Connect on the Go With IM Chat Clients for Your Smartphone

The problem with having too much of a good thing is that you don’t know which you must choose – imagine yourself in this situation; you’re allowed to eat as many ice creams as you like, with the only catch being that any ice cream parlor stocks only one particular flavor.

So unless you want to gorge on one flavor alone, you have to visit several different stores to sample different delights. Now, what if some enterprising soul came up with the idea of an online store where you can just sit at home and order any flavor from any store that links to the online store?

You’d wax eloquent about the store, wouldn’t you?

Now let’s carry over this analogy to the world of social media – with the plethora of social networking options that are available today, it’s hard to pick just one to stay connected to your friends.

And while some of your friends are on one site, others are scattered across the world of social media.

So you have no choice but to get on to those sites as well if you want to stay in touch. But considering that you cannot be online on all of them at the same time unless you’re on a PC or notebook and can open multiple windows and IM clients, messaging when you’re on the move becomes a chore. It’s like having to visit several different ice cream parlors to eat all that you want to eat.

But with the arrival of IM chat clients, it’s like you can put all your social media eggs in one basket and carry it around on your smartphone. Services like Nimbuzz, Fring and eBuddy allow you to integrate all your social networks into one common platform. So you’re always online and always accessible to your friends no matter which social network they’re on. You can consolidate your accounts on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, AIM, Skype, ICQ, Gadu-Gadu and Hyves onto a single platform and see which of your friends are online through the indicator against their screen names. Also, you know which network they’re on by the logo of the social page that’s displayed alongside their name.

Most IM clients for your phone allow you to not only carry on text chats in real time but also provide voice calls over VoIP as well. However, this works only if both parties have the same VoIP platform (Nimbuzz users can call others who are on Nimbuzz and so on); if the call has to terminate at a landline or a mobile phone, you have to pay a nominal amount. Besides this, you can send pictures and other files as well to all your contacts while you’re on the go. With cameras on phones becoming more sophisticated and feature-rich, this is a great way to share pictures of places and people with your loved ones (once you try it, you get hooked to this instant sharing thing if my experience is anything to go by).

Most IM chat clients for your phone are free, and unless you sign up for services that enable you to call telephone numbers, you pay only for your GPRS data plan from your mobile service provider (with WiFi, you eliminate even this cost). A great way to stay in touch, wouldn’t you agree?

By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Shannon Wills, she writes on the topic of Internet Provider . She welcomes your comments at her email id: shannonwills23@gmail.com.

Posted under E-Mail, Online Marketing, Tech2.0

This post was written by Susan White on June 30, 2010

Featured in HP Newsletter: Free Website Essentials 101

I recently started web design/online marketing agency First Time Online, LLC. Our 1st motto is It’s Time to Get Online. Assuming that you’ve arrived at that same conclusion refer to our 2nd motto, It Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive In Order To Be Effective. Once you’ve made the decision to create a website, there are essential tasks that will define the overall success of your site. The best part is most of those things can be done for free!

The only reason this article exists is because of another article I wrote for HP back in January (Using WordPress To Grow Your Business). Interestingly enough, I received great visitor feedback which ultimately led me to start First Time Online, LLC. Based on popular demand, I was approached to write another article for their newsletter (which has a distribution of about 80,000+). You can also check it out on the HP Logoworks Small Business site,“Free Website Essentials 101?.

GETTING STARTED

Before you build a site, you need to register a domain name (i.e. www.MyBusiness.com) which also means the use of a personalized e-mail address. I would suggest using GoDaddy.com. It’s a tough economy which means “Coupons” and “Promo Codes” are 100% necessary. It’s easy to find coupon codes that will save you money. I found a pretty good list on FatWallet.com. Half the codes go inactive very quickly, but the forum is constantly being updated. Once you have a website name, you need to consider hosting your site securely. GoDaddy provides those services, but if you want to get a better deal I would suggest the use Blue Host, as they are affordable and you get a free domain name when you sign up with them. The key here is saving money and nothing is better than free.

