Monthly Archives: September 2012

Derrick Rose Returns… Sort Of

I hope the title of this article didn’t excite basketball fans too much, or fill them with any false hope.  According to USA Today, Derrick Rose will probably not return onto the playing court until at least early next year.  But in conjunction with the launch of the D Rose collection and basketball shoe by Adidas on October 4, the brand has created a campaign that is sure to pump fans up.

Adidas’ “The Return of D Rose” campaign features a commercial that shows how the world stopped when Rose tore his ACL during a playoff game.  Chicago fans are frozen, and the disbelief and shock is evident on their faces.  Then, as he gets back into the game with intense workouts that mark his recovery, the fans come back to life as well.  Hence the term “All in for D Rose.”

The commercial ends with a triumphant Rose running back onto the court, ready to play once again.  The spot will begin airing next week.

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Five Months in the Real World

A few days will mark five months since I finished school and stepped out into the “real world.” Last night during a four-mile run, I evaluated the last few months in my head.  I thought about how far I’ve come, how much I’ve learned and how many things I still need to figure out.

When I started college, I thought I wanted to be a doctor.  Then I realized that although I find medical science fascinating, I’m a little squeamish when it comes to body fluids, funky smells, and people in immense pain.  I switched my major to business and was absolutely miserable in all of the useless math classes on my schedule (does anyone actually use calculus?).  As I sat stressed out of my mind in an FIU advisor’s office one day and told her my thoughts, she suggested that I become a communications major.  “You’ll never have to take a math class again,” she promised.

Minutes later I declared myself a Public Relations major at FIU’s School of Journalism and Communication.  I absolutely loved all of my SJMC classes and everything that I was learning in them.  When trying to decide on a minor, several advisors told me that I was a decent writer and explained that it pairs well with a PR degree.  Creative writing it was.

I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree from FIU in December 2009 and had a rough time getting a job in Miami.  No habla es panol.  So I packed my life up into my Mini Cooper and drove 2,700 miles to Los Angeles, California.

My first internship was at a fashion PR firm in West Hollywood.  I spent my days gifting celebrities with free clothes and handbags and then stalking them to see if they went out in public or were photographed wearing them.  Although I loved the west coast, I quickly lost interest in doing nothing meaningful and decided that it was a good time to return to school.  After six months in LA, I headed back to South Florida to start grad school classes at FIU.

I graduated from the two-year Global Strategic Communications program in 18 months, and three days after graduation I started working at BMI Elite, a full-service digital advertising agency in Delray Beach, Florida.  I was hired as a search marketing specialist, something I had never pictured doing and something I knew very little about.  The day I was hired, I only knew the following about search marketing: it had something to do with getting your website on the first page of search engine results, and it was a very big business with lots of promise, if you knew what you were doing.

I immediately began reading everything I could find on search marketing.  This wasn’t my dream job, but I told myself that I would give it a try for at least a few months. As long as I was learning something, it’s not wasted time. If I absolutely hated it, I could leave.

I show up to work every day ready to learn as much as possible, and that I have been doing.  I went from knowing virtually nothing about SEO to being able to explain the basics quite easily.  I’ve learned mostly from reading, writing blog articles about various topics and watching my boss, Darin Carter, do his thing (and asking him tons of questions).  After about two months of being at BMI and doing mostly copywriter work, I shifted more into a role of being Darin’s assistant.  He has been in the Internet marketing industry for over 13 years, and it’s incredible how much he knows, particularly about search marketing.  I try to learn everything that I can from him.

In addition to learning about search marketing, I have also learned a great deal about how to handle and communicate with clients.  When Darin is busy he doesn’t always get back to them right away and although he’s doing a great job for them, they get mad.   I have realized that most clients want their hands held for every step of a project and I can understand why.  Here they are, spending all this money for us to optimize their website or repair their online reputation, and they simply want to know what is happening and whether it is working.  What they often do not understand is that SEO is not instant and results do not happen overnight.  SEO is an art and a science, and beating thousands of other websites to the first page of search results takes time (now I sound like Darin).

I spend a lot of time trying to explain this to clients in the simplest way possible.  The most frustrating part of my job is the fact that I’m still new to this, and I don’t always have the answers.  They will come with time and experience.  I try to learn as much as possible as fast as possible, but like SEO, it doesn’t happen overnight and all I can do is keep going.  I am grateful for what I have already learned, as this is my favorite part of the job so far.

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Facebook Shares Drop Below $20 Again

So much for a big comeback from Facebook’s stock.

