Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Social Media Marketing: The Next Generation of Business Engagement

Social Media basically refers to the usage of web-based and mobile technologies to convert communication into an interactive dialogue between users online or between the consumer and the company/brand.
It can take different forms such as through magazines, Internet forums, web blogs , micro blogging, wikis, podcasts, photographs or pictures, video, rating and social bookmarking. ‘Social Media Marketing’ basically is ‘the interactive dialogue’ between customers and brands, whereby they can directly communicate with each other. This ‘new-age’ technology has grown by leaps and bounds over a mere span of a few years and has broken most barriers of communication making the world a much more global one whereby any company/person can connect with another via social media sites. 
With technological advancements and the Smartphone Revolution people have become internet savvy, and it has empowered them to not only create, participate, and share content on the Web but also to have meaningful conversations with people across the globe at any given point of time- thereby breaking communication barriers. Social Media has induced a sense of constant engagement between people not only through our old methods of interaction- Google talk, yahoo messenger, and MSN messenger, but it has taken a giant leap ahead whereby the internet is now not just a luxury in one’s life but more of a necessity paving way for other social media methods- Facebook, Skype, Twitter, Message Boards, RSS feeds, YouTube, Flickr, Picasa Google+, LinkedIn, Flickr, online chats, etc. It is a very useful tool for increasing the company’s profits and fetching more and more business. 
Social networking through the various social media sites has grown like a viral effect with the rapid growth and usage of smartphones which facilitate Facebook, twitter, you tube and other networking sites. Browsing the internet through the cell phone has replaced the need for old-fashioned computers and new technological devices- I- touch, I-Pad, and tablets have made social media marketing an easy, convenient yet fun method of engagement. 
One can log into their favourite networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, you tube, and sharing sites like Digg, social forums and review sites easily and quickly and have information at one’s disposal. Social media has created a virtual world for the individual through sites like YouTube, Second Life, Podcasts, Facebook, etc. This has in turned changed the culture making it more individualistic. Social Media Marketing has thus created the individual into a Digital Activist. The individual is no longer a passive consumer of products and services and seeks a dialogue with companies/brand product. Social Media Marketing has thus helped tremendously in personal branding of the individual as well as in boosting a company/brand’s presence online. It not only bridges the communication gap between the consumer and the business but also makes the business more accessible to the consumer thereby making the consumer more aware of the business/ its products, etc. Social Media Marketing for businesses is not merely about having their presence on the social media platforms like twitter, face book, or LinkedIn- but it is also about understanding the social interaction patterns/behavior, people engagement, online brand reputation and also managing the consumer’s expectations to build long-term relationships with the company/business and engage in online conversations with people who are interested in the product/brand/ service. Social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter allow individuals to interact with one another and build a relationship with the company. When companies or brands join these sites people can thus directly interact with the company or brand thereby creating a very personal interaction. Through these conversations and interactions with individual followers, a sense of loyalty can be instilled into the followers and potential customers. 
This helps the business to create a strong foundation which ultimately will contribute to long lasting success. 
What do you think? Is Social Media Marketing the next generation of business engagement?

