Is There a 3-D Printer in your Future?

By Carl Weiss

Most of us that grew up watching Star Trek, (or many of its spin-offs) over the last few decades. I always marveled at the technological prowess that supposedly awaited mankind a
The original starship Enterprise
The original starship Enterprise (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 couple of centuries in the future.  Particularly if you were weaned on the original Star Trek series that ran from 1966-69.  The wonders portrayed on the Starship Enterprise were beyond belief.  Remember, this sci-fi series was televised back in the days before man had walked on the moon.  Computers back then were huge devices that occupied entire rooms, required special cooling systems and telephones were something akin to a can on a string. Virtually every phone on the planet at that point in time was hardwired.  So the thought that wireless communicators, talking computers, shuttlecraft, phasers, replicators and teleportation was a couple of hundred years in our technological future, was not so far fetched back then.

That was Then, This is Now!
Fast forward forty four years.  By the year 2013, more than three quarters of the population of planet earth has a wireless communicator (cell phone).  Many Smartphones come equipped with a talking computer (Siri). Microsoft Windows has built in voice recognition.  The shuttlecraft concept has come and gone after NASA decided to mothball its fleet of Space Shuttles.  Fear not Trekkies, because at least two private space contractors are designing the next generation of space shuttle in order to carry paying customers into the stratosphere and possibly even into low earth orbit. Also NASA and the ESA are working on reusable space crafts of their own.  While the cop on the beat isn’t currently carrying a phaser, he or she comes equipped with a Taser.  The US Navy has recently unveiled LaWS, the Laser Weapons System, which is a high-powered ship mounted laser canon that is designed to disable a boat or shoot down hostile aircraft.

Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jonathan Greenert praised the LaWS ability to take out targets at a fraction of the cost of other conventional weapons.  He claimed that the LaWS can shoot down a drone for about $1 worth of electricity and predicts that it should be able to replace Gatling guns whose rounds can cost several thousand dollars each.
3D printer
3D printer (Photo credit: Indiana Public Media)

This brings us to the ubiquitous replicator, the one device that no Starfleet captain would dare leave the planet without.  With it, a spacefaring crew has at its disposal a manufacturing plant capable of turning out hardware, textiles and even food.  Who needs to do the laundry when you can replicate a new outfit at the push of a button?  Who needs to cook when you can summon a machine to replicate any dish or beverage that you can describe.  Face it, of all the technologies demonstrated on Star Trek, this one could be the biggest game changer of them all if only it were possible.

The Real Game Changer! 

Guess what Trekies?  The replicator is alive and well and coming to a store near you.  Ever heard of 3D printers?  Of course you have.  These aren’t your grandpa’s printer, only capable of putting ink to paper.  These babies are able to print three dimensional objects, one layer at a time.  While the technology isn’t exactly new, what has changed recently are both what these printers can make, as well as how low their prices have become. I have seen several models liste
Casing for MakerBot Replicator 1
Casing for MakerBot Replicator 1 (Photo credit: Creative Tools)
d on starting as low as $469 for a kit! Most models come in at between $1000 and $2000 but the price is falling and will soon plummet when several patients expire in 2014.

A recent study by Michigan Technological University predicted that 3D printers would soon be in every home, because of the fact that it’s cheaper to make many things yourself on a 3D printer than it is to buy them from a store.

“3D printers deposit multiple layers of plastic or other materials to make almost anything, from toys to tools to kitchen gadgets. Free designs that direct the printers are available from the tens of thousands on websites like Thingiverse. Visitors can download designs to make their own products using open-source 3D printers, like the RepRap, which you build yourself from printed parts, or those that come in a box ready to print, from companies like Type-A Machines.”

Recently Kickstarter has funded several 3D printer startups geared toward home and classroom use.  One startup has come up with a portable 3D printer called Bukito that has a price tag of only $600.  Other companies such as Afinia offer high quality homebased 3D printers starting at just $1,599.  Rival 3D Systems Inc. launched two consumer-oriented models this year, the Cube ($1,299) and the CubeX ($2,499 and up). However, price is only one aspect of why many people will soon acquire this revolutionary technology.  The other consideration is what these babies are capable of creating.

What Can We Make?