After Facebook stock hit an all-time low of $17.55 a share at the beginning of this month, Mr. Zuckerberg came forward and promised not to sell any of his stock for at least a year.  It was a move that was set to reassure investors and staff who were nervous about Facebook’s stock decline since its IPO in May.  It seemed to work at first, with the stock rising back up to more than $23.

But now the stock has fallen back down below $20 a share in early trading today for the first time in two weeks.  Facebook’s stock has declined this week following a particularly damaging report in Barron’s, which claims that Facebook’s stock is still extremely overvalued and should only be priced around $15 a share.  Another report from IDC also found that the majority of developers surveyed believe that a mobile-first startup would be “likely to very likely” to take away market share from Facebook.

Even though Zuckerberg assured investors that he and the company take mobile seriously, it seems like they have gotten nervous once again.  What is Mark Zuckerberg going to do to try and save the day this time?

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Chinese Social Media

Unlike most of the world, the people of China are not able to enjoy social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or YouTube, thanks to the government’s notorious Great Firewall, or as they call it, the Golden Shield.  Although some of these companies’ stated missions are to connect the entire world, they are unable to reach a third of the globe’s population.  There are currently about 513 million Chinese Internet users, more than twice the number of wired Americans.  The Chinese are enthusiastic social networkers, spending 46 minutes a day visiting social-media sites, compared with just 37 minutes in the U.S.

Even if Facebook, Twitter or YouTube did end up being granted a license by the government to operate in China, there is no guarantee that consumers would even sign up.  The local market is dominated by popular social networks with their own diversified business models, and the interest in them and the number of users continues to grow.  Chinese companies have the natural advantage of understanding the nuance of the Chinese consumer, giving them an edge over American sites.

According to Elle Lee, the founder and host of the online show Weibo Today, international audiences and brands usually have no clue about the social media landscape in China.  In an interview with Global Voices, she explains that it can be very difficult to understand to understand what is going on on China’s social media if you don’t speak Chinese.

As a marketer who is passionate about social media, it blows my mind that such a large percentage of the world’s population is using social platforms that the rest of us know so little about.  If I had unlimited time and income to take off and go explore China for a few months, I would.  But until I manage to find a sponsor for this project (or a sugar daddy), I will settle for doing some research to learn what China’s top social networks are and what they do.

Sina Weibo is the hottest social networking site in China right now. It consumes 90% market shares of China’s microblogging services with more than 300 million registered users and about 25 million daily users. It is the most popular social networking site in China’s 1st and 2nd tier cities among city dwellers and white-collar users.

Sina Weibo is often described as the Twitter of China, as some concepts are similar, but it has twice the amount of users.  Like Twitter, it is a big driver for consumer activity and a big celebrity hub.  Both American and Chinese celebrities use the sites to connect with their fans and drive popularity.

Sina Weibo and Twitter are also both comprised of a “tweet” platform where people can post 140 characters, but the Chinese characters go much further than English ones.  140 Chinese characters can tell a full story, as opposed to English, where 140 characters is only about three or four sentences.

Features of Sina Weibo that Twitter lacks are threaded comments, stylized user pages, the ability to use rich media in ‘tweet,’ a badge reward system and Weibo Events.

Like Sina Weibo, Tencent also has a user base of over 300 million people.  It is the preferred platform in China’s 3rd and 4th tier cities and rural areas.  One advantage that Tencent has over Sina Weibo is its ability to sync with all of Tencent’s other social platforms. It is the equivalent of a social media hub, owning many other social platforms including QQ chat and Qzone (similar to MSN messenger and MSN profile accounts). Due to its multiple platforms, Tencent maintains the biggest community in China in terms of sheer registered users.

RenRen is often referred to as China’s Facebook.  The site’s interface, functionality and features are very similar to Facebook.  RenRen is a public company that makes a majority of its revenue through social games like Happy Farmer(similar to Farmville) and the website is filled with ads and product placements within 3rd party applications.

Like Facebook, it began with a predominantly student user base, but it is currently trying to expand.  With over 148 million registered users and 31 million active users per month, Renren is taking over as the top social networking platform for the college-educated population in China.

Youku is a video hosting platform that only loosely enforces copyright laws.  If YouTube and Hulu had a baby, it would be much like Youku, as many popular TV shows and movies are posted freely on it.

In addition to having its own social networks, China also has its own major search giant.  Baidu holds an 80% share of the Chinese search engine market, while Google reaches just 11% of market share.  It was created in 2000 as just a simple search engine, but it has developed into a multifaceted site providing a range of services including a Q&A forum, its own “Wikipedia” and instant messaging.

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Shazam Can Now Tag TV Shows!

