The Mars Greenhouse Approach to Content Marketing

mpx-mars-2020-rover

Courtesy: NASA/Space.com

In 2021, NASA says there will be greenhouses on Mars.

It’s part of a newly announced experiment that examines how plants grow on the barren red planet. NASA states the probe will lift off  in mid-2020 and if all goes well, the mobile greenhouse will arrive at its destination in early 2021. The plants will be completely contained in a rover, eliminating the chance for Earth life to contaminate Martian soil.  NASA says the greenhouse is just the first step in creating a “long-term, sustainable base” on Mars and its success depends on the future of human colonization on the planet.

Whether you realize it or not, the Mars Plant Experiment has a lot to do with your blog and social media content. Since we’re suckers for space parallels, we like to think our content is a type of “Mars Greenhouse Experiment” of its own. Think about it: we’re planting our content seeds (blogs, social posts, etc), watching them grow via analytics and seeing if it works for the type of environment (blog, social media sites, etc) we raise it in. Ultimately, we’re looking to cultivate our content so that it thrives in a sustainable way.

Here are 5 ways to amp up your content strategy based on the Mars Greenhouse Experiment:

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Foursquare announces new spin-off app

 

swarm logo newwww

The digital horizon looks bright for Foursquare.

The app-based social network announced May 1 that it would be splitting its product into two separate entities: Foursquare and Swarm. While Foursquare will continue to offer users a location-based discovery experience, Swarm will primarily focus on personal connections through proximity.

What does that mean?

It means that Foursquare is on its way to reinventing itself to take out the creep factor and add in the friend element. The main goal of Swarm is to show you which of your friends are in your general area and who is available to make plans with.

We built Swarm because you’ve told us how often you still have to text your friends: “where are you?” and “what are you up to later?” We wanted to build a quick way for you to know these two things for all of your friends,” Foursquare wrote in their official blog. “With Swarm, you can easily see which of your friends are out nearby, figure out who is up for grabbing a drink later, and share what you’re up to (faster and more easily than you can in Foursquare today).”

Here’s a sneak preview, as originally posted on The Verge:

swarm_group

The app will be available for iOS and Android technology toward the end of May. If you want to be notified when the app is ready to download, check out Swarm’s website.

As for Foursquare, the company says it is going through a great transformation:

In the near future, the Foursquare app is also going to go through a metamorphosis. Local search today is like the digital version of browsing through the Yellow Pages (remember those?). We believe local search should be personalized to your tastes and informed by the people you trust. The opinions of actual experts should matter, not just strangers. An app should be able answer questions like ‘give me a great date dinner spot’ and not just ‘tell me the nearest gas station.’ We’re right now putting the final touches on this new, discovery-focused version of Foursquare. It’ll be polished and ready for you later this summer.”

Are you planning on using the Swarm app? Leave us a line in the comments and we may just publish them in a future blog! 

Google’s Social Media Definitions

If search engines were given earthly authority, Google would be king.  However, even with that impressive standing, Google isn’t the dictionary. A king aspiring to be a comedian? Yes. An engine of accurate descriptions? No.

Here are some of the best auto-fill descriptions for popular social networking sites. Enjoy!

FACEBOOK

fbdef

Quick! Somebody call the paramedics. The most popular social network seems to be losing consciousness. That, or it’s possessed…we can’t tell.

LINKEDIN

indef

Wow, such pessimism over the world’s only professional social network. If only they knew how much this platform is growing and thriving, especially in the world of online marketing.

 

 INSTAGRAM

instadef

Don’t believe anything Instagram says. Our guess is that it’s probably a bold-faced lie.

 

 PINTEREST

pinterestdef

Just because you can’t log into Pinterest doesn’t mean it’s stupid. That’s not nice.

 

YOUTUBE

ytdef

Houston, we seem to have a problem with the YouTube.

 

TWITTER

twitterdef

Oh, poor stupid, useless Twitter. #LifeIsMeaningless #TwitterProblems

 

FOURSQUARE

4squaredef

We refuse to believe Foursquare is dead. Especially in Istanbul.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

smbizdef

Such bitterness and angst. Are we sure Google auto-fill search isn’t run by teenagers?