2010-12-24 - Creative Tools - Halmstad - Samma...
2010-12-24 - Creative Tools - Halmstad - Sammanställningsbild av ZPrinter 3D-utskrifter (Photo credit: Creative Tools)
To date, everything from toys to tools to prosthetics to food can and have been replicated using this technology.  To spawn the proliferation of the technology, a number of organizations hav
e spawned contests that encourage interested parties to submit designs for 3D printed creations.  One recent contest by the IDSA asks contestants to submit designs for a 3D printed car. 

“The Industrial Designers Society of America is tapping into the booming interest in additive manufacturing, more widely known as 3-D printing, to spice up its Aug. 21-24 conference in Chicago. IDSA has issued a challenge for interested parties to design a 3-D-printed car to launch down a ski-slope track at the conference. To enter, one needs to, in the association's words, "design the most awesome car (using our supplied wheels and axle)," and send the resulting 3-D model files created in the STEP (Standard for the Exchange of Product Data) file format to Zach Kaplan ( at Inventables by Aug. 12.

IDSA's judges will select 10 best designs before the conference, based on two criteria: using unique attributes of 3-D printing; and aesthetics (beauty, fun, thematic). The association then will 3-D print the 10 designs and have them ready for launch on Aug. 24 at the conference.
The winner will receive his or her own 3-D printer. Runners-up receive a $100 gift card to use on IDSA said it will base the prizes on on three criteria: best flight (distance/style); most spectacular crash; and best aesthetics. It also plans to videotape the launches so it can post them later on YouTube.”

With technology like that becoming available, how long will it be before the term “Beamer Up” can be applied to printing yourself your next BMW?  That doesn't mean that only engineers can own and operate a 3D printer.  Just like personal computers and Smartphones, there is already an entire industry that is being built around off-the-shelf software used to help 3D printing neophytes get off the ground.

A recent article from the LA Times postulated that, For those who are less tech savvy, there are new Smartphone apps that streamline the process of crafting or altering a design. Online markets have also popped up in which shoppers can customize and order 3-D-printed clothing, to
ys, gadget accessories and other products.

Industry experts say 3-D printing could revolutionize traditional manufacturing, much as the Internet upended the music industry, and fundamentally alter how consumers shop and how much they pay. Some tech companies are already foreseeing a day when every home contains a 3-D printer churning out custom furniture and clothes, or a Kinko's-esque store in every neighborhood where items can be manufactured on demand via printers.”

The Industry will Explode with Growth when the 2014 Patents run out!

This industry is growing in leaps and bounds.  In 2012 the amount of money spent in the US on 3D printing was $1.2 billion.  With a number of key patents set to expire in 2014, it is estimated that by 2020 the industry will gross more thann$21 billion. While the technology still isn’t exactl
y mainstream, there are a number of key players who are either using or are considering 
English: A stylized delta shield, based on the...
English: A stylized delta shield, based on the Star Trek logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
the technology.  One of them is NASA.  The space agency sees 3d printing as a way of replicating parts, providing astronauts with a more varied diet and eventually even assembling entire spacecraft in orbit.  The agency recently tested the technology in microgravity aboard their flying zero-g 727 aircraft nicknamed the Vomit Comet.

“There have been a lot of near misses in the past with spaceflight,” says Jason Dunn, co-founder of Made in Space, a company that aims to put an end to such jerry-rigged repairs with the next frontier of digitised DIY: 3D-printing in space. “When we start going out to Mars and back to the moon and going to asteroids, it’s going to be even more important that astronauts have printers with them.”

It won't be long before large computer companies like HP, Epson, SAMSUNG and Apple jump on this bandwagon. Heck, HP and Epson make printers, it will be a normal progression for them to adopt and help proliferate this technology.  The fact that so many grass root groups have cropped up and that large databases with finished design plans already exist, make it easier for newcomers to adopt this game changing technology.

While most of us don’t have to worry about the effects of weightlessness, the wait for this technology to become an everyday reality is here.  Star Trek fans have a lot more to be excited about than you might think. Heck, even if you're not a Trekie, you will benefit from this game changing technology.  All this writer can say is, “Warp speed, Scotty!”

