Street signs, content and the art of stopping eyeballs.

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What makes good content? I can wax on and give you the latest ten tips for making great content, but instead I’m going over simplify it because I’m in that kind of mood. Content is just like art. There’s good art and there’s bad art, depending on your perspective. My perspective is I like the kind of art that takes an everyday object and gives it a twist that in turn gets a reaction out of me. Any reaction will do. Here’s an example; I came across a post that documents unique street signs in Lyon, France.   I’ve passed street signs with the international cross-out symbol like these in my travels abroad and here at home as well, yet I have never stopped to take notice of the design. In a matter of milliseconds, my eyes see the sign, synapses fire off registering it as a sign, I may or may not heed the instruction, then the eyeballs get bored and find something else to feed off of. Poof, forgotten seconds after the experience. But these French signs are memorable. There’s a lesson here. Content should be thought of in the same way. Why not approach your next article, newsletter, video, social media campaign etc., with the same kind of goal? Take the everyday concept and put your own personal spin on it. Recycling the same old information that anyone can find on the intertubes is easy. Coming up with a unique angle on a concept takes a heck of a lot more effort and creativity. Do the latter. If you do it right, people may just stop and take notice.

Is Social Media Hyperlocal Or Mere Hype?

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You’ve known that social media was important. You’ve been told countless times. And indeed it is. But this is the first time I think I’ve seen anyone call it hyperlocal.

(Source) The firm also says that even though the web is world-wide, its emerging power is hyperlocal. This is because this is the space where online and offline most often meet. That is a key reason why businesses, particularly local businesses should not ignore social media.

What does hyperlocal actually mean?

Hyperlocal is a phrase that has been around for awhile, but it is usually used in a context referencing other media, rarely social media. I have seen it used in reference to blogs where the hyperlocal blog is described as a blog whose mission and purpose is to serve a specific niche in a local environment or a very small geographic area. But how can social media in the broader sense be hyperlocal?

I think the idea here is that local businesses seeking to connect to customers and potential customers can do so on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn but rather than seeking out connections on a global level, you can seek out relationships on a purely local level. Facebook, with its local networks, makes this easy. Twitter is flexible enough that hyperlocal businesses can make good use of it as well. Other social media can be used in a hyperlocal context as needed.

Just because the term hyperlocal is being used in reference to social media doesn’t mean it’s being used that way – yet. I do see some local businesses making use of Twitter, but there’s still lots of room to grow. Facebook is probably leading the pack. YouTube is growing a strong hyperlocal user base as well.

When it comes to social media, if you’re a local business in a specific geographic area, you don’t have to count yourself out of the social media game. In fact, you can use social media in your favor.  Just be sure that you don’t get wrapped up in the global hype and focus on your goal… to engage your customers and get new ones to try you out.

Can You Be A Top Brand?

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An interesting survey shows the top online brands and reveals what made them so. The three attributes the top 10 brands online share are:

  • Trustworthiness
  • Helpfulness
  • Relevance

From Google and Sony to Amazon and Apple, the top brands online are brands that have reputations as companies who are trustworthy, helpful, and relevant. Does that describe you?

It’s clear that online branding has become one of the most important aspects of business in the 21st century. Google has a lot to do with that. Being the top resource for many consumers searching for information about brands online, Google has done a stellar job of positioning its own brand. Naturally, we trust Google as a resource for developing our own.

Amazon has become synonymous in recent years with e-commerce. There is no other e-commerce company that is as trusted as Amazon. Ebay may be a close second, but it still trails even though it did make the top 10 list. It isn’t far behind.

The leading social network, of course, is Facebook, followed by MySpace.

If you’re building your brand online then there is something to learn from this list. And it isn’t that you should be a search engine, a social network, an e-commerce or auction site, or a computer technology company. Rather, the lesson to learn is that no matter what niche you are in, it is important to build trust, be helpful, and establish yourself as relevant to consumers within your niche. If you can’t achieve at least one of those three attributes then you likely won’t be a brand that consumers will come to rely on.

Does YouTube selectively block certain features for some videos?