 

GOOGLE

googdef

Here’s what we know: 1) Google is your friend with evil tendencies that 2) may or may not be Skynet and 3) is looking for minions. Sounds legit.

 

Have you experienced any Google Auto-Fill Awesomeness? Share it in the comments!

Have selfies gone too far?

Blue Swimsuit self portrait

Selfies are everywhere: from our social media news feeds to television to songs celebrating them on Top 40 radio stations. With stories like suicide attempts and plastic surgery inspired by selfie-taking, do you think the fad has gone too far? Read the Social Media Today exclusive here: Invasion of the Selfies

What are your thoughts on selfies? Leave a comment below or on Social Media Today.

Why the Tourism Industry Needs a Solid Web Presence

Think about it: how important is the website and social pages of a destination you want to visit? No matter if it’s a theme park, airline, tourist attraction or hotel, their social media pages and website must be:

  1. compelling enough to pique the interest of travelers,
  2. informational enough to tell them what they need to know and
  3. engaging enough to draw travelers away from their competition.

If you work in the tourism industry, does your website and social media pages literally scream the above goals or does it fall flat on its face? Read more about the importance of a strong presence in the digital universe in today’s SlideShare.

 

To Manage Social Media or Not to Manage…

 

Image Courtesy IdeaSedge.com

Image Courtesy IdeaSedge.com

That is the question.

There’s a raging debate in the world of business right now and it has to do with social media. No, it doesn’t involve getting reprimanded for using Facebook during office hours and it has nothing to do with accidentally tweeting scandalous content under the company account (though, this seems to be quite the issue lately– US Airways, anyone?). This debate has to do with whether or not to implement social media management within company boundaries or hire an outside company to do it for them.

While many business leaders believe updating social media is as simple as posting and responding to comments, the truth is that it is not enough to generate the level of success they expect.

It comes down to two major factors: money and skill. If a business has the resources to hire a talented, full-time social media specialist in-house, that’s great! But randomly assigning the task of social management to another employee when they have plenty of other tasks to get done is not the way to go.

Why? Here are five reasons it pays to have a social media company manage your platforms for you:

1. You can focus on running your business

Image Courtesy MichiganWorksKalamazoo.org

Image Courtesy MichiganWorksKalamazoo.org

Social media management is not a “wham-bam” job. Just like your career, it takes skill, continuing education and a thorough understanding of digital marketing and social behaviors to effectively carry out a social strategy. Why burden your employees with the task when you can easily hire a specialist to do the work for you? With the time you save, you can focus on what matters most: running your company.

2. Social media strategy is more than just posting to Facebook

Image Courtesy: Technet.com

Image Courtesy: Technet.com

One of the greatest misconceptions about social media is that all it takes is just a few minutes every day. Wrong! There is so much more that goes into successful social media implementation. A winning strategy includes:

* Analyzing and understanding analytics, target audience demographics and web traffic behaviors
* Serving as a fast-acting customer service agent
* Using digital advertising to boost visibility with Facebook ads, LinkedIn Sponsored Posts, Google AdWords, etc
* Engaging current customers with content they can relate to
* Using creative storytelling about your brand through social posts and blogs

3. You don’t have to worry about legal issues

Image Courtesy Bandl.typepad.com

Image Courtesy Bandl.typepad.com

Let’s face it: there are so many ways you could get in legal trouble through social media and digital marketing and the last thing you want is a lawsuit on your company’s hands. For instance, is that photo or video you’re sharing someone’s copyrighted property? Did you just post confidential information protected under HIPAA that should’ve been left off your company’s page? Are you disclosing any paid endorsements? Did you double-check that your email newsletter follows the CAN-SPAM Act? If you’re unsure about any of these and other online legal issues, it may be better relying on a trusted social media management company that keeps up with the ever-changing digital media laws.