If you enjoyed this article, pass it along to your friends. If you have a comment or something to add, enter it in the comment section, so we can share it with our readers. If you would like to know more about Carl or W Squared Media Group, write us at the email address listed on this blog or call us 904-410-2091. It has been my pleasure sharing my thoughts with you

Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group, a Jacksonville, Florida based digital marketing agency that specializes in keeping client websites at warp speed.  Carl also co-hosts the popular radio show Working the Web to Win every Tuesday at 4 m Eastern.

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How to Score Points Online Without Working Up a Sweat

by Carl Weiss

Working the web is no game for wimps.  It takes guts, determination and staying power to play the game to win.  More importantly it takes organization.  As I pointed out in my blog two weeks back, Google has become the 800-lb gorilla in the room, having amassed more than 80% of search.  With that kind of clout Google not only rules the roost, it pretty much calls the shots.  In order to have any kind of chance of generating page one results on Google, you need to feed the monkey.  Google's ranking system takes everything from on-page SEO, to backlinks, blogs, social posts and videos into the equation.  Their spiders have become sophisticated enough to read/ rank blogs and social posts not only for completion, but for depth as well.  The spiders can tell how often you post, how well-crafted the post is and how relevant it is to the keywords you desire.  If you post a blog once a week or once in a blue moon, the spiders know and react accordingly.  If you don't link your social sites to your website, they know that too.  If you link your social nets to your site but rarely feed them, the spiders will penalize your ranking appropriately.

Who's on First?

For most business owners this means either hiring a full-time employee or outsourcing the task.  They simply 
Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase
don't have the time to write a blog a week and feed the social nets daily.  The bad news is that even this is only the tip of the SEO iceberg.  Google says it analyzes 182 different ranking criteria in order to determine ranking. While they won't actually come out and tell you what they are, the good news is that with a bit of deductive reasoning you can infer many of the most important. 

Generating ranking today comes down to an online popularity contest.  While backlinks are still one indicator of popularity that are ranked by most every search engine, there are a number of recent developments of which you may not be aware.  For instance, online reputation is currently all the rage.  In fact there are hundreds of online portals that are designed to monitor and publicize both good and bad corporate behavior.  Even more important is the fact that Google Local encourages business owners and their customers to post reviews and ratings.  If you aren't cognizant of your online reputation, you run the risk of being relegated to the backwaters of the web.

This is not a game most businesses can afford to lose.  Consider if you will the facts as of 2012:
·         More than ¾ of the world population was online.
English: World map showing coutries with at le...
·         The US audience alone topped 239 million users.
·         Mobile users in the US topped 139 million.
·         There were 106.7 million smartphone users in the US.
·         Some 72.8 million shoppers made purchases using mobile phones and tablets.
·         83.9% of those made at least 1 online purchase.
·         Holiday ecommerce sales were 42.3 billion

Who's Listening

Even if you do take the time to post blogs, social posts, videos, reviews and ratings this means little if you are preaching to the choir.  To give you an idea of where I am coming from, go to your blog and look at your stats.  On average, how many people are reading your posts?  More importantly, how many people are commenting and/or reposting your posts?  Even the best prose will not get Google's attention if nobody is listening.  Unless your posts generate interest the search engine spiders regard them as billboards in the desert.  That doesn't mean that there aren't ways to correct this problem.  It simply takes a team.

Nearly a year and a half ago my partner and I realized that the search engines were putting a premium on such thing as +1's, comments and reposts.  After scouring the web for companies that offered this kind of service (without any success), we realized that there was a simple way to achieve the desired effect.  Thus was born the concept of Team Tech along with a service designed to organize and manage this service called  The way that team tech works is that everyone in the team is required to write a blog a week.  (For those who can not do this, we offer to outsource this service.)  Once the blog has been written, it is passed along to five members of the club who read it, comment on it and repost it to Twitter, Facebook and Google+.  In exchange, the blog writer does the same for the other members.  (It's kind of an I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine system.)  

What this does for members is several things:
1. It generates distribution, since your blog will be passed along to thousands of people via social                       networking.
2. It helps members satisfy their daily social networking duty, since by reposting a blog a day you will have         six days worth of content to broadcast.
3. The search engine spiders will notice that your blogs and social sites are generating more activity.  This will     increase your SEO score.