Combining SEO & SMO to optimise your website

In the web-dominated world that we live in, creating and maintaining a website for your business/company is an essential requirement for your business to grow. With the increasing usage and need for the internet, people spend a lot more time ‘ONLINE’ reading about business’s, companies, news, fashion, music, etc, rather than reading in the traditional style- newspapers, book, magazines, etc.
Having a website for your company/business is the most effective way of reaching out to your consumers.
Traditional forms of finding information online involves searching for information using various different search engines like Google, Yahoo or Bing,  a practice called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
It includes making sure that your website gets better rankings  while being searched in the different search engines, and appears above others.
Social Media Optimisation (SMO), the new method of gaining online publicity includes using various social media networking sites like Facebook, Orkut, Twitter, You Tube, Digg, Linkedin, Bebo, Google + , etc. to engage users to interact with one another or with companies/brands.
These social sites are online hubs where  people/communities or companies can interact with one another and get immediate feedback and interact on an ongoing basis. It thereby bridges the gap between people and makes communication much easier and cheaper. More importantly, if you have established your presence on social media networking sites, this will automatically appear on the various search engines when someone searches for your company/business. For eg. If you enter keywords like ‘travel’ you should be directed to web sites relevant to travel like Lonely Planet, Cleartrip, Makemytrip, etc.
SEO and SMO are thus the two most important  factors to help promote your business  in the digital media/website promotion. 
Attaining prime visibility for your website is very essential to attract customers.  Marketing your product well through the various social media sites as well as getting good SERPS (Search Engine Results Page) will help you make a strong impact on any consumer’s mind.
SERP’s are basically a list of results on your search engine in relation to a query  that has been entered using one or more keywords.
Maintaining good online publicity through search engines sites as well as social media networking sites are key factors to increase the profitability of your business. The more people who come to know about your business the higher the chances are that they will start using/investing in your business.
Contextual links and back linking form an important part of SEO. They are the internal links on your web page.
Contextual links are basically the text that you enter in your search engine that you want to be associated with your website.This text should link you to a page pertaining to the keyword phrase that have you entered. For example: Corolla Altis should be able to link you to a page about Corolla cars of the Altis model. 
Contextual backlinks refer to the incoming links to your website. They are very important for website optimization, especially for SEO.
Using both SEO techniques as well as social media sites to promote and enhance your website are very important for every business. It is essential for every business/company/person to find their place and promote their business/companies/services through Facebook and Twitter, etc.
Websites not only provide contextual links, backlinks, but also social media shortcuts directing you to the companies profile on Facebook, Twitter, etc.  The internet has become an indispensable part of everyones life where smartphones are the easiest way to stay connected. Almost every cell phone has social media networking sites and internet browsing options.
Combining SEO and SMO are thus essential tools for optimising your website. 

How does Content Curation Work ?

Day by day, online platforms are embracing social media in every possible way that they can, be it Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or any other social networking site. This is extremely important for every business in today’s digitised time. The need for relevant and good content has been, and will continue to remain, the most integral aspect for any business. So what is the basic difference between ‘content’ and ‘content curation’? What are the different tools that can be used for curating content across the web?

While content simply refers to information or ‘data’ which holds some relevance to a certain topic, it can be expressed through any medium, be it the internet, audio CD’s, television, stage performances, magazines, etc. In short, colloquially, one can refer to ‘content’ as the subject matter of the medium.
On the other hand, content curation refers to the process of collecting, organising and presenting data/information, which is relevant to a particular topic/area of interest. This content is often accompanied with images or video links to make the piece of content as interactive and engaging as possible.
This is especially beneficial for SEO, as content curation helps to increase the website visibility. It also epitomises social sharing, whereby more content can reach out to a larger number of readers. Content curation is known not only for amassing and aggregating content, but also for enabling marketers as well as digital professionals in the field to re-channel relevant content. It also allows them to spark engagement as well as awareness about different products and/or services with customers.
So, in short, content curation refers to the process of not only analysing and sorting through Web content (data), but also presenting it in a systematic and organised manner that is based around a certain theme. 
There are many different online curation tools that can be used to curate the content and connect with the target audience. Some of these include Storify, Feedly, iFlow, Curata, Bundlr,, StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicious, and Google Reader
Some of the golden rules of Content Curation include:
1)  Use Unique Content: One thing that Google does not like is plagiarising. It is very important to include original content in the curation, original analysis and insights that augment the content that you are aggregating. The more unique the content, the higher the ranking for the curation will be in different search engines. The content will also be safer with regard to future algorithm changes. 
2)  Link to Only High-Quality Sites: While curating content it is very important to include links, and only those links which are of high quality. These links are of extreme importance to your curation and need to be reliable. Including links that lack trustworthiness may be harmful for the content in the search rankings.
3)  Add Value for the Reader: For a reader the content has to be of some value and interest. It is important to know who your target audience is before writing and developing a connection through your content. This will help in establishing an interest with your reader. A reader needs to like your content, in order to share it!
4)  Build Relationships with Your Curation Sources: In case your piece of content includes part of an author’s or publisher’s article, it is very important to first reach out to them and ask for their permission to include their piece in your curation. If they agree, ensure that you notify them when you share the curation.  They will not only help to share the content, but also help in boosting online traffic and reach. 
Focus on every type of content: After you have written your piece, ensure that you include as many touch-points as possible. Include images, info-graphics, whitepapers, visual representations, videos, etc.