Smartphone’s: Can you live without it?

Mobile phones capable of face-time video chatting, Internet browsing, social network status updating and sharing are arguable the years hottest accessory. Smartphone’s allow us to stay updated and in-touch with our friends, family and business engagements in a content rich fast-pace environment that is our World. Location based mobile search changes the way we seek information, making it easier to find the things we need, when we want, from wherever we are. A Mashable article describes the relationship between human and Smartphone as addictive, reporting that, “37% of adults and 60% of teens admit they are addicted.”

CrackBerry.com

The Smartphone has integrated itself into every aspect of our lives, evolving the way we conduct business and socialize with others. The development of sleek applications that support and maybe even encourage questionable social media habits make web browsing easier. There are mobile applications for just about everything, and we can get information about anything from just about anywhere. Technology is evolving and we are evolving with it, adapting our communication, research and sharing habits. Is it really that big of an issue? Only time will tell, but until then mobile phones will continue to improve and influence our daily habits and lifestyle.

Mashable: Are Smartphone’s Taking Over Our Lives? [Study]

Facebook and Twitter Additction OK

In high school and early years of college my Facebook addiction appeared to distract me from what many others thought I “should” be focusing on. As I got older my Facebook addiction led to a fascination with Twitter and other forms of social media. Suddenly I was studying social media and digital public relations strategies in school. Within three years my degree in public relations went from cool to awesome. I was taking innovative journalism classes tailored to social media strategies and search engine optimization and all things digital. Was this too good to be true? Can I really make a career out of this?

Photo: DirJournal.com

It turns out you can. And there is quite the demand for digital agencies and social media strategist as the digital revolution continues to grow according to The Detroit News article, Aging Nation, Technology Give Rise to Five Hot Jobs. There is real value in social and digital and more and more people are recognizing that. The job market is fierce and there is good news for college students. According to The Detroit News Article. “By 2018 a million new jobs expected to be created.”  I don’t know if fate or luck or destiny brought me to my current internship in the digital marketing field, but the future is looking nice for me and for the digital agency.

The Detroit News: Aging Nation, Technology Give Rise to Five Hot Jobs

Using My New Media Drivers License

It is already December, and I am having a very hard time believing that the end of the semester is already here!  What’s more, the end of the semester signifies the completion of my public relations M.A. program at Michigan State University’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences, and provides another exciting opportunity to wear a cap (which, by the way, have not become any more fashionable since my graduation from Albion College in 2009, or even from my high school graduation in 2005) and gown. As I look back on my program, one of the most prominent memories is my wonderful experience in the New Media Drivers License (NMDL) course, taught by Derek Mehraban, CEO of Michigan Internet marketing firm Ingenex, at Michigan State University.  This class, offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level, strives to teach and train students in digital marketing and new media. I easily deem it as one of the most beneficial classes of my graduate career, considering our lessons revolved around topics like social media monitoring, blogging for business, online video strategy, Google AdWords, blogger outreach and Google Tools, just to name a few.  And while I honestly enjoyed each topic of discussion, one of my favorite lessons was about search engine optimization or SEO.

With search engine optimization, certain words on an organization’s website, blog, or other form of online presence are discovered by search engines like Google, Yahoo!, Bing, (insert favorite search engine here). The premise behind SEO is making the most of a website by using links composed heavily of keywords, while constructing “search engine friendly” content on the page.  The primary goal of search engine optimization is to attract more traffic to a website, while increasing the page rank of that site on search engine pages.  David Meerman Scott provides a very worthwhile discussion about search engine optimization in his book (our class textbook) called The New Rules of Marketing and PR.

If I had to pick out one overarching lesson from our discussion of SEO in class and in the book, it would have to be that using really broad and general terms when developing “keywords” will never work to an organization’s advantage when it comes to search engine optimization.  When we are thinking of “keyword rich links” for a site, it is important to remember that a lot of the time when conducting a search online, consumers typically look up information by phrases based on the information they are looking for (for example, “New Media Class at Michigan State University”). Having key words that are unique and special to the organization will provide more of a chance for consumers to find just what (or who) they are looking for in an effective and efficient search.

