Cool Flash Videos That Explain Social Media

Thought these Flash videos about social media were neat. They cover how HP used bloggers in their marketing plan, how Facebook Connect works, how to use Twitter as  a Tool, and how to create your own social network.

Salvation Army’s Online Marketing Efforts – Innovative, but not strategic

So I’m impressed by the creativity of the Salvation Army of Chicago’s marketing efforts. You can see their YouTube vide where they have Chicagoans helping them play a Christmas carol using the SA bells, and their online donation kettle.

They get a gold star for innovation, but no stars for effectiveness. Why? They did not develop a promotional plan for either effort, and in the crowded social media scape, there’s a good chance that no one will see these efforts.

Here’s where they can improve:

1. Their YouTube video should be on a channel that is branded with their colors and they should apply for nonprofit status through YouTube so that they can have a donate now button on their page. Even better, they should create their “red kettle” icon as a gif and upload it to their page. You’ll notice that no one has commented on their video. This is because (as far as I can tell) they have not promoted it to their list or social media sites. Neither their description nor the title of their video have the keywords “Salvation Army Chicago” in them, so traffic from search is limited. I don’t believe they’ve done any keyword research. If they did, they would use the worlds “holiday volunteering”, “Chicago at the holidays” are terms people are currently using in search. (You can see for yourself by using SEOBook.com’s free keyword tool).

2. Their online holiday kettle page does not allow sharing to any social media site (like Facebook). In fact, their set up process is 4 steps long. This has clearly not been tested by users. They should create shorter sign up process (user name and password with an email asking for more info later) and a link to the code that you can then embed into your blog, myspace, facebook, would be much more effective. I abandoned the process at step 3 when I was suddenly asked to fill out 15 fields. That’s too much info for helping SA by installing a simple widget onto my social media profile, blog or website. In fact, if you visit their Facebook page (with 4,000 + fans) they don’t mention either of these tools. And this is the type of community where (if you make it easy for them) they will spread your message to their friends.

I wonder what kind of adoption they will have with both endeavors. My guess is very little due to the fact that the widget was build without the user in mind and without any usability testing, both items where set up without any strategic thought to selecting keywords on the pages that would capture natural traffic, and (as far as I can tell) neither were launched with a promotional plan encouraging those they know to use and spread the tools.

So close and yet so far….

Trying to Reach High School or College Students? Don’t Email them

There are various studies out there that highlight the fact that high schoolers and college age students do not respond to marketing mail, and get most of their updates via social networking sites or texting.

Here’s one of those studies I though I’d share:

Today’s high-school and college students started using email at an average age of 13. Most have had an email address for 8 years and have about 2.4 email addresses each, yet 61% say they ‘never’ or ‘hardly ever’ read marketing emails, says a survey from eROI, MarketingCharts reports.

The research, which was designed to uncover how students communicate digitally and relate to email marketing messages, found that the majority of students do not feel companies are effectively speaking to them personally through email, and only 16% of students say they ‘frequently’ read the marketing emails they receive.

In addition to the majority of students not reading marketing emails, 66% of students similarly report rarely or never taking action after reading them.

One of the basic tenents of marketing is to outreach to your audience in the way in which they will most easily receive the message. If you sell prescription discount products, perhaps direct mail is still viable for you. But if you’re a youth nonprofit like 4-H, Youth Service America, or YMCA, you should make sure your marketing mix involves more social media outreach and text friendly marketing campaigns than a heavy mass email campaign.

Online Marketing 101 Training at Environmental Working Group

This is the first time I’m going to do a full online marketing 101 crash course (including email) in under an hour, so we’ll see how it goes. If you’re interested in viewing the presentation I’ll be using for Environmental Working Group this next week in Washington, DC, you can view the online marketing 101 presentation here.

iGoogle Themes for Nonprofits

From the Google blog:

“In the spirit of holiday giving, we’ve partnered with nonprofit organizations to create themes that showcase the change they are helping to create. With iGoogle Themes for Causes, you can show your support for the cause that inspires you most by adding that theme to your iGoogle page.

Our partners in iGoogle Themes for Causes span a variety of areas including the environment, international development, education, health, civil rights, and disaster relief. They include organizations like Heifer International, Oxfam America, Ashoka, Doctors without Borders, Save the Children, charity:water, and Conservation International — just to name a few. We’re honored to help these organizations increase their reach by making their themes available to the millions of iGoogle users around the world who care about the great work they’re doing.

The intent of these themes is to raise awareness as well as donations. Each theme has a “Donate” link that appears in the upper right-hand corner to make your holiday donations easier.”

Nice Analogy Between SEO and PPC

Thought this was a brilliant analogy about the difference between SEO and PPC, and it illustrates why I’m a SEO advocate.

PPC = renting the land
SEO = Owning it

Google reading brain wave patterns to test ads

I for one am excited about the intersection of neuropsychology and online advertising. I went to both an undergraduate and graduate program that were multidisciplinary programs, and I can’t fathom how people can make educated decisions without combining academic disciplines.

So here’s the snippet of an article from Search Engine Land that I found interesting:
Google is launching overlay ads on YouTube, and to “prove the efficacy of these ads, Google hired a company called NeuroFocus to conduct research measuring biometric response to the overlays through indicators such as brainwave activity, skin response, and eye tracking. The study discovered that viewers found the overlays “compelling and engaging” and that these ads generated a high amount of attention and emotional engagement for a variety of different brands and video types”.

In a world where we are constantly bombarded by advertising, it’s necessary to get even more sophisticated when measuring effectiveness. Studies show that only 40% of searchers even *see* paid search ads…

So you how do you know that your display, flash, or video ad is even generating a response when it’s launched for brand (not direct conversion) purposes? You measure brain waves and skin response.

Fascinating….

Google is now letting users vote on search results

Ok. I realize this is a beta program that you need to opt into, but you have to wonder if this is the first step in Google letting users have more control over voting on search results.

Here’s the description from the Google Blog:

Have you ever wanted to mark up Google search results? Maybe you’re an avid hiker and the trail map site you always go to is in the 4th or 5th position and you want to move it to the top. Or perhaps it’s not there at all and you’d like to add it. Or maybe you’d like to add some notes about what you found on that site and why you thought it was useful. Starting today you can do all this and tailor Google search results to best meet your needs.

Today we’re launching SearchWiki, a way for you to customize search by re-ranking, deleting, adding, and commenting on search results. With just a single click you can move the results you like to the top or add a new site. You can also write notes attached to a particular site and remove results that you don’t feel belong. These modifications will be shown to you every time you do the same search in the future.

So how does this impact non-profits?

If you haven’t optimized your title and description tag for each of your webpages (or if those tags are empty) users are going to vote your result out of the search results. At the moment, that only means you won’t appear for that person’s search results, but we have no idea how this data is going to be used by Google in the future.

So I would get started now to fill in those meta tags – and make them match & unique for each page. Make sure to write the description tag so that it entices the user to click (or now keep) your search result.

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