Shazam has been an awesome companion to the radio for almost a decade, tagging songs so that anyone can find out what they are listening to at any time and giving users the option to download tagged songs instantly.

Now Shazam is reinventing itself by breaking into the TV market.  The app has launched a significant update that will enable its 80 million users in the U.S. to tag any TV show on over 160 channels, with the exception of some local-only shows such as news broadcasts.

Here’s how it works: if a viewer is watching “Dexter,” they can tag the show to identify not only what the show is, but access cast information and celebrity gossip, play trivia, engage with other viewers on social media and identify the music being played.  If it’s a sports event, the app will show schedules, scores and statistics.  TV shows are tagged the same way you’d tag a song, by opening the Shazam app and tapping the big button.

In addition to expanding the TV functionality of its app, Shazam is also becoming more social.  Users will now be able to see what their Facebook friends are tagging, and to comment on and discuss those tags.  Users will also be able to socialize over Twitter and Google+. These features will be launched in the coming weeks.

With this update announcement also came the news that Shazam has been used (not just downloaded, but actually used to tag content) by over 250 million people worldwide.  Time will tell whether these millions of users are as interested in tagging TV shows as music.

The app is available free on all major platforms including iOS, Android and Windows Phone.  How do you feel about using it to tag TV shows to get information?

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GoDaddy Goes Down

GoDaddy, the world’s largest domain registrar and one of the biggest web hosts, is experiencing outages today, possibly taking millions of websites down as a result.

“Status Alert: Hey, all. We’re aware of the trouble people are having with our site. We’re working on it,” @GoDaddy tweeted.

While GoDaddy.com’s site is up and running, websites hosted by the company are still experiencing outages. If you are being affected by this, you might be interested in switching to a new registrar as soon as GoDaddy returns.  Here are the steps on how to do so:

  1.  Login to your GoDaddy account and click on the “Domain Management” section.  This will open a page that allows you to manage your domain names.
  2. Next to your listed domains are different icons that allow you to access certain domain features.  Hover over the “lock” icon to check the status of your domain.  If it is locked, follow the next step.
  3. Unlock the domain (it was locked by registrars by default so that nefarious parties can’t transfer the domain out from under the real owner, but in order to transfer a domain you have to unlock it).
  4. Uncheck the box next to “lock domains” and click OK.
  5. Get the authorization code (sometimes called an AUTH, EPP or ACK code) to bring to your new registrars.  Click on the domain name you wish to transfer and on the “Domain Details” page, scroll to where it says “Authorization Code: Send by Email.”  Select this option and then check your email for an authorization code from the site.  You can now give this information to your new registrar.
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Seattle, Portland & Willamette Valley

I just returned back to South Florida from an incredible Labor Day weekend spent exploring Seattle, Portland and the town of Dundee, Oregon (located in Willamette Valley).  The northwest was the only part of the country that I had never really been and I liked it a lot more than I expected to.  There’s lot of trees and beautiful scenery, fresh food and friendly, happy people everywhere.

Whenever we talk about the other places we would like to live, my boyfriend Jeremy often mentions Seattle.  The only thing I knew about the city before this trip was that it doesn’t have an NBA team and that it’s cold, rainy and gray for about seven months of the year.  I am a Floridian who loves my sunshine and Heat, so I was a little unsure.

We decided to check it out for the long weekend, which also happened to be Jeremy’s birthday.    The long, deal breaking winters are a damn shame because I really fell in love.  I loved the way Seattle is a colorful, diverse, big walking city without being overwhelming like NYC or Chicago.  It’s the perfect sized city for me.  While we were there we had six days of sunshine, and if it could be like that for a little longer than three months I could see myself living there.

Portland, on the other hand, was a bit of a disappointment.  The people (hippies) were nice, the farmer’s market at the university was huge and impressive and the fresh food was delicious, but the city is just sooooo damn sloooooow.  Service, although pleasant, took forever and nobody seemed to be in any sort of rush to accomplish anything.  We actually walked into a business hoping to get a drink early in the evening, only to be told that they were closing early because they were tired. Seriously?  I know this is only one small example, but this pretty much sums up the overall vibe that I got from the people in Portland, and I need to be surrounded by a little more motivation than that.

Here are some of my favorite places and things that we ate/saw/drank/did:

Seattle

Pike’s Place Market. Probably the biggest tourist attraction in the city, but for a good reason.  Fresh, local food everywhere and some of the best restaurants and happy hour deals around (we loved The Athenian).

Matt’s in The Market. Our dinner spot for the first night in town.  It’s on the third floor of a building facing the market, and being seated next to the huge open windows provided some of the most beautiful views of the sun setting over the water.  My favorites were the Dungeness crab ceviche and guacamole and foie gras with chocolate doughnuts.  Service-A, Ambiance- A, Food- B.