Classes coming to an end, especially the New Media Drivers License course, is bittersweet.  But I can say with all confidence that I look forward to applying all of the very worthwhile concepts from NMDL into real life situations.  If you are a student interested in public relations, marketing, advertising, etc. or you are an individual looking to become a master of all things social media and digital marketing from a personal or business standpoint, I highly recommend that you get your New Media Drivers License!  You will not regret it!

WordPress Plugin: All In One SEO

During this fall internship, we’ve been devoting a lot of time and energy to search engine optimization (SEO) — both learning what it is and how to do it, and then putting that knowledge to use. Up to this point, businesses have provided SEO as a service to those hoping to bring traffic to their website. But now it seems that might become a thing of the past. Everything on the Internet is shifting towards keywords and tags. Soon that will be the model upon which the Internet is navigated. So then one might ask, “Is there a way to automatically generate keywords based on a site’s content?” And it turns out that such methods are being developed today.

The first one I found is particularly applicable for bloggers such as myself. It’s a WordPress plugin called All In One SEO, developed by Semper Fi Web Design. I came across it last week as I was searching their plugin database for helpful tools. Out of 279 user reviews, it has an average rating of about 4 out of 5. But what exactly does the plugin claim to do? As stated on the WordPress page, the plugin should optimize your blog for search engines, generate META tags, avoid duplicate content, and more. The plugin claims to work “out of the box” for WordPress 2.3, with no fiddling necessary (Unfortunately we’re on to WordPress 2.6.2). They also say you can override META tags and specify most settings.

That all sounds great, but is there more to the story? As far as I can tell, there’s no way to confirm that the plugin is actually doing what it’s supposed to do. Time for some more research, and more writing about Digital Marketing on my own blog.

The Real (Digital) World

As a current student at Michigan State University, one subject of intense interest to myself and my fellow students is graduation, and how to prepare for it. Taking those first steps from university to the real world can be intimidating, and many current students are unsure of how to make a smooth transition from co-ed to corporate. How can current college students take charge of their digital personas and put them to work for themselves?

My first piece of advice would be to Google yourself, and look carefully at the results. They might display one of several things:

  1. That article you wrote for the high school paper
  2. Pictures of you from last year’s spring break in Cancun
  3. Nothing at all.

Whatever comes up about you, don’t despair – while high school accomplishments aren’t bad, they aren’t really current and don’t display all of the hard work you’ve been (hopefully) doing in college. While certainly great keepsakes, your spring break pictures don’t really convey a sense of professionalism. If you’re not coming up in search results, maybe you’ve kept a low profile, but isn’t it better to be proactive rather than reactive?

Is this what you want employers to remember about you?

Is this what you want employers to remember about you?

Take charge of your search results! Make a great impression when employers are looking to learn more about you, instead of keeping them in the dark about what a great candidate you would be for that newly-available position. To do this, create some professional profiles for yourself on sites like LinkedIn, Naymz, ZoomInfo, and AboutUs. Make sure that the information you offer up in these profiles is professional and highlights the skills that will help you find the job you want. The Washington Post offers some tips on what to include or keep private on your LinkedIn profile that can be applied to other social media sites.

Part of making the most of your online reputation is keeping some things out of the public eye – for those profiles that are more social than professional, you may want to restrict your privacy settings to make yourself invisible in search results. Facebook offers an option to take yourself out of search engine results, found in the Privacy Settings tab. If you’re proud of your Facebook profile, and think that it passes professional muster, you can also use this feature to create a public search listing for yourself – just make sure your profile isn’t going to keep employers from hiring you.

We’ve all heard about how your digital identity can work against you, but by showcasing your great features in a professional way, you too can feel confident with your online reputation. Social networking doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon, so you might as well make sure that your online image makes an excellent impression.

In today’s working world, employers are starting to embrace social networking as a time-saving, financially savvy way to keep their employees connected, according to USA Today, and as a college student or recent grad you will almost be expected to be a social networking guru. Make sure that you exceed the expectations and enhance both your digital and professional reputations.

