Next Tech

by Carl Weiss

If you think the World Wide Web has gotten crowded now that everything from tablets to phones are surfing the web, wait until you get a look at some of the next generation technologies.  Soon your wristwatch and glasses will be internet-ready.   There could even be a personal robot and aerial drone in your future.  So if you think it's already a Wild, Wild Web, you haven't seen anything yet.

Watch Out!

Since the advent of the smartphone many people no longer wear a watch.  But if Apple and a number of other companies and startups have their way, wearing a computer on your wrist could soon be consider hip. 

The much ballyhooed iWatch isn’t even on the shelf yet but it has already stirred up a lot of interest.  As of the date of this article, there isn’t even a definitive picture of what the iWatch will look like, let alone the kind of capabilities the device will incorporate, but that doesn’t stop the rumor mill. What it has done is stir up keen interest by competitors and emulators. So much so that there are already competing products available, such as Kickstarter funded Pebble.  While the Pebble looks more or less like a conventional wristwatch at first glance, it is more closely associated with a smartphone than it is with a timex, due to the fact that it is programmable.

The company says on its Web site that "apps bring Pebble to life." The device is "infinitely customizable." This means you can download everything different watch faces to Internet-connected apps that will allow you to use your smartwatch as a fitness tracker, accessing GPS on your smartphone to display speed, distance, and pace data. You can also use the music control app to play, pause, or skip tracks on your phone.  This new smartwatch has a 1.26-inch screen that uses e-paper technology so that it can be viewed even in bright sunlight. The device is water resistant, and it's battery should last a week on one charge.
Wrist This!

It turns out that the wrist isn’t only for watches, if Thalmic Labs has anything to say about it.  Their Myo (pronounced me-oh) armband is designed to control a computer or other device using hand and arm gestures. While the device is not yet on store shelves, preorders are being taken for $149.00, with the expected ship date being late this year.

“Myo fits around a user's arm just below the elbow. Users have access to a range of controls, allowing them to navigate pages by swiping in the air with two fingers, stop tracks in iTunes by clenching a fist, control first person shooters by mimicking a gun, and more. 

Myo's range of gesture controls stems from the device's monitoring of the electrical signals passing through the arm muscles of its wearer. Different arm and hand motions require different muscle movements, and the device's sensors pick up on the different electrical activity, translating it into digital commands.”

The Digital High Ground

Of course, as anyone knows, when it comes to shooting for the digital high ground, you have to aim high.  This is exactly what Google has done with its latest innovation, called Glass.  While not exactly available on the shelf, Google has made the device available to app creators along with limited numbers of the general public who are willing to shell out $1,500.00 and travel to New York, San Francisco or Los Angeles to pick up their prize.  That’s right, I said prize, because in order to qualify, you need to enter a contest in which you come up with a creative way in which to use Glass. If you are one of the lucky “winners” you will be one of the first to experience the all-encompassing sensation of sporting a wearable computer.

Joshua Topolsky at The Verge tried out Glass at Google’s New York City headquarters and reported that acclimation to the device was very easy. “The privacy issue is going to be a big hurdle for Google with Glass,” Topolsky says. “Almost as big as the hurdle it has to jump over to convince normal people to wear something as alien and unfashionable as Glass seems right now.”

Seeing is Believing

While wearing a computer on your head might seem a bit self-conscious to some, when it comes to the next wave in digital technology, the sky’s the limit…quite literally.  What I’m alluding to are personal aerial drones.  While you may have read about or seen the Pentagon’s predator UAV, think smaller when you think PAD.  Literally dozens of companies have created remote controlled miniature aircraft replete with cameras.  Able to hover, these aren’t the toy helicopters you played with as kids.  These are highly sophisticated aerial surveillance platforms that retail anywhere from $300.00 to tens of thousands of dollars.  While units at the high end of the price range are mostly being used by law enforcement agencies, those at the lower echelon are eminently available to the public.

Parrot AR Drone flights
Parrot AR Drone flights (Photo credit: Mike Miley)

“For example, the Parrot AR Drone, has a range of about 160 feet, is controlled by a smart phone app, and can be bought at Toys R Us for $300. It's aimed at teens and adults that want an enhanced video game experience. Parrot said sales have already exceeded 500,000.  3D Robotics makes a $500 drone that flies itself via GPS, scouring fields for information on crop conditions including water levels, pest infestations and other signs of trouble. Currently, Anderson said farmers pay $1,000 an hour for aircraft flyovers, a cost that's prohibitively expensive.”

While some would consider these devices as toys, the ACLU is already looking into the ways in which this kind of technology has the potential to infringe on personal privacy.

"The technology of surveillance is becoming retail, and that will pose real challenges to our traditional notion of privacy," said Catherine Crump, an ACLU attorney. With ever-shrinking size and ever better camera technology, the group is concerned that people acting under the assumption that they're in the privacy of their own homes or yards could be wrong. Crump said. "It's not clear that there's anything restricting someone from flying a drone over the property of others."