4. Your customers get swift customer service

Image Courtesy Loyaltylab.com

Image Courtesy Loyaltylab.com

Whether you realize it or not, social media has become one of the primary ways users go about the customer service process. Let’s look at a few statistics:

* 71% of of 16-24 year olds go online when they have a problem with a product (2012 Sitel Study);
* 67% of 23,000 consumers in a J.D. Power and Associates study had used a company’s social media site for servicing; and
* 87% of consumers in the J.D. Power and Associates study said their online social interaction with the company positively impacted the likelihood that they’ll purchase from the brand, and that the responsiveness of the service representatives were a key of that satisfaction.
While consumers utilize many of a company’s social sites in this instance, the number one platform for customer service is Twitter. Are you using your Twitter account to answer the influx of questions and concerns from your customers? This is another time-consuming portion of social media and it helps having someone always there to help out.

5. Always on top of trends

canstockphoto14743868

The world of social media is always changing. Research into trends, predictions, and insight from industry leaders is the only way to stay on top of the social media landscape. If you don’t have 2 to 4 hours in a workday to dedicate to research and staying up-to-date with issues, you may want to consider hiring an outside social media specialist to help.

Are you thinking about hiring a company to help you out with your social networks? Let us help.

Kaleb Nation’s Secrets for Viral Success | Exclusive Interview

kaleb-nation-photo-2013

Courtesy: KalebNation.com

At only 25 years old, internet entrepreneur, TV personality and author Kaleb Nation has discovered the secret to virality.

Like Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and a number of other young online entreprenuers before him, Nation has found monetary success in the digital world. The college dropout has successfully branded himself as a creative internet guru, resulting in millions of views on YouTube and generating an income based solely on the Internet. Eventually, that success caught the attention of major companies like Taco Bell and Ford. After all, if he could do it, how could they?

His inspiring story is all part of a new project called Million Hits Secret, a training program through which he shares his online business model with businesses, brand managers and marketers all over the world.

tCloud Solutions’ Social Media Specialist Katie Parr had the pleasure of interviewing Nation about the newly-released project and how it seeks to transform the way people conduct business online, particularly through social media.

Katie Parr: What inspired you to embark on the Million Hits Secret project?

Kaleb Nation: Six years ago, when I was finishing my first novel, I started making YouTube videos for fun and shared them with my blog readers. Suddenly, my videos started to get a LOT of views — I now have over 50 million on one channel and 12 million on another, not even counting the 10 million hits to my websites! It turned into my second career: I’d write fantasy and sci-fi books for half of the time and produce funny YouTube videos for the rest.

It didn’t take long for companies to approach me, asking how I did it. I had no idea that so many successful business owners simply don’t understand how to use social media to generate sales. I worked as a consultant for many years, then was contact by a company that wanted to turn my experience into a training system. Fast forward a year of planning, 5 months of filming, 50,000 words of content… and Million Hits Secret was born.

KP: Describe this training system and why it’s important for businesses and entrepreneurs to take advantage of it.

KN: Million Hits Secret is six years of online experience condensed into a step-by-step program for people who want to make money online and boost their business with social media.

To put it into plain English, I took everything I learned from launching successful websites and viral videos, picked out everything that worked and generated a profit, and wrote out the exact steps in a way that even someone who’s never used social media can understand. Then I filmed it all!

I hate wasting time. Entrepreneurs are very busy and don’t want to spend six years figuring it all out like I did. So I created Million Hits Secret to show what actually works in the real world.

KP: Who will get the most out of this training system?

KN: Entrepreneurs and business owners will definitely use it most. It’s like a crash course on how to turn social media into a machine for business. Authors and people who want to be successful YouTubers will definitely benefit from it too—I actually show how I went from being too terrified to appear on camera to making YouTube my full time job!

I wouldn’t be surprised if other people use it just to generate some extra side income without appearing on camera at all. That’s actually how I got started; I didn’t plan on it becoming my career! So while I focus mostly on the social media aspect, it’s really all pointing to one solid outcome: how can regular people use the Internet to make money and eventually quit their 9-5 job?

