Choosing Your Battles is What it Takes to Win the Tablet Wars

By Carl Weiss

Listen to internet radio with workingthewebtowin on Blog Talk Radio

If you are thinking about buying a tablet PC, you should be aware that there are now many variations of the device that was first brought to the world by Apple Computer on April 3, 2010.  It’s hard to believe that in less than three years the tablet PC market has exploded to the point that there are tablets galore being manufactured by everyone from Acer to Vizio.  As a result it is getting more and more difficult to decide which tablet is right for you.

Apple, Google and now Microsoft?

While Apple did invent the tablet PC, Google quickly followed suit.  In fact, in a CNet interview in October, Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt admitted that , "The Android-Apple platform fight is the defining fight in the industry today."  He also went onto intimate that within a year, more than one billion devices were expected to be running on Android.  So when it comes to choosing one platform over the other, it is simply a matter of preference, since both offer millions of apps from which to choose.

The problem is that another mover and shaker, Microsoft, has just entered the fray with their Windows 8 compatible Surface. This has also spawned a whole slew of other hardware vendors from Dell to Samsung creating their version of a Windows 8 compatible Tablet.  Microsoft Surface is their first real foray into the hardware tablet/PC platform arena.

Even though Microsoft is a late comer to the Tablet wars, they could prove to be a player! With Microsoft’s worldwide distribution channels and large installed customer base, they will make inroads quickly. If the sell out of their first manufacturing run is any indication of this product sell ability it will be one to watch. Microsoft's  design is innovative, high tech and offers many features not available on competing models. Plus it runs Microsoft Office, the number one office suite in the business world. Microsoft’s entry is not a cheap knockoff, it’s a real hybrid with high end competing features and it is priced accordingly. Currently the MS Surface is only available in a 10.1 inch model but if you love Microsoft it’s worth a look.

Size Matters

While there are variations on a theme, for the most part tablets are most commonly available in either 7-inch or a 10-inch models.   While size matters, it’s not in the way you would at first think.  While many people deride the 7-inch tablet, Steve Jobs having been chief among them, there is most definitely a time and a place where less is more.  To make matters worse, there are hybrid devices that blur the line between smart phone and tablet. Both Samsung and LG have release smart phone in the 5+ inch size that have all the capabilities of full size tables (and of course they are cell phones too). Not to be out done Apple recently released its new IPad Mini with a 4 inch format.

A report from CNet: Nearly 60 percent of units shipped this year will be 9-inch screen tablets with the iPad at the top of the list, according to the firm. But the 7-inch tablets are cutting into the iPad's hold on the market -- those shipments account for 32 percent, up from 26 percent last year.

Other than size, 7-inch units are decidedly cheaper.  Google’s Nexus 7 which is one of the best in the business can be had for right around $200, while typical 10 inch tablets retail for four to five hundred dollars.  Besides 7-inchers are much more portable, which is a huge advantage when carrying around other gear.  7-inch models  can also be slipped into a pocket.  10-inch tablets are closer to a laptop in size versus a smartphone.  This means that if you want to do a lot of typing, a 7-inch tablet isn’t for you.

How Low Should You Go?

While size, operating system and speed are three of the variables that many people use to make a final decision on the best tablet to buy, there are always bargain hunters.  With the sheer amount of competition in the marketplace, you would think that prices would start dropping.  To a certain degree you would be right.  But price shouldn’t necessarily be the final arbiter in choosing a tablet.  You still need it to perform the tasks that are near and dear to you.  For example, while I have seen tablets such as the Archos Arnova 9 G3 for as little as $149.95 on Amazon, the question you have to ask yourself is, “How much performance do I need to get out of my tablet?”

A review of the Arnova 9 from PC Advisor states that,” The Arnova 9 G3 display has a 1024x768 resolution but as with the iPad 2, it lack crispness. Text is readable in larger fonts but falls foul of pixelation when browsing text-heavy websites. Video playback can also look patchy at times with colors not blending seamlessly. Colors weren't as vibrant as on the best budget screens, such as Samsung's Galaxy Tab 2.  We managed to squeeze only 5 hours of viewing out of the Arnova 9 G3 before the battery gave in. That's not to say you couldn't use it for casual YouTube perusing, but you'll have to do this via the browser as Arnova hasn't installed the Google Play app store and no YouTube app is pre-loaded.”