It Takes a Team

Like it or not, search engine marketing is a full contact sport.  The companies who can either afford to outsource these tasks or who put a high priority on accomplishing them will continue to dominate the 
World wide web
search engines.  If you want to get off the bench and get into the game you are going to have to create a team that can help you score on the field.  Especially in the beginning when it is tough to sustain the fight, you are going to have to coach and motivate your team to continue to fight for every yard.  Think of it this way, if you were going to play a game of football, would you want to hike the ball only to find out you are the only member of your team standing on the field, or would you like to have some blockers keeping the other team at bay?  If you're really looking to score points online without working up a sweat, it takes a team.

Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group, a Jacksonville, Florida company that is all about working the web to win.  You can hear Carl every Tuesday at 4 pm when he co-hosts Working the Web to Win on Blog Talk Radio.

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The Tweet Smell of Success

by Hector Cisneros

Don't know a twit from a tweet? Do you think Twitter is a waste of time? Or are you wondering why all the
Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...
Image via CrunchBase
 media outlets always seem to mention their Twitter accounts? If you don't understand twitter, then this article is for you! In this article I will discuss many of the benefits that Twitter has to offer any business. I will explain why you want to start using Twitter to help grow your business. On top of that, I will also provide links to articles chock full of useful techniques, tools, pitfalls to avoid and shortcuts you can employ to become a successful Twitter marketer.

Tweets Beat Feet

If you are looking to grow your followers in a hurry, Twitter is by far the easiest social network that can accomplish this goal.  In the first place,Twitter has a corporate culture that is reciprocal. By that I mean that people will follow you back if they believe you have similar interests or have something useful to offer. In many cases these followers are absolute strangers who follow you in order for you to follow them. This is in stark contrast to Facebook which is a much more closed garden where you have to be approved to become connected. On Twitter you can follow someone without them following you back. This makes it much easier to attract a large following on Twitter.

Twitter is No Twit

Tweets are search engine friendly. That means they show up in Google Search, where many other social 
Image representing Google Search as depicted i...
Image via CrunchBase
posts do not. Add to this the fact that Twitter allows for push marketing (messages lead readers to a specific URL) as well as  its innate ability to allow you to search for a highly targeted  audiences, and there is more to Twitter than just tweets. Once you start using Twitter you will soon discover that it allows a person to see what is trending (what most people were talking about). This feature allows you to search tweets to target peoples' interests based on what they are saying.  This is one sophisticated social network.

Once you’re a twitter member you can even use twitter search functions to peruse what other subscribers are saying.  This search function can be carried out based on any keyword you would like to include, such as name, location, subject, occupation, industry, tag line etc. This search function can literally be used to cover anything listed in the twitter subscriber's profile.  

In the past being able to know an audience’s demographic information (age, location, income etc.…) was a 
English: The content of tweets on Twitter, bas...
English: The content of tweets on Twitter, based on the data gathered by Pear Analytics in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
tremendous benefit for any advertiser. Social networking has advanced this technology by allowing subscribers to search  twitters subscribers psychographic information (personal likes, affiliations, hobbies, interest, favorite shows, books, artist  etc…)  This is extremely powerful and focused way to search for a targeted audience.  

Trick or Tweet?

Once you determine the audience you want to work, the next step is understanding what is and what is not of interest to your audience.  Social networks have a set of unspoken rules of engagement that every networker needs to understand and employ.  Breaching these rules can not only cause you to lose followers, but it can even in some cases cause you to lose your networking privileges.

#1.  It's all about them .  Trying to make it about you won't work unless you’re a celebrity! People don't join Twitter or any other social network except to fulfill something they want.  This usually means  their personal interests, their desired information, and their specific tastes in entertainment or groups they want to connect to. They did not join to see or hear about your advertisements.  If you want people to follow you, be interested in them, be engaging and provide value added useful content.

#2.  Use your grandmother's rules of etiquette to monitor your behavior. Be proactive (be first to help others) be nice, be thankful, be helpful and be courteous. Avoid being short, mean or vulgar. This is a very public and unforgiving  forum. It's extremely hard to take things back!

#3.  Be professional. Understand that people are learning who you are by what you say and how you're saying it. Double check your grammar and spelling. Avoid slang, acronyms, cursing, salacious and derogatory language.

#4.  Provide useful information to a focus targeted audience. Trying to please everyone or to  get everybody to follow you is a waste of time. Target people with mutual interests and constantly provide value added content to win their loyalty.

