Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Networking Strategy for Small Business



I have a friend who is a house painter and we were discussing how as a small business owner he can use networking to get more exposure. Amazingly, he was not aware that he could profit by using a social network site to promote his business prospects. For this purpose, I suggested that he start actively networking online. Generaly, people who have small businesses usually get business by word of mouth and this is a way to do this online. The sites that I suggested were Face book, MySpace or Twitter.

In addition, I told him to join a few local social networks sites in his area to promote his business to people who might be willing to hire him. He can also create his own network by using Ning. The types of businesses that he should target are not for profit, other business owners or other people who work for a large organization in his area that might want to hire him. He could also start a group for other professionals in the house renovation or building business, such as landscaping, plumbing and electricians to share ideas and get referrals. Once he starts networking online, his contacts will grow, but he must spend the time online to reach the people who may send business his way. He can also post some pictures of the painting jobs that he has done to show people how good the quality of his work is. Since most of these network sites are free, he has nothing to lose, and he will be able to build strong relationships with many of these people.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Are social networks cutting in on paid dating services, especially for seniors?



I found this interesting article on dating services for adults on Internetnews.com
http://www.internetnews.com/ec-news/article.php/3659911
There has been a lot of talk about social networks becoming better alternatives to traditional dating sites because, just like in the physical world, people meet as a side effect of engaging in other shared activities or interest, like going out to dinner, going to family events, exercising or working. Many social network sites address this issue by offering shared social activities that create a comfortable environment where people get to know each other without the heavy social pressure.
There are so many free online dating services just for senior, but my concern is if many seniors will use this type of service, and are the free services as effective as a paid service, such as eHarmony and Match.com, with finding the right match for this age group and making a profit. Another concern is if the paid service has the ability to continue attract people who want to pay for a service that they can get for free. Many seniors are lonely, but they are also on a limited budget, and if they can get something free and find companionship, then this is their best solution to a happier more active lifestyle. Most importantly, they need to be concerned about their privacy; therefore, I suggest they do some research and sign up with reputable social meeting services.

I found an online dating review service that directed me to some dating services for seniors:
http://www.the-online-dating-reviews.com/senior-online-dating.html
The two that I found in this review that may be a good free service are:

1. Seniorpeoplemeet.com
http://www.seniorpeoplemeet.com/online-dating/promo.cfm?sid=124&afid=GGNC5001&st=senior%20citizen%20dating&ds=www.the-online-dating-reviews.com&stype=Content&cid=3423792249&agn=Senior_Dating-105&gclid=CIu32MDnkZ4CFZho5QodSUcvqg

2. Dating for Seniors.com
http://www.datingforseniors.com/?s=free_db_search&aff_id=google&aff_pg=2&aff_cp=GOO

3. Yahoo personals also offers a way to get connected.
http://personals.yahoo.com/;_ylc=X3oDMTEzaHFvMHR1BF9TAzIwMjIyNDg1NzkEc2VjA05TSUhQBHNsawNCb29tZXJz?b=5&h=5&a=C

Just a side note, it doesn’t matter what age you are, it is hard to find the right kind of companion and it takes a lot of time and energy finding the right service that will meet your needs. You also don’t want to be harassed by the service if you want to stop using it so be careful what you are asking for.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Social media influence on purchasing.



Are better decisions made on or off line?
http://waves.wavgroup.com/social-media-influence-on-purchasing
I wanted to share this article on social medical influence on purchasing and how it affects the way people look for products they want to purchase on or off line.
This study by Parenting Magazines shows that lots of moms are engaged in social networking, but making many of their product decisions based upon offline relationships.

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) – Technology’s influence is widely assumed to have morphed the over-the-fence backyard chat into mommy blogs and Twitter networks, but when moms are seeking product advice, it’s not all social-media all the time.
The Parenting Group’s study found that while moms are avid web and social-media users, they still turn to family and friends first, whether by phone, e-mail or in-person, when making decisions about product purchases. And marketers targeting moms would be wise not to give up on that backyard fence just yet: Moms are four times more likely to go to their personal offline network than online social networks for product recommendations and buying advice.