SEARCH ENGINE FRIENDLY FORMAT

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the amount and quality of traffic to your site from organic searches within search engines. There’s no cost to get listed naturally in Google, Yahoo and MSN…your job is to try and rank correctly for any given search. For example, if you sell Shoes online, then when someone searches for Shoes in Google, your website would hopefully pop-up. In order for search engines to do this, they use crawlers to find pages to feed out as search results. If those crawlers have a hard time reading your websites code, then your chances of getting listed are decreased. There are free tools out there to help you optimize your website and I would highly suggest the use of Google Webmaster as a starter. I can’t stress this enough so I’ll repeat it one more time: Without good SEO, you’ll have to pay for people to find you. Your chance of selling a product to someone who is looking for you is higher than someone who is not.

UNDERSTAND YOUR TRAFFIC

Without a question, analytics is the double-edged sword of Online Marketing. The information you can collect about your visitors is extremely valuable, but the amount of information can be overwhelming. Set a benchmark for yourself and use analytics software to help define whether or not you’re reaching pre-assigned goals. Google Analytics has an internal feature to help track visitors and goal reaching. By understanding such things as, source of traffic and content-overview, you’ll be able to help your site evolve into a stronger source of business…and again, this software free.

BE CONTACT FRIENDLY

A business without a website is like an individual without a cell phone, they’re impossible to reach. If you’re a business with a website, then you should be very easy to reach. Unfortunately, that’s not always the cases. In order to increase visibility, a company should register for local listings on the major search engines. For Google, go to www.google.com/local/add and for Yahoo!, check out http://listings.local.yahoo.com/. When an individual searches for your company, your contact information will come up in the search, making it easier for them to reach you.

On another related topic, a few of my clients have expressed the fear of “e-mail spam” and have refused to lend out their contact information. There’s a very easy way around this: A “Contact-Us” page with a contact form and spam protection methods including a visual based key code that must be entered in order to send. Ask your web developer to put something like this together for you, or refer to free contact form services such as FreeContactForm.com. (Notice how it’s FREE!)

REMEMBER: EFFECTIVE ISN’T EPENSIVE

It doesn’t have to expensive in order to be effective. Your main objective is to stay focused on your goals, which by now, you should have an idea of what they are. If you’re trying to sell a product, then your goal is to direct traffic as far down the purchase process as possible. If you’re selling a service, then your goal is to get visitors to contact you. Want examples of what I mean? Take a look at Craigslist. The site serves over twenty billion page views per month, putting it in 28th place overall among web sites world-wide, and analysts value the site to be worth over $150 million. The best part is…their interface is simplistic and commonly referred to as “ugly”, BUT it’s effective.

SIMPLE METHODS TO INCREASE TRAFFIC

If you’re looking to bump up your traffic, then consider adopting some of the following trends: Company Newsletters, Blogging, Social Networking, Videos on your website and finding sponsors to host local events. Your goal is to create buzz, drive traffic and create loyal customers.

If you manage to do all of this, there’s no doubt that success will follow. Somehow “free” just smells, looks and tastes better!

Posted under Blogs, E-Mail, Online Marketing, Online Video, SEO/SEM, Social Networks, Viral Marketing

This post was written by Joshua Russak on June 16, 2009

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Internet Marketing 101: Stages of Customer Engagement

online-marketing-pyramid

Introduction to SEO/PPC, Banner Ads, E-Mail, Social Media (Web2.0) & Analytics

New to the online space? Not sure where to start marketing your business, or even how? Well that’s okay…because you’re not alone. This article is geared towards small business new to online space, bringing them up to speed on what’s out there and how they can take full advantage everything .

Unlike traditional marketing, the internet broadens the reach between businesses and consumers. Lower costs, mass distribution and instant responses are but a few benefits to taking your campaigns online. The beauty of the internet is that it provides many unique ways of capturing your audience by tying together both the creative and technical aspects of design and development. Below you will find a basic introduction to the many forms Online Marketing and what you should take advantage of. If you’re business is not online, you should look into testing some of the practices introduced below. For those of you familiar with the online space, consider this a refresher.

