Eco-Friendly or just good marketing?

Is Apple the most Eco-Friendly company? At least, and according to a survey from Enviromental Leader, Apple is considered the most Eco-Friendly company for most consumers, closely followed by HP and Microsoft. But is this perception based on real facts, or is only due to Apple marketing strategy?

According to Greenpeace’s last “Guide to Greener Electronics”, in a 1 to 10 scale Apple’s score is only 4.1, ranking 13th on the list, far behind from the highest score company, the Finnish company Nokia.

Apple was just an example and it is a company that is currently improving in being more eco-friendly. Actually the last Ipod Nano is the most eco-friendly mp3 player that Apple had ever produced, reducing some of its more contaminant components like the batteries.

So how much of ecofriendlyness is real and how much is just pure marketing? Nowadays many products and companies claim to be “green”, but many times that is only a way of attracting the consumer and means nothing. In fact, about two thirds (66%) of the US citizens that participated in the Environmental Leader survey were willing to pay a certain premium (up to 5%) for a green product.

It is proven that in todays world eco-friendly and green products sell. However, if you care about this matter, do some research before buying a new laptop or a new cellphone. Maybe you will change your mind.

Getting business through social networking

A couple days ago I found an interesting discussion in Flickr. In the wedding photographers group some of the members were discussing about how to get business through social networks. The idea is simple, but effective: Post the pictures you take for a senior portraits session, engagement or a wedding on your Facebook and tag your customers. If your privacy options are set up so everyone can see those pictures, allow comments, and you will be the guy who took those cool senior portraits or those cute engagement shots, and that will surely bring you business.

The same idea applies to many different businesses. If you do a good job in whatever you do, you can probably ask that customer to left a recommendation for you on any of the social networking sites, or ask him to refer your site to other potential customers.

If you are writing a blog, write about what you have done for that customer and put pictures of up it if possible. Then let your customer know and he will surely show your blog entry to colleagues and friends, spreading the word about whatever service or product you do and how well you do it.

Word of mouth is proven to work well, and social networking is a powerful tool for keep spreading the word about your business.

Which are your keywords?

Last Wednesday the interns and Derek dedicated the day to analyze Google Adwords possibilities. Setting a Google Adwords account is really easy but getting the most out of it may not be so easy. The following recommendations will help you with setting up your account.

The first steps after signing up for your Google Adwords account is setting a monthly budget (of at least $50, anything under that does not really show at all) and determining where your ads are going to appear. If you are starting and your business is mostly local, it will probably be a good idea for you to keep your adwords campaign also local. Another option is to set the maximum cost per click (CPC). If your keywords are very competitive, you may want to set up a high maximum CPC. Otherwise Google can set your bids in order to optimize the results.

Make sure that you get the most of the 95 characters available per ad (25 for the title and 35 for each line). While writing your ad there are some considerations to keep in mind. The first one is how accurate is your ad. If a potential customer clicks in your ad, which reads “professional photographic equipment”, and you are only selling disposable cameras that person not only is not going to buy from you, but is also going to cost you money since he/she is clicking in your ad. It is very important that your ad include the benefits of your product and/or service and some of your keywords. You can find the keywords that relate to your site by using the Google Adwords tool. Once you do this, you can see the relevance and how competitive are these words, and choose according to your site content and budget. The best idea is to combine some competitive keywords with some other more specific to your site. Being specific will attract potential customers to your site. If you are local and you only offer your product/service locally you will most likely improve your results by including your location in your Adwords ad. Also do not forget to push your customer, including phrases like order now or limited supplies will make your ad more successful.

These are some very basic guidelines for starting your Adwords campaign. If you want to learn more about Adwords and how to use it in your business you should rely on experienced professionals and contact Ingenex Digital Marketing, I’m sure they will find the most suitable digital marketing solution for your business.

The rise of the electric car

After GM unveiled the Chevrolet Volt, there were some other manufacturers that wanted to join (and compete) for the electric car market. BMW with the future Mini E, Tesla with the Roadster, Smart with the Smart ForTwo Electric and Nissan with the yet to be confirmed Mixim (currently only a concept car) will be the first  electric cars competing for this new market, and I’m sure that not the last ones.

The impact of a growing market of electric cars will be beneficial for the environment. These cars will not contaminate with any kind of emissions and also will help to reduce the economic dependence that the United States have on oil, both foreign and domestic. According to the electric car impact study that is being developed by GM and other 30 companies, the Chevrolet Volt will require about 8 kilowatt-hours of energy to recharge its batteries, and that should be enough for getting about 40 miles on the road. So 8 kilowatt-hours of electricity that can be obtained by using renewable energies will save 2 to 3 gallons of gas. Also, the average price of the kilowatt-hour in the States is about ten cents, so recharging the Volt batteries would be under $1.