#5.  Post your information on a regular schedule. Do this preferable once a day at the same time each day . Every audience and interest group has a limit to how many posts they are willing to read each day. If your information is deemed useful, then you can post more often than once a day. Pick a regular time and block out a couple of hours minimum a week to research and make your posts. Make it a fixed calendar item.

#6.  Use tools and techniques' to leverage your time and efforts. Use tools that are approved by twitter. Using unapproved tools can cost you or get you suspended. This includes hash tags, URL shorteners, user management tools (like "")  and aggregating software like Hootsuite and Tweet Deck.  Also don't be afraid to post the same content to other social networks. This is part of creating leverage. You may have to provide some additional format changes but most of your work is already done, so take advantage of the time you have saved.

Below I have included a list of useful articles that can help you become a power user on Twitter.  While Twitter alone is not enough to ensure the growth of your business, learning how to successfully employ it can take your venture one step closer to the sweet smell of success.

Links to other articles and secrets.

Six Cardinal Rules for Success in Social Media Marketing

Six Simple Yet Powerful Rules That Help You Build Your Twitter Flock

Five Powerful Techniques That Attract Twitter Followers

Three Internet Marketing Techniques That Use Leverage To Produce Great Results

Four Principles That Use Leverage to Market Your Business and Produce Powerful Results

Six Clear Reasons why you should be using Social Media to build your Credibility

Trick or Tweet, The vulnerabilities inherent to Twitter and all Social Networks

 The Twelve Secrets of Social Media Success

Seven Secrets of Social Media Magnets

Making Social Media Work for Your Business

What the best Social Media site for a Small Business

Seven Valuable Benefits Social Networks Provide and Social Media Marketers Covet

Social Equity, Businesses use it, here’s how to get some

Social Media and Keeping Up with the Joneses (The Competition!)

How to win friends and influence people in the 21st Ccentury

How to Win Friends and Influence People in the 21st Century - Take Two

Success Secret for Social Media Connecting

Three Common Mistakes Business People Make When Using Social Media

Hector Cisneros is CIO of W Squared Media Group, a Jacksnville-Florida based company dedicated to helping clients succeed online.  You can also interface with Hector every Tuesday at 2 pm during his weekly broadcast of Working the Web to Win on Blog Talk Radio.
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How to Make Google Like You

by Carl Weiss

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase
What do you feed an 800-lb gorilla?  Anything he wants.  And if that 800-lb gorilla happens to be the world’s most popular search engine named Google, then boy are you going to need a ton of bananas.  Having worked the web since 1995, I can tell you that I have seen a lot of search engines come and go. (The recent closing of AltaVista being one highly publicized case in point.)  But to date none of them has been big and bad enough to more or less own the Internet.  Then along came Google.  Started in 1998 by Sergey Bryn and Larry Page, the search engine quickly gobbled up market share, particularly after going public in 2004.  Today, Google controls more than 81% of search worldwide.  So if you hope to make a splash online then you are going to have to come to terms with the King Kong of search engines.

He's BIG 

Back in the early days, many SEO experts routinely used to amass position by gaming the search engines.  By that, I mean that they used to routinely try to trick the search engine spiders into rating them highly by the use of underhanded tactics such as keyword stuffing and link farms and all other sorts of nefarious deeds.  However, over time, the spiders have gotten wise to such tactics and today the bots are sophisticated enough to detect most forms of cheating.  Sure, you might get away with gaming the system for a few days, weeks or even months, but catch up with you they will and then there will be hell to pay.  The same goes for any clients of firms who still try to cheat the system.  Those tarred with the same brush can not only expect to lose ranking, but they can wind up being blackballed or even delisted, which means that they will have to start from scratch.

He's Hungry

My advice to those who wish to thrive online is simply this: Give the gorilla what he wants.  Today that 
English: a chart to describe the search engine...
English: a chart to describe the search engine market (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
means content and lots of it.  Gone are the days when you could create a website once every few years and then walk away.  The face of Search Engine Optimization has changed as well.  Before the turn of the century, everything the spiders needed to rank a site was contained on the homepage.  That is no longer the case.  In fact, only 25% of the criteria used to rank a site today is on-site.  The other 75% is off-site.  It is composed of such things as blog posts and social posts, podcasts and videos.  Ranking today is determined by how well the content is crafted and how often it is posted.  That’s right, sports fans; the spiders have learned how to read.  They can tell the difference between an article-length blog and a tweet.  While they can’t comprehend video yet, they can judge such things as length, number of videos on a channel, how often they have been viewed, keywords and comments. 