So if you are looking for a powerhouse, don’t necessarily expect a bargain.  You may find that the bargain tablet you purchased doesn’t have the speed, battery life, resolution or app availability that you desire.  Besides the differential in price between the low and high end of the spectrum is only a few hundred dollars for the most part.  So why split hairs?

Need a Tablet You Can Get Wet?

Of course, if you are looking to take your tablet on the high seas or into the rainforest then you definitely need to find a tablet that’s up to the task.  AT& T’s Pantech Element is designed to be submerged in up to three feet of water for up to 30 minutes.  While you can’t exactly take it scuba diving, it’s tough enough to take boating or camping.  While most Android tablets come in either a 7 or 10 inch variant, the designers of the element decided to go with an 8-inch screen.  Other than that, it’s a fairly straightforward 16 GB Android Honeycomb tablet that is available for $299.99 with a two-year contract, or $449.99 without.

 Winning the Battle and Losing the War

Remember, choosing the best tablet for your needs is not something you should take lightly.  The last thing you want to do is buy a tablet online based on your research only to find out once it arrives that you absolutely hate it.  So before making a purchase, take the time to go to a retailer that carries the unit in order to hold it in your own two hands and put it through its paces.  If you fail to do this then you might wind up in the unenviable position of winning the battle only to lose the war, in which case you could wind up putting your latest purchase up for resale on EBay or Craigslist. Actually if you wait till after Christmas you may find the tablet of your dreams in the same place for half the money.

Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group a digital media agency located in Jacksonville, Florida. He also owns and operates Jacksonville VideoProduction and cohosts the weekly “Working the Web to Win Radio Show,” that airs at 4pm every Tuesday on Blog Talk RadioPC 

How to Be a Social Media Rock Star

Listen to internet radio with workingthewebtowin on Blog Talk Radio

By Carl Weiss

Are you looking to for a cost effective way to grow your business?  Do you want to break the demoralizing cycle of cold-call, sales pitch and call-back, while attracting the attention, respect and recognition of prospects and clients the world over?  The good news is that accomplishing this task is easier than you might think.  What I’m talking about is using social networking as a business tool.  When it comes to social networking, there are two schools of thought:
  1.          Registering with a social network
  2.         Using a social network

For the most part, many small business owners fall into the first category.  This means that while they are enrolled in such networks as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others, they rarely feed the nets and/or they have few followers.  Unless you are willing to post to your networks on a daily basis, you will attain little or no advantage for your business.  Add to this the fact that if the amount of followers in your account is in the tens or even hundreds, then you are short sheeting yourself when it comes to being able to tap into the power of social networking.  As a rule, when you create a post, only ten percent of your followers are likely to read it and only ten percent of those who read it are likely to act on it.  This means that in order to get into the game you need to create a base of followers in the thousands.  The ways you do this are by providing compelling content and by actively pushing the envelope in order to build a following.

If you search the Internet, you will quickly find that those firms who have established their brand online as a hot commodity have gone out of their way to provide their ever growing audience with content that is much more than mere press releases.  Some of the most popular this year included a YouTube campaign for Carlsberg Beer that featured a movie theater full of burly bikers, a visually stunning Pinterest campaign by and a Twitter blitz for the motion picture Bully.  While the use of text or visually-based networks was different in all three of the above-mentioned cases, what was similar was the way that these companies used social networking to create a buzz. So the first three things that any aspiring rock star has to do is practice, practice, practice.

What Social Networking is Not

When you consider that most social networks are less than 5 years old, there has been a certain learning curve needed in order to successfully employ this medium for promotional purposes.  Some online marketers assume that the correct way to feed the social nets is to send out ad copy.  This couldn’t be further from the truth. While social media is possibly the world’s most powerful form of word of mouth marketing, the last thing that your online followers wants to receive is ad copy.  Face it, Americans are bombarded practically 24/7 with advertisements.  From the moment they wake up to the moment their head hits the pillow at night, they have ads coming at them from every direction.  As a result, people start to tune out ads.  So this is not the best way to engage and grow a following online.

