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Attention: Thieves don’t go on vacation.

I know Spring Break is coming up for many of you.  So I felt compelled to provide this public service announcement for the good of your homes and the things you own. It’s really simple. Keep your travel plans to yourself.  I know that you may feel the urge to post a message on Facebook like “I’m leaving on a plane to Hawaii for a week. See you when I get back.”  But what you’re really posting is “My home will be empty for the next week.  Here’s your chance to rob me of everything I own.”

Even when you get to your destination, be careful what you post.  I know that you may be tempted to share a photo of you and your companions having cocktails on the white sandy beaches of Aruba or Jamaica. But that photo may be the clue that a burglar needs to realize that he’s got plenty of time to get to your place and “take inventory.” If you must share your pics, do it when you get back.  I promise they will be just as interesting and exciting then.

This advice is not only good for when you go on vacation but also during your everyday life.  Even some of the most subtle messages can tip a potential burglar that your home will be vacant during a certain period of time.  Tweeting something like “My commute was longer today than usual” is an indicator that you have left the house and are likely to be gone for at least 8 hours. Looking forward to a happy hour with friends after work?  Avoid posting to your entire Facebook wall exactly where you and your friends will be for 2 – 3 hours after work. My advice is that you send a direct message only to the people who you’d really like to join you.  Then tag everyone that was there when you get home.

Oh, one more thing.  Make sure you check your privacy settings on Facebook. Especially when it comes to tagging and check-ins.  You could be out somewhere and a friend checks in with a mobile phone and lists you as being there as well. Keep the knowledge of your whereabouts under your control.

The infographic below points out that 78% of burglars use Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to target potential homes. Don’t let it be you that’s next on their hit list. The image also includes some additional tips for keeping your home and belongings secure from burglary. How are you ensuring that your home is safe from hi-tech social media burglars?

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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Someone’s looking you up on Facebook

Have you ever arranged to go to lunch or a business meeting with someone you’ve never met and once you get to the location, the person you’re meeting comes right up to you as if they’ve seen you before? You try to think back, “Have I met this person before?”  Then you realize what has happened.  They looked you up on Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social media platform that has your photo plastered on your profile.  Or has a co-worker that you rarely talk to ever approached you wanting to discuss the latest episode of your favorite TV show?  You guessed it, they saw that you “Liked” the show on your Facebook wall.  The knowledge is out there for the taking. We don’t have to go into any social situation uninformed. — Yes, I know there is a big issue going on about privacy in social media, but I’m not going there with this post.  Maybe another time.

We all do this. It’s human nature to try to find out about someone that you are going to meet. Especially, if you want to impress someone.  Whether you’re going on a job interview or a blind date, we’re likely to use the tools at hand (social media) to try to find out what makes this person tick.  A recent episode of “How I Met Your Mother” titled “Mystery vs. History” featured an entire storyline on how the show’s group of friends obsessed on finding a dark secret about Ted’s blind date on the internet.  Here’s a quick preview of the episode.

While it’s totally fine to look people up on the internet, you have to be aware that someone is probably looking you up as well. For instance, 45% of companies now conduct what’s called “social screening” when considering applicants for a job.  Often before they even look at your resume, they’re looking you up on Facebook or LinkedIn to see “what interests you.” Who needs to perform a background check when your whole life story is on your Facebook wall? Check out this infographic on interesting stats on social screening and “5 Ways to Ensure You Never Get Hired.” Are you in violation of any of these rules?

Social Screening on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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All my music is in the cloud!

I have started to embrace how cloud technology allows us to save and access our files, pictures and data at practically any location where we can use various devices. But until recently it never dawned on me that I can store my entire music library in the cloud.  It’s amazing the amount of freedom that I have with my song selection now.  If I’m in the mood for the soulful sounds of Marvin Gaye, I can stream from my own collection of over 60 of his greatest songs. While among close friends, I can use my smartphone to play a song from my cloud “virtual locker” that sparks memories of when we were in high school or college.Cloud Based Music

Before discovering that I could store my music in the cloud, for weeks I had been complaining that I needed to change some of the 800 songs that are on my iPod. I think there might still be a few holiday tunes still on it. But, I haven’t found the time to plug into my desktop and switch some of the songs. So, on occasions I’m still skipping through dozens of songs on my communte to work until I find something I want to listen to.

I began my journey of streaming music through the use of digital services like Yahoo Music (originally LAUNCHcast powered by Yahoo) and Pandora for several years. But those services are limited as they only allow you to listen to the songs that you are served up in their rotations.  If you haven’t upgraded to the premium versions (costs about $20 – $40 a year) of these type of services, you will quickly run out of times that you can skip a song during a listening session.  Plus, it may be days before you hear a particular song that you actually liked again. When I hear a song that I like, I want to own it and have instant access to it.

Recently, I ran across Google Music a service that let’s you “Discover. Shop. Listen. Organize. Share” music. Having an Android-based smartphone, I had to give it a shot and jump at the chance of having fast access to all my music on my phone or PC at work. It took about a day and a half to upload all my music and audiobooks to the cloud. Now with thousands of songs available at my will, I’m on “Cloud nine”!

For you Apple lovers, the brand (not the fruit), you can take advantage of storing your music in the iCloud. Uploading files, music, photos and documents to the iCloud pushes them to all your connected Apple devices. Also, if you haven’t built much of a music collection over the years, give Spotify a try. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s the next big thing in easy music access – it combines social media with the convenience of cloud based music. That’s all I’m saying about that.  I’ll wait anxiously for you to let me know what you think.  Drop me a comment.

