outside service to help generate ideas and create the content for you.

Your company blog can be a great asset, but if it is not done right, it can also cause your business to lose loyal website visitors and an inexpensive form of marketing to potential prospects.

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

Google + = Mor Opps for Biz

By: iCopywriter Blogger, Kimberly Crossland

Google+ is one of the newest social networks to explode in today’s online world. Opened up less than a year ago to businesses, many companies are still wondering how they can use it to their advantage. And while they know there are benefits, they simply have not invested the time into creating a quality profile that will target a unique market for non-Facebook users, potentially generating more business and leads. This is a mistake.

Here are four quick ways your business can get started on Google+ today.

 

  1. Share your content – This may seem obvious, but not enough companies are harnessing the power of sharing their content on networks like Google+. When you post an intriguing piece of information to your website or on your blog, the next step is to find ways to generate traffic so people can dig in to the nuggets of information you just provided. Post links, ask questions and create a stir around the latest topics on your website.
  2. Create contests around your content – Once you’ve begun to create that stir, use it to engage on an even deeper level and give back to your customer base. Create a contest that follows up on a trend or hot topic. For example, a home decor business may post about the latest color trend. Then, they can create a contest to find the most creative use of one of their products using that color. Get creative and keep your customers involved.
  3. Spark a conversation – Go live on air with the newest feature of Google+ appropriately titled, Hangouts. You can now connect more personally with your customers by speaking directly to them. Use this to follow up on a controversial blog post, or to dive in deeper to a blog post that your customers find particularly interesting or frequently ask about.
  4. Get to know your customers – When you post intriguing content, customers are typically compelled to comment and share their opinions too. After all, the Internet is the perfect sounding ground for customers to have an opportunity to say their piece and interact with the brands they love. Use these comments as a way to get inside your customers’ heads and understand what sparks their interest. Then, you can create more using that research and continue driving quality traffic to your site.

Make your content work harder for you. Post, engage and follow up with your customers in this uniquely designed social network to gain more business results and create a more loyal customer base. Are you using Google+ for your business?

Have you checked out iCopywriter lately?

FreakyFriday: Weird of the Day – Girl-Finding App Removed From iTunes Store, Still Reveals Extremely Creepy Things About the Internet

By: iCopywriter Senior Editor, Heather Price-Wright

Ever wondered what the downside might be to geo-location social networking platforms like Foursquare and Facebook’s check-in feature?

The recent firestorm over a now-defunct app points to just exactly why you might want to double-check your privacy settings with such services, or stop using them at all.

The app, called “Girls Around Me,” was voluntarily pulled from the Apple iTunes store on Monday, but not before what seemed like the entirety of the tech and social media worlds weighed in on whether or not it was the creepiest thing ever to hit the social networking scene.

Basically, Girls Around Me used public Foursquare and Facebook profiles to find “girls” near the user, and even created a map of the surrounding area pinpointing where people had checked in. Last week, Foursquare disallowed access to its location data from developer SMS Services O.o.o., rendering the app basically useless; SMS Services later got rid of the app altogether, claiming the company would re-launch a different version at a later date.

Much has been made of the creepiness of the app, which, according to its iTunes store description, was a “radar-style” to “SEE WHERE NEARBY GIRLS ARE CHECKING IN” (sic). And sure, it’s gross, not least for its referral to presumably grown women as “girls.”

But regardless of the app’s rise and fall, the real lesson here seems to be in protecting one’s own online privacy. After all, Girls Around Me wouldn’t have been possible if people (men and women alike) weren’t voluntarily providing public information about their whereabouts for anyone to find and, yes, creep on.

And whether or not this particularly icky application still exists, it should probably be a lesson to all of us: Especially when it comes to location-based social networking, those privacy settings should be on lockdown. Because it’s not just skeezy app developers who might want to know where you are; anyone from thieves looking for empty homes to crazy exes to that weird peripheral friend you don’t ever want to hang out with one-on-one can easily find you via such services.

Our advice?

  • Don’t make your Foursquare account public; set it so only friends can see your check-ins
  • Ditto Facebook; only friends should be able to see check-ins and, just to be on the safe side, all your other information, especially things like addresses and phone numbers should be restricted as well
  • Configure Facebook settings so that you have to approve the post anytime someone else tags you somewhere; that way, friends of friends can’t see where you are unless you let them
  • Be careful, and be smart, with your location on social media. Posts like, “Out of the country for 2 weeks!!!!!!,” when public, may as well scream, “No one is home so please rob me!!!!!!!”

How do you keep yourself secure and creep-free on social media? Do you use location-based services, or find that they provide a little TMI? Let us know in the comments!

Have you checked out iCopywriter.com lately?

3 Ways Pinterest Can Work for Your Small Business

By: iCopywriter

March 20, 2012

Last month, we wrote a blog post introducing (or re-introducing) you to the social media universe’s new darling, Pinterest. Since that initial post, Pinterest has continued to skyrocket, gaining new users and new buzz by the day.

According to a USA Today Money article, Pinterest was third in popularity among social networking sites in the United States, after only Facebook and Twitter, as of last week. That’s an incredible feat, considering that just a couple dozen people founded Pinterest in 2011.

Pinterest is good for more than sharing personal style, recipe, home décor and other visual ideas and inspiration, however. As USA Today notes, the site can also do wonders for your business’ visibility and interactions with potential customers. Here’s how:

  1. Sharing Your Own Material. Carl Christensen, a photographer, told USA Today that, while he was reluctant to use social media to share his artful creations, Pinterest has been the perfect venue for him to connect with potential clients the best way he knows how: through images. By “pinning” his own work on his Pinterest boards, Christensen says he has increased online sales of his work to account for half of his total business.
    Try It Yourself:
    Whether you create art, sell consumer products or offer a helpful service, try pinning your company’s own work on Pinterest. For example, if you design beautiful custom business cards, pin a few samples. Potential customers will take note, re-pin your work and keep your business in mind.
  2. Re-Pin Other Users’ Posts. According to Pinterest, the best way to build up a following on the site is to re-pin images from other Pinterest users’ boards. This creates buzz and draws those users, plus their followers, to your site. The more you draw interested eyes to your business’ Pinterest boards, the more would-be customers you can introduce to your own products or services.
    Try It Yourself:
    Do you own a small market, restaurant, bakery or other food-related business? Consider re-pinning creative recipes you see on other users’ pages. You could even include comments about how to use your products to recreate those recipes, or add beautiful photos of your own edible offerings to the mix.
  3. Link Pinterest to Your Other Social Networking Efforts. According to USA Today, many companies are drawing their Facebook friends and fans to their Pinterest page, thereby making connections with consumers on many platforms at once. For example, Bergdorf Goodman let its Facebook fans finish this sentence: “In the morning I never forget _________.” The retailer then revealed the responses on one pinboard, letting followers see how their answers translated to visual representation.
    Try It Yourself:
    Ask your Facebook followers what they think of (one word, image or phrase) when they think of your company. Then, let them know to check Pinterest to see if their response made it onto the company pinboard, and to check out the other responses, too. This will generate interest on both social networking platforms and help customers feel engaged with your business.

There are plenty of ways businesses can use the magical place that is Pinterest to further their social networking goals; these are just a few. With the creative space provided by a site like Pinterest, the uses are only limited by your imagination.

Have you checked out iCopywriter.com lately?