Another thing about the big guy…He prefers his own brands.  That means if you are going to blog, you want to use Blogger, because Google owns Blogger.  If you want to post videos, then you want to post them on YouTube, because, you got it, Google owns YouTube.  And if you are into social networking, which is an SEO must these days, then you better not leave Google+ out of the mix.  Need I tell you why? 

He's Smart

More importantly, not only do the search engine spiders respect content, so do your prospects and customers.  While many businesspeople lament the fact that crafting weekly blogs, daily social posts and a couple of videos per month take a not insignificant amount of time in an otherwise busy schedule, all I can tell you is that from your audience’s perspective, this is time well spent.  Consumers today are information 
In ur flickr
In ur flickr (Photo credit: TaranRampersad)
junkies.  They prefer being shown as to being told.   They will spend more time checking you and your product line out online than ever before. Why not, since it has become so easy.  Reputation management has become big business do to the simple fact that companies can no longer hide slipshod practices, bloated prices and poor customer service.  Business review sites have sprung up like weeds touting scammers, spammers and take-it-on-the-lammers to anyone who cares to read.  The search engine spiders can also pick up on less than stellar reputations and will not only take appropriate action, they have also been known to hold a grudge.  This means that not only do you have to protect your reputation; in the digital age you are also forced to police your reputation as well.

So if you truly want to make the grade online, you need to take the time to provide quality content on a consistent basis that engages your audience and satisfies both the search engines and your audience.  This means providing multimedia offerings in the form of video and audio as well as the written word.  You also need to make sure your online reputation shines.  Last but not least you need to make the care and feeding of the 800-lb gorilla in the room a priority.  Because if you don’t provide the gorilla with bananas, then all you are likely to see online is goose eggs.  And they won’t help you fill the coffers.

Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group a Jacksonville, Florida firm that specializes in online marketing.  He also owns and operates Jacksonville Video Production.  You can also interface with Carl every Tuesday at 2pm on his Working the Web to Win radio show.
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The American Webolution

by Hector Cisneros

With the fourth of July rapidly approaching I thought I'd take some time to talk about how the World Wide Web has changed the face of advertising in this country forever more.  While advertising has evolved over the last 100 years, it wasn't until the advent of the internet that the way in which consumers deal with merchants fundamentally changed. The last 20 years have freed consumers from the trappings of time and space and has allowed them to take charge of what they see, read and consume. The internet has actually empowered consumers to take control of their consuming destiny and it has ushered in the era of consumer control over false advertising and poor customer service.

In the beginning there was media!

The beginning of the 20th century advertising was dominated by print, then radio, followed by TV, junk mail and telemarketing. The last 20 years has seen the rise of the internet as a daily use utility. Its capabilities have changed how we act, think, talk work and play. It has frustrated, overwhelmed, bombarded and forced us to learn new ways of interacting and finally, it has empowered consumers to take charge of how they are sold to.

What changed in the last 20 years?

The last 20 years follows a time that looks like this. The World Wide Web begins in 1993 soon followed by Internet Email and the first Banner Ads starting in 1994. Early models of pay per view and pay per click 
Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase
emerged after that, eventually evolving into Google's Adword's model in 2000. Mobile SMS also made their debut followed by POP Up ads in 2001 and blogging (with Adsense ads) in 2003. YouTube was purchased and promoted by Google in 2005; Facebook begins it trek to social media dominance that year also. Mobile Websites (with Adsense) take off in 2007 followed by Online Article (In-Text Ads) and LinkedIn (with on-page ads) in 2008. Mobile apps emerge (with ads) in 2009 followed by Twitter celebrity endorsement advertising in 2010 and Facebook Mobile and Native Advertising (ads that look like content) in 2012.

The collision of technologies elevates the value of time and choice!