According to the Energy Information Administration, only 7% of the energy used in the USA comes from renewable sources, while 40% comes from Petroleum. If the car industry has learned from the errors of the past and the electric car becomes successful, this will probably a turning point for the use of renewable energies in America, and the progressive reduction of the oil dependence, which will make transportation more eco-friendly than it had never been before.

How to get the most of Twitter

Twitter is a great tool for networking, by using its 140 characters messages you can connect with many people around the globe that can be potentially interesting for your career or even your business. The following ones are some guidelines that will help you to get the most of each tweet:

  • Use every word to make an impact (you only have 140 characters, don’t waste them)
  • Use your real name or last name, your WoW name may be popular among the other dwarfs or orcs, but maybe not so well known for anyone else.
  • Link, link and link again to your site or blog.
  • Use tinyurl, this will allow you to introduce longer web addresses. Also try to use the custom URL option if possible.
  • Be selective with your contacts, you don’t need to be antisocial but there is no need to follow back everyone who adds you, especially if their profile pictures are kind of suspicious (half naked women, etc…).
  • Share anything you think is useful, it may be useful for others and it adds interest to your twitter account.
  • Pimp your twitter account.
  • Keep your profile update, link to your blog.
  • Interact with your followers, comment on their tweets.
  • Try to tweet everyday, don’t let people forget about you!

Hope this little advice help. I’ll see you on Twitter.

Boosting your online presence

You may not be aware of it, but the way you present yourself on the internet matters. It doesn’t matter if you are a recent graduate, a professional with years of experience or still a student, but dedicating a little attention to your online presence can boost your possibilities of promoting and getting a new job.

There are many social networking sites on the internet. Great tools for promoting yourself online are specialized sites like LinkedIn, which focus on professional networking, or Naymz, which focus on creating a reputational network of people that may potentially refer you. Other sites that you may want to check are AboutUs.org, where you can create a professional profile within your company one, and ZoomInfo, a professional directory where you want to have your profile.

The problem with online networking is not if you use it, but mainly the way you use it. The main difference between these specialized sites and your MySpace or Facebook account is that the specialized sites give you little option to include information that you do not want other people to find about, while MySpace and Facebook do. The main thing with these two sites is that you may be giving an image of yourself that may be cool and fun among your friends, but that is clearly inappropriate in a professional environment. Is not only that your employer (current or prospective, it does not matter) is going to Google you, but they may also look for your information in these social networking websites.

I found via Scott Monty’s The Social Media Blog that according to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, 80% of the employers Google you, and 20% of them is getting into the social networking sites to learn more about you. Their main areas of concern are the following:

  1. Information about alcohol or drug use (41% consider this a top concern)
  2. Inappropriate photos or information posted on a candidate’s page (40%)
  3. Poor communication skills (29%)
  4. Bad-mouthing of former employers or fellow employees (28%)
  5. Inaccurate qualifications (27%)
  6. Unprofessional screen names (22%)
  7. Notes showing links to criminal behavior (21%)
  8. Confidential information about past employers (19%)

In other words, and among many other things, you may not want to post pictures of the last time you got drunk (especially if you are underage), and you may consider changing your screen name from JoeSixPack to maybe your real name/last name.

Finally, just try to think that your online presence may be as valid as your real-world presence, and that no one is anonymous on the net anymore, so you want to make your online profiles look as good as possible

Experimental Marketing in Michigan

I wrote a post with this same title in my personal blog last weekend. The purpose of it was exclusively to prove that following some very easy instructions, we could make it to the top of the Google Search Results within days. So a little collective effort in tagging, categorizing, cross-linking and repeating certain terms in our posts has just been proved very successful. Now, when you google “Experimental Marketing Michigan”, the three words I choosed for my post, there are links to my post in the two first Google Search results and my post and my fellow interns’ posts are in that same first page of the search results.

I am certainly impressed with the results, especially when looking at the screen capture I made last Saturday right after I wrote my post. I look forward to tomorrow’s meeting at Ingenex for discussing the results with Derek and the rest of the interns.

Ann Arbor Bloggers: Andrew Miller – YourSearchAdvisor.com

The Author

For the last seven days I have been following Your Search Advisor’s corporate blog. The blog’s author, Andrew Miller, is the founder of Your Search Advisor, an Ann Arbor based company that offers SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services and is located, as Ingenex Digital Marketing, in the Brickyard. In addition to his entrepreneurial efforts with Your Search Advisor, Andrew is also the co-founder of RichmondWiki, a Wiki site about Richmond, VA, where he went to college at the University of Richmond, graduating with a double degree in Computer Science and Spanish.