The survey, conducted via Parenting’s MomConnection online research panel, found 23% of moms use Twitter, but only 3% are using it for product information. A whopping 81% of moms use Facebook, but again only 24% use it for product information.
“Regardless of which social network they use, only a small minority said they use those social networks for product information,” said Nancy Hallberg, chief strategy officer of the Parenting Group. “[But] the interesting thing is that moms are very open to having conversations online with marketers, they just want to have them on their own terms.”

The study found that more than 80% of moms visit a brand’s website for information and 65% have signed up for newsletters from brands. That is, they are usually seeking information from brands directly, rather than looking for a social interaction with brands on a third-party social site.

First and foremost, social.
“It’s not that you’ve got to be in their social conversations. Social networks are first and foremost social,” Ms. Hallberg said. “If they’re on a social network, looking at pictures, being entertained or looking at friends’ videos, they’re saying [to us] ‘I’m not in the mood to have a conversation about a product. But when I am in the mood, I’ll go directly to that marketer.’”
The Parenting Group study jibes with other market researchers’ findings. BabyCenter’s recent 21st Century Mom Report found that 10% or fewer of Facebook, MySpace and Twitter moms use those sites for product recommendations, while the majority (from 60% to 90%, depending on the site) use them for socializing and entertainment.

A September online Prospectiv study found that only 1% of moms surveyed thought blogs were the most effective way to promote a brand, while almost half (47%) cited product samples offered online, and another 40% said coupons were better ways to plug a product.

Online vs. offline.
Researchers agreed it’s not an online vs. offline battle, but rather more about the effectiveness of personal connections in either place.
“The power of word of mouth is more defined by the affinity for and trust of the information source rather than online versus offline means of interaction,” Laura Fortner, senior VP, marketing and insights at CafeMom, said in an e-mail interview. “You can have an offline recommendation made by a stranger in a grocery aisle that may not be as powerful or impactful as online recommendations made by someone in your social network with whom you share common interests, values and experiences.”

Brad Fay, chief operating officer and co-founder of word of mouth research firm Keller Fay Group, agreed that it’s not an either/or proposition.
“We’ve found that more than 90% of word of mouth about brands among moms and others happens offline. But a lot of the time, they’re talking about something they’ve learned online. … In the last several years social media has become important. But we have to be careful when we start employing new tools (as marketers) that we don’t use them in isolation. Don’t stop doing what works in other places.”
Indeed, it may be that the power is in the mix of both. Facebook is a very popular destination for moms and they give their opinion on everything, including products. Twitter is a gold mine for exchanging product information targeted to moms. Moms are incredibly active in tweeting and retweeting about product giveaways, contests and coupons. Twitter parties – a hybrid of online and offline – are also increasingly popular [and] provide helpful information while also highlighting products and brands. Moms want the feedback of other moms, whether online or in the real world. They haven’t stopped listening to real-world friends just because they are also having online conversations. What’s interesting is that those online friends are also becoming friends in real life.

Some ways to enhance positive marketing experiences.

Sponsored Conversation:
For brands to reach online influences they should engage in sponsored conversations, which is a marketing technique to provide financial or material compensation to bloggers in exchanging for their posting blog content about a brand. This gives the blogger a way to interact with others and help promote something that they really like or used and communicate their feelings and experience with the brands they are writing about. I feel this is a good way to engage people to help market something to their friends or followers. What other way can marketers expect to get this type of traffic and exposure by themselves.

OpenID:
The OpenID Foundation is focused on creating a single identity system that can be used across may Websites enabling users to register once across all Websites. The identity system allows consumers to benefit from contextual information from Websites that allow the identity to be shared.