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I was recently cruising the YouTube community help forum and reading the “bugs” section when one entry caught my eye. A link to ” An update on Video View Counts” had over 1440 replies. If that many people are talking about something, you know it must be a big deal. Here’s the gist; you post your video and you start getting lots of vies…then suddenly the views stop (or at least it appears that they have stopped). It’s like the views get frozen and don’t update even if you know your aunt Lucy just viewed your video. Liz, a YouTube support person, did admit that there was an issue and posted this reply,

Occasionally, when a video becomes popular quickly, it takes our computers longer to make sure those views are accurate. This means a video’s viewcount may not update for several hours, sometimes allowing ratings and comments on the same video to climb temporarily higher than the views.  So if you see your video views aren’t moving, or that your video’s comments and ratings are moving faster than your views, don’t worry. If you’re still getting views, the count should update soon.

It looks like the problem persists and there really isn’t anything that can be done if this happens to you. You are SOL. I wonder if this would cause marketers to migrate to other platforms, like Vimeo, to distribute their videos. Have you found yourself in this situation? If so, what steps did you take to address the issue? Did you stay with YouTube? Did you move on?

Are You Ready To Give Up On Banner Ads?

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Yahoo! championed the idea of banner advertising in the early to mid-90s and many small businesses have spent the money on the ads – at Yahoo! and elsewhere. But a recent survey shows that more than 50% of small businesses are ready to ditch banner ads in favor of other forms of Internet marketing such as SEM, e-mail marketing, and social media. Are you one of them?

It’s easy to see why banner advertising is out. Small business owners are really starting to see what the rest of us have seen for some time. People just don’t click on those ads or they have trained themselves to ignore them, causing what some industry experts call ad blindness.

As more and more Internet users became more sophisticated and educated about how the Web works, click-throughs on banner advertising has declined. So what does this mean for other forms of digital media? Will PPC advertising and search engine marketing experience the same fate? How about video marketing? What do you think?

How Google Aims To Save Copyrights

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Google is no stranger to controversy. One of the most controversial subjects the search engine has been involved with in the last couple of years has been the struggle over orphan works and the rights to them. You can read more about this controversy here.

It’s easy to see why Google’s approach to digital rights, particularly with regard to orphan works, is so controversial. There are a lot of questions it raises about who has a right to profit from such works in the future. Specifically, some of the best questions about Google’s proposal are:

  1. What room will there be for future competition?
  2. Who will own the rights to orphan works if the authors don’t show up?
  3. Who will own the rights to orphan works if the authors do show up?
  4. Who should be allowed to profit from orphan works?
  5. Should orphan works be treated differently than works where the author is known and can be found?
  6. What about international or foreign rights? How are those affected?

An orphan work, if you’re not familiar with the term, is a creative work whose author cannot be located and for which the copyright may not otherwise be expired. In other words, a work of creative imagination created in the last 20 years where the author is not known and/or cannot be found could be considered “orphaned”. Should it become a part of the public domain?

These are not easy questions, but they are questions that will likely be answered by the courts some time in the near future. Meanwhile, Google is attempting to get a handle on the creation of a new digital library that will make such works more accessible to more people. Is that a good idea?

Tweet-a-wish. Using social media to make a difference.

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What if you could help a sick child make a wish come true? Now you can. In a recent PR Newswire release, real-time search-engine LeapFish just partnered with the Make-a-wish foundation to announce “Tweet-a-cause,” a twitter-based campaign that will help a child with a life-threatening disease realize his dream… to go to Disneyland. Here’s how it works. LeapFish will donate 5 cents for every Tweet you to the Make-A-Wish Foundation until $10,000 has been raised to cover the cost of sending Jacob, age 4, and his family to the magic kingdom

“We are privileged to be able to make a difference in young Jacob’s life by helping his dream come true,” said Ben Behrouzi, CEO of LeapFish. “What better tool than Twitter to get the community involved and allow everyone to share in making a difference for someone.”

As of this writing, already over 500 tweets. Why not do your part. For more details on the campaign and how to help, visit LeapFish.com/MakeAWish

Want to learn more about LeapFish? Check out the LeapFish promo video below.

MSN Video gets a Bing facelift.

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Microsoft ups their video search offering by launching an all-new Bing video search engine which replaces the MSN video search. According to a recent release by cynopsis: digital via contributor Wayne Karrfalt,

“the new Bing Video site provides a straightforward interface that points users to videos that are gaining steam or are new to the web. Partnerships with Hulu, ABC and YouTube give Bing access to over 900 TV shows in all. The new Bing also now includes results from its recent licensing deal with next generation search system Wolfram Alpha

I checked out the new Bing Video section, and was impressed by the clean Hulu-like design. Here’s a link from CNET if you want to read more or just click on the video, which weirdly features the MSN video logo and not the Bing logo. What’s up with that?