The Blog

As an addition to corporate websites, corporate blogs have become a great tool for companies, not only to promote their business, but also to be closer to their customers. Andrew does both things very well, in his corporate blog; he has some very interesting SEO analysis, analyzes digital marketing news and trends, and also has time for some more personal posts. Examples of this are the different topics in his last posts, which are very broad; from the very recent challenges and opportunities of an in-house SEO to the Yahoo Mash failure, passing through the analysis of the current state of the mobile web or the more personal post of how his old laptop “went nuclear”.

I think Your Search Advisor’s blog is a very interesting and enjoyable read. It is not only entertaining and written using very clear language (you don’t have to be a digital marketing guru for understanding its articles), but also very informative about the latest digital marketing trends and SEO news. I will definitely be following this blog in the future, its feed has made it to my Google Reader and I look forward to reading the upcoming post on how to be a successful in-house SEO.

Eco-Friendly tips

In order to be eco-friendly, a company has to perform its activities in ways that would inflict the minimal possible harm to the environment. So what can Ingenex do in order to be more eco-friendly? Being in Michigan, where it is COLD during winter and hot and humid during the summer, energy conservation is one of the biggest issues. Also trying to reduce the waste produced by the office activity (paper, office supplies) would be a good idea. The following are some tips that will help you and your company be more eco-friendly:

  • Wherever there is a cold winter, and Michigan is especially cold, good insulation is essential. A properly insulated room facilitates temperature control, and  will make your heating bill less expensive and definitely more eco-friendly.

  • Encourage the use of public transportation and alternative commuting options. In the case of Ann Arbor, it is possible for a company to get a go!pass for its employees for only $5 a month. Ann Arbor is a bike friendly city, and also very pedestrian friendly. You can provide a bike lock for your employees, so they park their bikes. There is plenty of information about commuting opportunities in Ann Arbor at getDowntown.

  • Energy conservation is key. Energy efficient bulbs and motion sensor lighting controls are also a good idea and they will let you reduce your energy spending. By subscribing to programs like the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star Program you can save big money and also become more eco-friendly.

  • Telecommuting is an option that can make your company more eco-friendly by avoiding unnecessary commutes. For some employees it may not be necessary to go to the office for doing their job, so if it is not a need the transportation cost saved can be a great way of reducing the environmental impact of our already crowded roads.

  • The 3 R’s. Reduce – Reuse – Recycle is the way to go in the office. Again, you’ll benefit directly by reducing your costs in paper, office supplies, etc, while reducing the amount of waste your work produces and increasing your eco-friendliness. Make sure to check out Recycle Ann Arbor for great tips in how to recycle and in how to collaborate with your community, and don’t forget to bring your recyclables to the drop-off station.

Politics and Social Networking

Social Networking and politics are developing a strong relationship during this current presidential race. The use of social networking as a tool to get votes is not new; social networking sites were already used by the candidates in 2004, but they were not given the importance that they have now.

So what has changed? In the first place, social networking sites were not as popular as they are now. Also, the candidates were not so active in the social networking and their profiles were more an extension of their campaign websites. Facebook now has more than 100 million users, and the more professional focused network, LinkedIn, already counts 24 million users. Politicians are also realizing that they can also get votes through using these social networking sites, as they allow them to interact with potential voters and let them be perceived as someone closer than the candidate we only see on the news. Regarding this matter, Barack Obama has asked two questions using the Questions and Answers service of LinkedIn: “What ideas do you have to keep America competitive in the years ahead?” which already has 3,108 responses and “How can the next president better help small business and entrepreneurs thrive?” which at this time has 1,493 answers.

The Obama campaign has also launched my.barackobama.com, a social networking site similar to Facebook for Obama supporters, where you can connect with your friends, create events and even create your own blog.

In many senses the Obama campaign seems to be more connected with social networking and in my opinion is doing a better job than the McCain campaign. I was able to find Barack Obama on LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr, Myspace and Twitter. I was only able to find John McCain on LinkedIn, Facebook and Myspace.

I am not sure on how the social networking efforts of both candidates will be reflected in the elections results, but at this time, if we took Facebook as a reference, Barack Obama has 1,791,490 supporters, while John McCain has “only” 332,949 supporters. However, the main problem with these numbers is that the number of potential voters among these supporters is unknown, and if you look carefully you will notice many teenagers that are not able to vote yet and also many foreigners. If these results will have a reflection on the real elections, only time will tell.