What Social Networking Can Be

Social networking can be one of the best means of convincing the masses to do business with you.  For the most part, these tools are also some of the most cost effective advertising vehicles known to modern man, since they cost little or even nothing to use.  But the secret to employing this technology successfully is to entice your audience with useful, time saving, or entertaining information that relates to your business.  Rather than hammering away at your prospects with a full frontal sales assault as you would with traditional advertising, by embracing social networking, you need to go the extra yard if you want to be a star. Think of doing such things as embedding or linking podcasts and videos to your posts.  This will not only enhance your drawing power, but it will also up the ante of the SEO of your posts.  What better way to attract an audience other than to get onto page one of the world's most popular search engine.

If you want to be a social media rock star, you need to stop thinking about your networks as a chore and start thinking about the ways of compelling your audience to actively seek out and repost your content.  Do this and it will soon be your competition that is relegated to singing the blues.

Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group a prominent online marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He also owns and operates Jacksonville Video and is co-host of Blog Talk Radio’s “Working the Web to Win,” which airs every Tuesday at 4pm Eastern.

Why You Should Be Gaga for Google+

By Carl Weiss

It has been called everything from an online ghost town to one of the best social networks ever invented for small businesses.  But there is one thing that neither pundits nor detractors can deny.  That is that Google+ is the only social network in the world directly operated by the world’s most popular search engine.

An extension of the Google brand

Sure, G+ was invented strictly due to the fact that Facebook’s popularity was a threat to the 800 lb gorilla in the room named Google.  But far from being its downfall, the me-too look and feel of Google+ did not come about by accident.  When designing the company owned social network, the nerds at Google took a look at what worked and what didn’t work on other search engines.  Then they used the best and discarded the rest.  This is one of the reasons that starting a G+ account is so easy to do.  There isn’t a lot of time spent on learning how to use the thing. 

Got a gmail account?  Simply log into Google and hit the (name)+ button and away you go.  After filling out profile information and uploading a photo, you’re ready to start friending.  Since G+ is a search engine, anyone who has already registered with Google can be located and added just by typing in their name and hitting enter.  After adding them to your circles Google will inform your friends that you are now linked to them.  It doesn't get any easier than that. (More on how to capitalize on this later.)

So far it seems a lot like Facebook, right?  Well it is and it isn’t.  It is in that using G+ and Facebook are similar.  But Google+ has a lot more to offer a business owner.  Remember Google Local?  This is the local listing engine that used to be a standalone facility on Google.  Well it was folded into G+ several months ago.  In fact, there is a button on the left side of the G+ homepage that accesses this area.  But that’s not all that you are able to access there.  You can also access and update your Google Calendar there.  You can view and upload photos and videos there.  More importantly, you can also start a Hangout there.

Free Videoconferencing

What is a Hangout?  It’s a free video chat facility that you and eight of your closest friends can inhabit at the push of a button.  No software to download.  No cumbersome codes to email.  To spawn a hangout all you have to do is hit the Hangout tab on the G+ homepage and hit “Start a Hangout.”  You can’t miss this button since it’s at the top of the page in red.  Once you hit it, all you need to do to populate it is to enter the names of the people you want to hang out with in the dialog box at the top of the page and hit invite.  Within seconds they will receive your invitation and with one click of the mouse can join you via video.  (You can also screen share with Hangout as well.)  When you consider that using other videoconferencing systems online can cost upwards of fifty bucks per month, this is a real bargain.  At our office we routinely use Hangout to interface with clients and prospects.  Who needs to drive across town when you can spawn a virtual meeting?

Other G+ Features

There are a lot of other features that make Google+ a breeze to use.  Everything is fully editable.  It is also fully searchable.  You can drag and drop videos from your computer or from Youtube in seconds.  Best of all, using G+ will enhance your SEO worthiness since it is owned and operated by Google.  It isn’t at all unusual for a properly optimized Google+ post to wind up on page one of Google.

And don’t believe all the propaganda about G+ being a ghost town.  Sure, it doesn’t have a billion users like Facebook, but it does have more than 100 million active monthly users.  This is hardly an insignificant figure by anyone’s calculation.  When it comes to employing a social network that is easy to use and offers so many free features that business people would otherwise be required to pay and it isn’t hard to see why so many people are gaga for Google+

Carl Weiss is president of W Squared Media Group a prominent online marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Floride.  He also owns and operates Jacksonville Video and is co-host of Blog Talk Radio’s “Working the Web to Win,” which airs every Tuesday at 4pm Eastern.