Facebook Engagment ads: Read WSJ article online.
This feature in Facebook requires a social approach allowing social ads interaction with ads triggering actions on their activity that encourages other users to participate. The new ads appear on the main screen when someone logs on to their Facebook account. Then, they are prompted to do something within the ad, such as comment on a movie trailer. I wonder if this is going to be valuable to the companies who are trying to promote products or services.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Can the use of social media reach young consumers?




It seems that an overwhelming majority of people consume social media content, and most young consumers are also becoming spectators who read forums, listen and watch videos on YouTube and create their own blogs and post comments. This increase in this type of activity proves that people are spending more time on social media areas to look for specific things they are interested in.

While many of the young generation demonstrate multiple forms of social participation in brands, marketers do not seem that interested in using social media to reach this generation to promote brands.

However, while many of these users may be attracting marketing prospects, interactive marketers still find it hard to create appealing messages because many of them don’t really know the people these people are connecting to because they are not really close friends. This makes it hard to find any value of these types of informal contacts for the word of mouth campaign that marketers rely on to spread their brands or services over the Web. Just think how much would person trust information sent to them from a friend of a friend that they do not know at all.
Another problem is that people are not truthful in their profile information, which makes it hard to use this for targeting users for a specific brand based on age, gender or location. So why do marketers think that just putting up a brand on Facebook or MySpace will attract younger fans. I do not really know, but for one thing, marketers need to look at how and why people interact and connect with others who are also on line. Marketers must be ready for more changes that are going to take place over the next few years. Traditional marketing is becoming less effective; therefore, marketers should do more listening to their consumers instead of just trying to talk to them.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Can virtual dating affect relationships?




A new game cartridge for Nintendo DS has a new dating sim called Love Plus, and I wanted to know what all the hype was about. I found that with this new gaming technology, many people are getting hooked and they are spending more time on this then on real life. This dating sim can make you think that you really have a relationships with the character and can take you out of reality and into a virtual world. It is hard enough to deal with normal person to person relationships and now you have to wonder if this type of technology is good.

Relationships with your virtual character can start out as formal at first, and can become more demanding of the person's attention because this one is really well-made. Many of these Japanese games can be purchased by Americans from J List.

There is a lot of controversy in adult virtual games. Many men and women are attracted to these types of programs, but I want to know how far will the designers of these games go.

I think that many women will start to complain how their family lives were disrupted by their husbands addictions to Konami's hit. I wonder if this engagement with someone in a game can impact a couple's relationship.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Social Networks are a big target for advertising and marketing products.


Since I had recently heard an interesting presentation for on line advertising and marketing strategies, I wanted to share some of my findings according to a survey from IDC.

While social networking continues to remain popular and grow, advertisers looking to grab users attention are seeing low click-through rates.

There are four major reasons why people use social networks: to connect and communicate; in response to peer-pressure; for entertainment; and for work-related purposes.

More than 61 per cent of survey respondents spend more than 30 minutes per session on social network sites, and 38 per cent remained parked for one hour or more.

However, only 57 per cent of social network site users said they clicked on an ad in the past year, compared with 79 per cent of all internet consumers.

Despite its phenomenal growth, social networks have yet to reach online advertising nirvana. It’s a place where marketers are able to serve ads, promotions and offers to friends of friends based on other peoples recommendation, and where word-of-mouth marketing spreads to create waves of self-selecting consumers eager to interact with marketers, according to eMarketer.

It was projected in 2008 that advertisers would spend $1.4 billion to place ads on online social networks this year. eMarketer also forecast ad spending on social networks would reach $2.4 billion in 2011. This is a lot of money being spent on advertising. Will consumers that normally get attracted through ads by the normal or traditional advertising, such as paper or magazine ads get run down by the on-line marketing strategies? This will only take time to see if people using their mobile phones or the internet to look for products they are interested in purchasing will stop looking at traditonal print ads and put a real dent in the old way of advertising.