KP: What’s one thing aspiring internet entrepreneurs don’t realize before launching their business online?

The fastest way to make money with social media is to stop thinking about making money with social media. I know that sounds counterintuitive but it’s very important. If you start a Twitter account just to rake in tons of cash, it won’t work because you’re missing the social in social media. The people you are selling to are real people, not numbers in a follower count.

I can say without a moment of hesitation that my success is thanks to the people I’ve connected with online. They’ve made me successful. But just look at my Twitter account: how many tweets do you see where I’m actually pushing any of my products? It’s all about giving before you can receive.

KP: What would you say to small businesses that won’t open a social media page or are on the fence about creating one?

KN: How are you still in business?…or in a nicer way… if Taco Bell, American Airlines, Apple, Dell, and J.K. Rowling can join social media, maybe you should, too.

KP: What are some of your predictions for the future of social networking?

KN: I think Vine is the next big thing, if it isn’t already. Media is constantly being digested in smaller and smaller formats. We hopped from movies to TV, from TV to YouTube, and now from YouTube to Vine. Every platform will continue to thrive but I believe Vine (or at least a similar spinoff that might not be invented yet) is the next media empire.

KP: How can someone go about learning from the Million Hits Secret system?

KN: It’s super easy! Just go to MillionHitsSecret.com and join the team. I take care of the rest.

For more on Kaleb Nation’s success in social media, log on to KalebNation.comMillionHitsSecret.comand Twitter, @KalebNation.

Google Reads Your Emails to Provide More Personalized Advertising

Courtesy: Google.com

Courtesy: Google.com

Someone’s reading your emails, and it’s not your employer or ex-girlfriend.

This Monday ( April 14),  Google updated Gmail’s Terms of Service, a portion of which clarifies how the company uses your email content for a more personalized web experience.

In it, Google states:

Our automated systems analyze your content (including emails) to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam and malware detection. This analysis occurs as the content is sent, received, and when it is stored.”

Many users are understandably upset by this and have called it an invasion of privacy.  However, Google responded by saying their actions are perfectly legal as users consent to such activity upon signing up to the free email service.

What do you think of Google skimming your email to make your web surfing more individualized? Sound off in the comments! 

How “Blood Moon” Lunar Eclipses Relate to Your Web Presence

red-moon-skywatcher

Courtesy: NASA; Space.com

Get ready, astronauts: you won’t want to miss tonight’s space show.

In the early morning hours of April 15, residents of North and South America will get a fantastic view of the first total lunar eclipse in a tetrad (which is basically a fancy word for a sequence of four lunar eclipses without a partial eclipse in between). However, tonight’s eclipse will be a little different, resulting in a visual rarity called a “Blood Moon”. That phenomenon pictured above is named for the way the sun’s rays shine through the Earth’s atmosphere and cast a reddish hue on the moon, making for quite a spectacular event.

Ready for another space metaphor relating to digital marketing? Of course you are.

Let’s liken your brand’s web presence to the moon. Certainly, you know what the moon is, but what is meant by web presence? When you search your name or company’s name, what comes up in the search results? Is it good or bad? What is your website like? Is it enticing enough to draw in traffic or is it scaring potential customers away?  What social networks do you use? Are you using them often? Are you using them well?

After you discern the answers to these questions, we can take the comparison between the moon and your web presence to the next level.

Here are two scenarios that can result during the eclipse of your figurative moon:

  1. Your web presence is ultimately eclipsed (obscured) by the shadow of your competitors.
    or
  2. Your web presence stands out among the competition in visual wonder, resulting in a blood moon eclipse.

Which eclipsed moon is the most like your web presence? Take a closer look at the way your online platforms are performing and make notes on things you can do better. If your content is dull, fix it. If you’re not engaging your fans as often or as well as you should, come up with a strategic way to connect and relate with them.

After all, you want your presence in the digital universe to have a lasting, profound effect on web users, right?

This digital universe needs more blood moons. Is your business’ web presence one of them?