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Art of The Table. The perfect place for a date or celebration.  There are only six tables and a small bar in the place, and five employees.  The menu changes weekly and for $80 gets you a 10-course sampling of most of it.  This is what we did, and I can honestly say that every single thing I tried was delicious.  Service- A, Ambiance- A, Food- A+!

Bathtub Gin & Co.  A cozy little speakeasy that was not so easy to find.  We were lost in an alley for almost 10 minutes before we spotted the entrance, but I’m so glad we didn’t give up. The bartender Matt’s mixology skills were one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen.  He didn’t make a single vodka and cranberry or rum and coke- everything was a carefully-mixed specialty drink, crafted with so many different types of fresh fruit, bitters and mixers.  Even the way he cut fruit and crafted twists was impressive, and he had some awesome jokes.  Every night Jeremy and I joked that instead of going out and exploring new places, we just wanted to go hang out with Matt again.

Kerry Park.  We were instructed by a local to check out this park for the most amazing view of the city.  We were not disappointed with what we saw when we got to this little gem in the West Queen Anne neighborhood.

Capitol Hill.  The “gayborhood.” Lots of cool little restaurants, bars and shops with character.  Jeremy scored a sweet new little party shirt from a vintage shop.

The Escala.  Ladies, the Escala is not fiction.  I wonder if Mr. Grey is.

Lola.  Across the street from the Escala is Lola, a breakfast spot that was recommended to us by Matt the Bartender.  After a long night of drinking, Lola’s fresh powdered doughnuts with homemade cream and blueberry jam and omelets hit the spot.  Service- B, Ambiance- A, Food- A

Toulosse Petit.  This Lousiana-style cajun restaurant was so yummy that we visited twice.  Service- A, Ambiance- A, Food- A+

 

Cougar Mountain.  We took a nice hike about 30 minutes east of downtown Seattle.  Lots of little trails and beautiful greenery!

Portland

Farmer’s Market.  We hit the biggest one at Portland State University.  The amount of amazing fresh food was overwhelming.  Just look at how many different-colored tomatoes there were!  Walked around for about two hours, ate breakfast from the Verde Cocina stand and bought enough fresh food for a small feast, which we enjoyed that night.

Aviary.  A newer, tapas-style restaurant on Alberta, one of Portland’s more “happening” streets.  We had a nice outdoor table that overlooked the block.  Pleasant but extremely slow service (15 minutes just to get a cocktail).  Luckily we were in good company and in no rush.  Service- C, Ambiance- B, Food- B

 

Willamette Valley. 

All three vineyards and wineries that we visited were at the top of the hills, so we had some of the most beautiful views.

Erath Winery

Bella Vida Vineyard

White Rose Vineyard

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Why You Should Be On Google+

In the year or so since it was launched, Google+ has not exactly become the popular social network that Google imagined creating. Considered an epic failed by some, Google claims that there are currently about 75 million daily active users, but their calculation methods are sketchy at best.

Considering the social network’s lack of popularity, should your even bother with having a Google+ account for your business? Ab-so-effing-lutely!

The free SEO boost that your site will get is the first reason that your business should be on Google+. When someone Google’s you or your businesses’ name, your Google+ profile will come up as a good result, and there’s a better chance that your site will show up quicker on organic search.  Consider it an extra opportunity to get some fresh content out there about you.  Because your Google+ information will rank high, this also can also come in handy if you want to push a different search result down to the second page (a result that you don’t own, or something that might be negative).

Another benefit of the social network is that it integrates with all of Google’s other (extremely successful and popular) public-facing services including search, Google Places, Google Shopping, Google Maps and more. If you run a small business, such as a pet service or clothing store, having a Google+ page will help add valuable data to your Google Places pages.  Google’s recent Zagat acquisition also gives restaurants a boost by posting their rating in the results.

Google+’s integration with the search engine’s other products can also be used as a powerful tool for a small business to communicate internally. It allows you to do a variety of tasks within the same platform. For example, while writing on Gmail, you can hop on to Google+ to communicate ideas with co-workers in real-time. You don’t have to jump from Facebook to Hotmail to Skype just to communicate because Google has it all. It makes swapping information, documents and ideas easier among the employees within your business.

The last reason that your business should absolutely be using Google+ is because it’s there and it’s free. It’s relatively quick and easy to set up and use, so why not? You have nothing to lose, and who doesn’t like an increased presence in the search engines?

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Casey Kurlander, Search marketing Specialist, BMI Elite