Sweeping with the Enemy

With everything from the government to search engine data collection  slowly but surely eroding our privacy, you wouldn’t think that Americans by and large would be keen to embrace even more technology into their lives.  And you would be wrong.  At least you are when it comes to eliminating mindless routine and thankless chores from their lives.  While the personal robot isn’t exactly going to emulate Rosie the robot from the Jetsons (not at least you have a spare $400,000 lying around), the market for these devices is clearly a growth industry.

English: iRobot Scooba 380 floor washing robot
English: iRobot Scooba 380 floor washing robot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Yes, Virginia, there are currently robots that will do everything from cleaning your floors (Roomba) to mowing the lawn (Robomow).  They can also clean the gutter (Looj), the pool (Verro), and even wet mop your tile (Scooba). The Cadillac of domestic robots is without a doubt Willow Garage’s PR2, a unit that is capable of shooting pool, baking cookies and even fetching and opening a beer from the fridge. (You can’t make this stuff up.  See video  at the link below.)

Like any technology, robotics can be a two-edged sword.  What could be a time saving device could eventually cost people jobs. Check out the description of Sears RoboMower:

Work Smart, Not Hard This Summer With The Right Lawnmower
Whether you wish to spend your free time basking in the warm summer sun, working on important summer projects or heading out to the beach, take a tedious task off your plate and spend more time the way you want to. Add the RoboMower robotic lawn mower to your tool collection and make an effective friend that'll keep your yard in order week after week so you can get out and enjoy life in the sun.
Moving at .5 meters per second, this Robomower makes short work of standard yards while giving you a neat uniform cut and depositing mulch, giving you a thicker, healthier lawn without all the work. 

Tell me this technology isn’t going to reek havoc with the wallets of every enterprising teenager in town.  Of course, then there is the flip side of the coin where most teenagers would be more than happy if they ever again had to mow a lawn.  In essence this is the meme of technology; that some will benefit, others will be supplanted and inevitably when it comes to technology, we will all need to adjust our personal comfort zones. 

Carl Weiss has helps clients deal with technology on a daily basis.  He is president of W Squared Media Group, a digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.  He also owns and operates Jacksonville Video Production, a digital video production company.

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Leveraging LinkedIn

by Hector "The Connector" Cisneros

If your company is a B2B entity that is trying to use social media without all that much success, leveraging LinkedIn could be the solution.  If you are an executive who wants to climb the corporate ladder but you really don't know where to start you could also benefit from LinkedIn In this article we will explore the following three areas:

1.      What it takes to use LinkedIn in order to maximize your exposure.
2.      The built-in tools that maximize your connections.
3.      How to put together a cohesive strategy to get the biggest bang for your efforts.

Social is Not Selling

Social media is not selling, t least not in the conventional sense. Social networking is more about connecting, sharing  and following. The closest thing to selling in social networking is word of mouth. The marketing part comes into play when a friend family member, co-worker or customer sings your praises. These testimonials are priceless and here is where you can strike gold with LinkedIn.

Make sure you provide testimonials and referrals for those who do the same for you. LinkedIn has a built-in mechanism that allows you to effectively provide testimonials and recommendations for others. It also automatically asks the recipient to reciprocate. Be generous but honest with your responses, compliments and testimonials. Being courteous and active will get you a long way.

Recommendations are listed under the “Profile” navigation link. In fact, this is where you should start. Make sure your profile is as complete as possible. Leave out sensitive information like your social security number, children’s names, home address etc.… but be thorough enough so that anyone reading your profile will feel they are getting a good look at whom they are dealing with.

Help is Just a Click Away

If you’re just starting out, know that LinkedIn has a very good built-in help directory. The “Help Center” is located under the “More” navigation link. The “Help Center” provides just about everything you would ever need if you got stuck. On top of that, LinkedIn provides many wizards to help you walk through setting up your personal or business profile.  If you're still stuck, you can always go to YouTube and do a search on LinkedIn and you will find hundreds of free training videos to learn from. Just make sure they are current.

It’s Not What You Know

Your contacts are the people you have connected with within LinkedIn. Connect provides a way to invite people to connect with you. You can invite people by importing a contact list from Gmail or a CVS file you have created in Microsoft Excel. You can also invite people to follow you if you see them listed in a people search via the search bar.  You can also organize your connections by categories you create.  These are called Tags. Tags allow you to create categories like friends, college buddies, BNI members etc…  Profiles allow you to organize connections from saved searches of people you may or may not be connected to. This is a great tool for salespeople. However it’s only useful if you have the pro version of LinkedIn. More on this later.