Social Networking via Video

When most people talk about social media they immediately think of such networks as Facebook, Twitter and Google+.  The last place they would consider networking would be YouTube.  I know what you're thinking, "YouTube is a video portal, not a social network."  When you get right down to it, what is a social network? It's an online diary that can be used to update friends, family and associates about your life and/or your business.  Better still, it's an e-diary that you not only allow, but encourage others to peruse and redistribute.

Now I ask you, which one of the following  is  more compelling:
1. Text
2. Video

I don't know about you, but I am way more likely to watch a 60-second YouTube video than I am to read a blogpost or Tweet.  In fact, one of the things we teach clients to do is embed videos on their blogs and social networks.  Particularly if the videos are amusing, informative and/or entertaining,they will achieve far greater viewership than even the finest prose.

Add to this the fact that in 2010, U.S. Internet users watched 32.4 billion videos in January with Google Sites ranking as the top U.S. video property with 12.8 billion videos. accounted for nearly 99 percent of all videos viewed at Google. (This isn't unusual, since Google owns YouTube.) What is interesting is the fact that video viewers at watched 93 videos on average during the month, representing an increase of 50 percent versus that of a year ago.That's more than 3 per day on average. (Currently YouTube streams more than 4 billion videos per day.)

Are you seeing the value yet? We all know that we must be innovative and creative in order to create and engage an ever growing audience.  So if you are not using YouTube, do you think you might be missing out on something that could help your business?  

Alright, then I'll give you another reason to consider utilizing YouTube.  Did you know that you can create a Page 1 result on Google just by using YouTube?  That's right, the Googlebots are always looking for mixed media to pull onto page one of the most popular search engine in the world.  Properly optimized videos can wind up on Page 1 of a Google search.  This is an even better result than having your website pop up on page 1, since there are only one or two videos that will be found there.  Plus people are five times as likely to watch a video then they are to click over to a site.

When you boil it down, there really is no downside to networking on YouTube. What you need to think about are the following:
  1. How can you use YouTube to attract an audience?  
  2. What humorous or eye-catching theme will give your video the best chance of going viral?
  3. Who on your staff is most photogenic. (Or, should you consider hiring a spokesmodel?) 
The beauty of YouTube is that it even includes a number of categories that you can choose from, including:

    * Autos and Vehicles
    * Comedy
    * Education
    * Entertainment
    * Film and Animation
    * Gaming
    * How-to and Style
    * Nonprofit and Activism
    * People and Blogs
    * Pets and Animals
    * Science and Technology
    * Sports
    * Travel and Events

The first step is to determine which category best fits your business. Keep in mind that when it comes to social media the last thing you want to do is upload a commercial for your product.  People get bombarded with ads on an hourly basis.  What you want to do is intrigue and interact with potential customers.  You also don't want to pretend you're Steven Spielberg.  On YouTube, less is more.  This means that short videos of 1-2 minutes are the best length for viewers.

Next you need to determine what type of video you could post that consumers would find valuable, amusing and/or instructive?

There are dozens of ways to employ video for your business.  You could put together a how-to video? How about shooting an entertaining video that showcases your products?  Remember value and interaction are key to using social media to market your business effectively. Just bear in mind that there is a fine line between providing compelling video content and coming on like an informercial  Unlike TV ads, the key with YouTube is to provide 90% content and 10% selling. 

Of course the best reason to add YouTube to your marketing arsenal is due to the fact that unlike broadcast TV, airing your videos cost you nothing.  Video quality is another matter, but today production costs have come way down.  So, if you can create videos that impart value and engage prospects and customers, getting back the production costs shouldn't be all that difficult. What you need to remember is that your video will be one of 260,000 that are uploaded daily, so make it worthwhile for viewers to tune in. 

As with any social media marketing strategy the key is to be creative and have fun.  But most of all, you should do it because it is one of the most cost-effective ways to market your business online.

Carl Weiss has been helping clients gain a competitive edge online since 1995.  He is president of W Squared Media Group and Owner of Jacksonville Video.  He is also co-host of Working the Web to Win on Blog Talk Radio.