Eco-Savvy Marketing in Ann Arbor: The Google Experiment

If you’re anything like me, anytime you find yourself uncertain about anything, you simply open your browser and ‘Google it.’ I do this literally dozens of times a day (I know, I know…) but until fairly recently had little awareness that I could actually have an influence on what results show at the top of the page. Enter the “Google Experiment.” Creating a more easily searchable online presence is one of Ingenex‘s many specialties. So, one of our assignments for this week was to pick several search terms, weave them into the title and body of our personal blog entries, cross-link everyone’s keywords to our blogs, and watch our chosen terms rise on Google’s search rank. We took two screen shots of our Googled our words pre-blog and post-blog to demonstrate the efficiency that cross linking blogs and blog entries can have. As I am interested in the environmental side of digital marketing, my chosen search keywords were Eco-Savvy Marketing Ann Arbor

 

 

Eco-Savvy Marketing Ann Arbor Before Picture

Eco-Savvy Marketing Ann Arbor Before Picture

Eco-Savvy Marketing Ann Arbor After Picture

As you can see, this experiment proved to be quite successful for my search terms. The rest of the Ingenex team’s blog entries and keywords proved to be similarly successful. Derek wrote on Digital Marketing Education, Pedro chose Experimental Marketing Michigan, Amanda did Marketing an Eco-Friendly Expansion, Nick chose Online Publishing Marketing, and Jennifer worked on Digital Eco Fusion. For more insights regarding keyword and search engine optimization, I suggest you check out their blog posts. Although my personal blog entry was not the first result, it was in the top four. Prior to my blog entry and my fellow interns cross-links, there was no one such thing as ‘eco-savvy marketing in Ann Arbor;’ rather it was a mishmash of vaguely relevant isolated words. Hopefully, after Derek and all interns have posted their weekly eco-friendly blog entry detailing their keywords and linking back to mine, I will see an even higher rank for ‘Eco-Savvy Marketing Ann Arbor’ on Google. This phenomenon, or keyword optimization as the digital pros call it, is extremely important when trying to digitally publicize a product, blog, person or website. Therefore, one’s keyword choice is something that deserves a special degree of thoughtfulness regarding the desired outcomes. As you could imagine, it is important to have several words that are more common and popular. However, if all of your keywords are fairly commonplace, it will be quite difficult for Google to return your desired page with a high rank, as these words are competitive and used frequently on many pages. If in 2-3 words you can carefully describe what it is offered on your site, then you are far more likely to achieve successful results. In the blogosphere, cross-linking to blogs using keywords can achieve similar results to running an online search. As our intern experiment proves, keyword optimization serves as a useful tool to spread the word about your product, blog or website. It can also be an effective tool for the consumer; I can’t tell you how many times I have chosen the higher ranked websites returned from my search. Keyword optimization will prove to be exceptionally useful, especially as we are actively expanding the eco-friendly internship across the midwest and using a variety of different types of media.

So until next time, keep Googling (thoughtfully, of course.)

Our Experimental Method

This week we set out to “own” a set of personalized keywords using search engine optimization. The goal was to try to get my blog to appear very high up in a Google search of certain keywords. I used the terms “Online Publishing Marketing” on my Digital Marketing Blog. I chose these terms because of my goal of combining web publishing (both journalism and creative writing) with digital marketing. I took a snapshot of the Google search at the beginning of the experiment, and set up a Google Alert for the three keywords. Then I blogged about it using the terms in the title, as well as the beginning and end of the blog post.

As you can see in the enlarged second image, the search terms “online publishing marketing” now bring up my WordPress blog tags fairly high in a Google search.

The other Eco-Friendly Interns and Ingenex CEO Derek Mehraban will be doing the same, and then cross-linking between our posts. Amanda Marandola posted on “Marketing an Eco-friendly Expansion.” Katie Hyzy posted on “Eco-Savvy Marketing Ann Arbor.” Pedro Martin posted on “Experimental Marketing Michigan.” Jennifer Harrison posted on “Digital Eco Fusion.” Derek Mehraban posted on “Digital Marketing Education.”