During the last 20 years, the escalation of new knowledge, new technologies, instant access to news, various media content and the bombardment of internet related advertising has caused content overload. This has made the use of our time very precious. The advent of time shifting of broadcast media, our ability to preview solicitation via caller ID and email previewing along with anti-spam filtering have allowed us to make choices of how we use our time. The advent of social networking has allowed us to connect with friends, family and other like minded users in order to share our thoughts, likes and dislikes. Consumer choice and our new found ability to network and share our experiences have ushered in the story telling and sharing era that is empowering consumers. Now consumers have a powerful weapon against poor customer service, and can spread positive and negative recommendations so fast that it can turn a deceitful marketer's stomach.

What can an advertiser do to make consumers happy and please their vendors

So what is a business to do? How can they reach their target market and get their message out about their wonderful products or services? Well for one, advertisers need to start by telling the truth about their products or services. Gone are the days where an advertiser could use fluffy language, hyperbole or outright lies to sell their products. You can fool a few people today, but the truth now gets out so fast that inferior products and poor customer service are exposed quickly and the consuming public is not quick to forgive these transgressions. Second they can provide added value with their products. The internet allows vendors to provide many types of added value to their customer base. They can provide useful, interesting, and entertaining content via free eBooks, picture galleries, and additional meaningful information. They can provide inducements via discount coupons, exclusive offers, recognition and other creative value ad features that the internet can easily deliver. In other words give consumers what they want, including honesty, integrity and a good value for their money and you will not have any problem doing business online.

There is another piece to this puzzle and that is pleasing the people in charge of the internet. You know who I am talking about; Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, LinkedIn, and all the other big internet media players. 
English: www,domain,internet,web,net
English: www,domain,internet,web,net (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If you want to succeed online today you need to give these players what they want. Gone are the days that black hat tricks will put you on top of the search engines in thirty days or less.  The rules for success in social media are also a moving target, so tricks will only work for a short time here also. Today a marketer needs to learn, follow and keep up with an ever changing set of marketing rules just to get found.  So what are the rules of this marketing game? What are the guidelines to success? Is there a magic formula for getting results?

The magic formula for making consumers happy!

Here are a set of rules that when followed closely lead to marketing success.

      1.      You have to provide a useful product or service.  Hype will no longer sustain sales for very long.

      2.      Provide quality products and superior service to your clients. Clients talk about you whether you like it or not! Give them something good to say. Better yet ask them to say good things about you.

      3.      If you are marketing in search (who isn't) you need to give Google what it wants. Google feels that people want quality, truthful and accurate content about your product or service. Google feels that people vote by recommending you, by connecting with your internet properties (liking, following, etc..) and people vote by sharing your message (whether it’s a blog post,  tweet, URL or coupon). Google also assume that negative votes (poor reviews and bad testimonials) should count against you. Google employs its secret and proprietary algorithm to assess your internet property’s popularity which results in your keyword ranking. Google also likes you to provide a wide variety of useful content. A good way to start is to provide lots of multimedia posts. Provide lots of quality videos, podcasts, blog posts, pictures, articles and social posts to begin with. On top of this the posts have to be seen and shared by lots of people. This means you have to develop a strong social network with a substantial number of followers. Otherwise your information will not get viewed, read, played, commented on or shared. Having good quality content is the start, getting play is the goal. Having content that is being used, commented on and shared gets you recognized and improves ranking.

      4.      The last piece to the puzzle is consistency. You have to provide content on a regular (i.e. weekly) basis. Some mediums require daily content. And you have to consistently invite people to follow you so that your social networks grow. Follow these general rules and you will be 50 percent closer to your goal. The last 50 percent requires testing, measuring and adapting to market conditions. Being found is only half the battle. Providing a compelling message that closes the deal is the second part that must be discovered through diligent testing and measuring.

While it is uncertain what the next twenty years will bring one thing is certain.  Never in the history of advertising have consumers help so much sway over the merchants from which they buy.  The very concept of  dominance via online public opinion isn't only unprecedented, it is webolutionary.  Have a happy and safe fourth of July.

Hector Cisneros is COO and social media director for WSquared Media Group. Connect with him on TwitterFacebookGoogle+, and YouTube. W Squared Media Group is based in Jacksonville, FL. He is also co-host of Blog Talk Radio’s “Working the Web to Win,” where he and Carl make Working the Web to Win simple for every business. Hector is a syndicated writer and published author of two books, including 60 Seconds to success and Century which you can get free by clicking on the link.

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