SETTINGS GOALS

Online marketing takes goal setting very seriously. Without a goal, how can you measure success? There’s so much information you can collect about your website users: Hits, Clicks, Views, Purchases, etc…but which of those are most important to you must be defined before you begin a campaign. For example, let’s assume you’re trying to sell shoes. If your site generates 1,000 hits a day, and you didn’t sell a shoe, then you weren’t successful. Now, let’s assume your website is an online newspaper and your goal is to get readers. In that case, a 1,000 hits a day is a great thing. Everything is relative. Set your goals early on so as to not get distracted.

SEARCH ENGINE MARKETING (SEM)

As the internet became more popular in the 90’s, search engines were created to help individuals locate information more efficiently on the internet. Considering the amount of new information published daily, search engines were relied more heavily upon in order to help direct traffic. Using “spiders” and “crawlers” sent into cyberspace, search engines were/are able to categorize websites and rank them. If you go to a search engine and type in “CAMERA”, what comes up is probably the most “relevant” result to that word. Unfortunately there are millions of sites competing to get to the top of that list. This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into play.  In what could be an entire article in itself, SEO is the process of improving the amount and quality of traffic to your site from organic searches within search engines. There’s no cost to get listed naturally in Google, Yahoo and MSN and your goal should be to rank high for any relevant searches. There are free tools out there to help you optimize your website and I would highly suggest using Google Webmaster as a starter.

Search Engine Optimization allows you to drive customers to your website simply by showing up in their searches.  However, there is another route you can take to drive traffic to your website, but you’ll have to pay for it.  Pay-Per-Click advertising was instituded by search engines to drive revenue on their sites. Businesses and individuals could sponsor links at the top of search results in order to increase the chance of someone clicking their link, and they would pay for every click. Yahoo! Search Marketing and Google AdWords are two popular examples of this type of marketing. This became the primary business model and source of income for search engines.

BANNER ADS

Another more traditional form of marketing is banner ads. Similar to driving down the freeway and passing oversized billboards, these ads are very visual and in-your-face. Located either at the top or on the sides of websites (aka: Skyscraper Ads), these ads follow both Pay-Per-Click and the more traditional Pay-Per-View models. With the advances in online technologies, these ads have been increasing the way audiences interact with them. For those of you who have seen the “click the monkey to win a FREE I-POD”, you know exactly what I mean. Not every banner ad is interactive, but there are many variations and the options are nearly endless.

E-MAIL MARKETING

If you are considering direct-marketing or have experience using snail-mail in some form, E-mail marketing is the electronic approach. Companies can benefit from e-mail marketing in many different ways:

  • Low Cost- 1,000 e-mails costs a lot cheaper than 1,000 envelopes+stamps+paper
  • Fast- Will arrive in their inbox within 30 seconds, depending on the service
  • Mass Distribution- Global Reach
  • ROI Tracking- You can track successful delivery’s, who opened the e-mails and what links they clicked
  • “It’s Eco-Friendly- No trees will be harmed in spreading your message (as with this post!)” – Sam Shron, Acxiom Digital.

Considering most internet users check or send e-mails every single day, this is a highly effective form of reaching mass audience effectively. BEWARE!! This form of marketing is also highly controversial and must be done the right way or not at all. Please refer over to the CAN SPAM ACT OF 2003. The list of requirements are very specific including an unsubscribe button, who you send it to, how you send it and more. As a result, many businesses use Agency’s to handle their e-mail marketing efforts.

SOCIAL MEDIA (WEB2.0)

The popularity of social media created an entirely new type of effective marketing that has been increasingly growing stronger year by year. Why? Well, for one, considering the amount of personal information that users put online, advertisers are able to better understand who they’re advertising to and what is more likely to be effective. Within social media, you’ll find a vast amount of options:

Your campaign can go from zero to hero all because one individual liked the ad and sent it to all of his friends. Just take a look at the recent Susan Boyle video which has gained global success, with over 145,000,000+ views online. The video was featured on blogs and social networks and it was all FREE marketing. That’s the power of the internet and Social Media. But it doesn’t stop there. You can use the social networks to interact with potential customers and gain insights unlike ever before. I highly suggest you research this type of marketing and get involved any way you can. Your efforts will be pay off and the results could be endless!