R.I.P. Whitney, Davy and Etta.

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Poll: Where would you look… company website or Facebook?

Put yourself in my shoes for just a moment.  You are in the market to buy a new smartphone for your Sprint wireless service, but you don’t have a clue what are the latest “must-have” features that are included in today’s phones.  You are at your computer and ready to start your research.  You have two options for finding the info that will help you make the right choice for a phone that’s right for you.  Where online would you look to learn more about what smartphones Sprint has to offer?  Would you visit the Sprint company website or would you start with the Sprint Facebook page?

Before the introduction of Facebook, we had been trained for years that the easiest way to find info about a product is to type in a company’s name followed by a “.com” which would hopefully lead us to the correct company website.  But now, are we spending so much of our time already in the Facebook social environment that it is easier to type the company’s name in the Facebook search space to then be lead to a page displaying products and services along with consumer commentary?

Reports tells us that a majority of Americans (58%) begin their purchasing experience by doing online research to compare prices, quality and the product reviews from other consumers.  Experts predict that by 2015, the number of Americans researching for and purchasing products online is expected to surpass 200 million and 90% of the population’s internet users. So when you go online to look for that new phone, new car, new tablet or even dinner later tonight, will you be visiting the company’s website or finding their presence on Facebook?  It’s time for you to chime in!  Let me hear from you.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Social media is good for social change

Many companies are investing time and money in developing a social media presence that will help them connect with their current and potential customers. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube have become valuable tools in a company’s efforts to promote a brand. But just as social media can bridge the gap between a company and its customers, it can also lead the masses toward a common goal of supporting a good cause and bringing social change. The viral nature of social media and our internal need for sharing ideas lends to the success of nonprofit organizations gaining support from a growing number of followers.

Some of the notable nonprofit organizations currently seeing support grow through social media include:

Also, take a moment to browse through the many great causes that are featured on the Facebook page for causes.com. The fan page currently has an audience of over 9 million fans. Some of the “causes” listed on the page range from supporting Operation Smile to vowing not to text and drive to donating to the East Africa Child Hunger Crisis Fund.

Take a look at the infographic below to see just how social media has made an impact on support for nonprofit organizations and international causes.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Fan-made videos that make BIG buzz for brands

At the beginning of the Emerging Media course that I’m currently in, we had discussed how technology allows marketers to deliver their message digitally to consumers. But now more than ever consumers are able to help brands build buzz by creating their own user-generated content that supports the brands we love. Just spend some time looking on YouTube and you’ll find several ads and movie trailers that were created by the fans.  Many of these fan-made spots and short films appear to be produced with such high quality that they rival spots produced by some of the nation’s top advertising agencies and movie studios.

One notable video that I am compelled to share is a fan-made short film by Dan Trachtenberg that is based on the ‘Portal‘ video game franchise which debuted in 2007.  This video is so good at reconnecting me to the Portal universe, that I’m going to have to pick up a copy of Portal 2 which was released last year.  You see, marketers do benefit from fan-made digital content that supports their brands.  Check out this amazing video “Portal: No Escape” for yourself.  Since its upload to YouTube in August 2011, it has had over 7.8 million views. It’s viral buzz at its best.

Marketers are reaping the benefits of having consumers with such creative talents by urging them to produce home-made commercials for a chance to win a cash prize and their spot to be aired on television. If you’ve watched the Super Bowl over the past few years, you’re likely to have seen some of the best fan-made spots promoting Pepsi and Doritos.  Through their annual Crash the Superbowl contest, PepsiCo provides an outlet for talented fans to create Pepsi and Doritos brand TV spots to air during the BIG GAME.  So, what do the brands get out of it? — An arsenal of fun spots promoting their brand with relatively little to no big budget production costs and most importantly lots of buzz.  This “Man’s Best Friend” Doritos ad has gone viral with over 2.5 million views on YouTube since it was posted in January.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Pop-Unders: Annoying or Brilliant?

The week, I discovered the actual name of a form of internet marketing that I have been noticing for quite some time, probably years.  The “Pop-Under.” If you’re reading this, you’ve probably encountered the pop-under on several occasions and like me called it a pop-up ad.  But the big difference is when you visit a website that has a pop-under advertisement linked to it, the new browser window that features the web advertising opens up hidden under the browser window that you’re currently viewing.

Unlike pop-ups, when pop-unders open they wait patiently behind the scenes for you to close the current browser window and then present the ad on your desktop.  It is not as intrusive as it doesn’t interrupt your current browsing session and will not take you away from the original site that you were visiting.

I have to admit, that I don’t mind getting served up pop-under ads.  I have actually paid more attention to them.  They work because once my regular web experience is done and my browser is closed, they are prominently placed on the desktop and are not competing for my attention with any other media. If I like what they are advertising, I click and learn more.  If not, I close it and move on.

Netflix has been using pop-unders as a major part of their internet marketing strategy for years. I have noticed them on several occasions.  Some people consider them to be annoying.  Here are a couple of samples of their pop-under windows:

In the right hands I think that pop-unders can be a useful marketing tool to enhance a brand, especially when coupled with behavioral and keyword targeting. Just as long as they are simple pages that invite you to inteact with the message as show above with Netflix.  Pop-unders that include flash with sound can be just as bad as any old pop-up.  Just keep it simple (and tasteful) and it’s less likely to annoy us.  Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts.

Related Links on Pop-unders:
How Pop-Under Ads Still Work Despite Pop-up Blockers?

Pop Under Advertising

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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