ANALYTICS

As I stressed in my last article for HP, Free Website Essentials 101: The information you can collect about your visitors is extremely valuable. The only downside is the amount of information can be overwhelming. Without a question, analytics is the double-edged sword of Online Marketing. Set a benchmark for yourself and use analytics software to help define whether or not you’re reaching pre-assigned goals. Google Analytics has an internal feature to help track visitors and goal reaching. By understanding such things as, source of traffic and content-overview, you’ll be able to help your site evolve into a stronger source of business…and again, this software free, so there’s no reason to pass it up.

Posted under Blogs, E-Mail, Online Marketing, Online Video, SEO/SEM, Social Networks, Tech2.0, Viral Marketing

This post was written by Joshua Russak on May 28, 2009

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Seth Godin says “Internet is Almost Full!”

For all of you who don’t know Seth Godin….IT’S ABOUT TIME! He was founder and CEO of Yoyodyne, the industry’s leading interactive direct marketing company, which Yahoo! acquired in late 1998. He is also a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change. Godin is author of ten books that have been bestsellers around the world. He also has a very successful blog under his own name, Seth’s Blog.

The reason I’m talking about him is because he made a fantastic blog post. I really can’t summarize, or state it even remotely as he put it himself. The issue is that by quoting him, I am going against everything his article stands for. Read it and you’ll see what I mean…(I almost feel guilty):

Warning: The internet is almost full

Due to the extraordinary explosion in video, blogs, news feeds and social network postings, the internet is dangerously close to running out of room.

Nothing can grow forever, and exponential growth is always short lived. We’re running out of disk space, so if you have something left to say, better hurry. Once it’s full, it’s full.

Of course, the decentralized nature of the net means that it will never be physically full. As long as we can keep making hard drives, we won’t run out of space to store those inane videos of your Aunt Sally. What is full is our attention.

Ten years ago, you had a shot of at least being aware of everything that mattered. Five years ago, you had to be really selective about what you took in, but at least it was possible to know what you didn’t know. Today, it’s impossible. Today, you can’t even read every article on a thin slice of a thin topic.

You can’t keep up with the status of your friends on the social networks. No way. You can’t read every important blog… you can’t even read all the blogs that tell you what the important blogs are saying.

Used to be, you could finish reading your email, hit “check email” and nothing new would show up. Now, of course, the new mail is probably a longer list than the mail you just finished processing.

…now you understand why I feel guilty? I’m just adding to the clutter. But here’s where I think he went wrong (man oh man, I hope Seth doesn’t see this). “See A Need! Fill A Need” is largely the reason new sites pop up every day. If there’s a need, why shouldn’t it be there? The major issue is when one company feels they can “do-it-better” than the other. That is when you see 1,000’s of social networks, similar blogs, etc. popping up.

Seth also didn’t include a solution and in my originaly blog post, I had one…but it was horrible so I took it out. I’m hoping Seth see’s this and offers a solution of his own. “Seth, if you’re out there in cyber-space, HELP! How can we stop this epidemic?”

…now I sit and wait.

Posted under Blogs, E-Mail, Social Networks

This post was written by Joshua Russak on December 10, 2008

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When Gmail Customizes Their Themes, You Better Blog About It!

I learned something new about Blogging today. I made a mistake and must learn from it. Learn from my mistake: I didn’t think to blog about “Gmail Customizable Themes” when I was given access before anyone else yesterday. I called a few friends and they all responded “How can I get it? How did you get it?” I should have know that things like that are extremely valuable in the blogging world. Just check out TechCrunch’s article Gmail Themes. That’s Totally Ninja. They openly said “Thanks for the tip Dan” to a guy who sent in a screen-shot. I bet Dan is getting huge amount of traffic for being providing TechCrunch with that tip. Hats off to you Dan!

So what did I learn about Blogging today? When something new, innovative and long awaited comes out and you’re only one of a few with access…BLOG ABOUT IT! There ya go. Learn from this event. Now for your viewing pleasure, check out my theme’s screen-shot below. I decided to go with the “Shiny” Theme:

Posted under E-Mail

This post was written by Joshua Russak on November 20, 2008

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