The Inbox

The Inbox lists messages you have received and have sent. It also allows you to send invitations to people you may know. This list is based on the 2nd and 3rd tier connection possibilities of people to whom you are already connected. Just remember that when you click on the “Connect” button, you need to know the person you're attempting to connect with. Inviting people you don’t know is considered spam mail in LinkedIn. You do have more flexibility with the Pro version, but even there you have to use common sense. If you join “Groups” you are considered connected with the members of the group. It’s considered OK to invite these people. They can always choose to ignore you anyway. One last thing on the Inbox and connecting. You don’t have to connect with everyone. Read a person’s profile and make a decision based on whether it seems right for you.

News Feeds

When I refer to news feeds I am actually referring to two items in LinkedIn. One is under the “Home” navigation link on LinkedIn and the other is under the “News” navigation link. Your “Home” page lists post from all the people you follow and are connected to. When they or you type something in the “Share an update…” box it goes out to everyone you're connected to. A similar box is available for any group you are a member of.

The other part of the “News” feed is under the “News” navigation link.  This provides access to LinkedIn’s online news feeds that it considers tailored for you. Here you can customize your news feed so that it provides news items in which you are interested. This is a great resource if you use other social networks like Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus. These quality articles can also be used as content that you can post to your other social networks.

Search and Connect

LinkedIn has over 200 million subscribers of which 500,000+ are executives. If you are in sales,  you will love the capabilities of the Search tool.  You can search by a person’s name, company, industry, location, title, Groups, relationships, Seniority Level, Interest, function, language, company size and ranking on the Fortune 1000. Here is where having the Pro (meaning paid version) of LinkedIn pays off. The Pro version allows you to contact anyone (between 10 and 50 per month depending on which level you have purchased). It allows you to create premium filters, save profiles you have created and much more.

Regardless of what level you use (free or pro) the search feature is very powerful. It can save you a lot of time and money when you’re trying to connect with a business owner or decision maker. If you don’t have the Pro version you will have to use an intermediary to connect with someone. LinkedIn always shows if you are connected to someone by someone else you know. Once you determine that a connection exists, ask your friend, co-worker or associate to make the introduction for you. One they introduce you get connected and send an invitation invite to meet with you or offer to help them in some way.  Don’t always go for the throat and try sell to them. Remember that social media is about building trust and credibility through word of mouth, not direct selling.

There’s Strength in Numbers

To join a LinkedIn group, click on the “Groups” navigation link. Groups are a little like clubs that are virtual where everyone connect through posts and messages. They all have their own rules and most groups usually have a somewhat narrow focus.  Joining a group gives you access to the members of the group. You will be able to participate in the online conversations and topics that take place. Being active in a group is a great way to connect with like-minded people. It can also be a great way to connect with potential clients. As mentioned earlier, by joining a group you gain access to its members and are allowed to invite them to connect with you and join your network.

Don’t see a group with a focus you like? Create your own group where you are the moderator and you set up the focus and rules. Click on the “Create a group” link in the “Groups” section and answer the questions to create your own group. Once you set up your group you need to invite people you are connected with to join. You can also invite people from other groups you are a member of. LinkedIn will even help from time to time once it determines what your group’s focus is. It will invite people who show an interest in your focus by sending them an invitation to join.

Company Pages

Any business owner can and should create a business profile on LinkedIn.  Just like an individual profile, a business profile needs to be complete.  This is the place to list mission statements, unique selling propositions, product profiles, service listing, brochures, videos, and testimonials. It’s very important that you use the proper “keywords” in your profile. These profiles rank in the top search engines. Leaving out important information will get you left out of the search engines. To add a company, look for the link just below the Search Box when you click on the “Companies” navigation link. The “Companies” link also allows you to search for companies by name, keyword or industry. It also lets you to follow specific company posts to see what they are saying and doing.

Need a Job?

If you’re looking for a job or you’re looking for employees, this is the LinkedIn tool for you. By clicking on the “Jobs” navigation link you can choose to; “Find Jobs”, join “Job Seeker Premium”, “Post a Job”, “Manage Your Jobs,” or use the Talent Solutions“ feature. This is another LinkedIn tool that I could write a whole article on. Needless to say, if you’re looking for a job, you can find lots of jobs here. Generally these will be top career jobs not entry level positions. These jobs will be from around the world and cover every aspect of employment. If you’re looking for a good paying career position, you may want to look into using their paid Job Seeker Premium service. It allows you to contact executives and decision makers directly (up to 10 a month). This $40 a month investment could help you land that position you’ve always dreamed about.

If you’re on the other side of the equation and are looking for talented people, LinkedIn “Jobs Posting” and paid “Talent Solutions” functions can be very powerful tools. The free post allows you to list positions and get connected with job seekers. The “Talent Solution” is a separate, full featured, paid, recruitment system.

LinkedIn Ads

Like most other social media venues, LinkedIn is monetized. One of the ways they make money is by selling advertising space on their site. This includes the side panels of all pages, and at the top of the page via a text ad. LinkedIn can be a very cost effective advertising medium, primarily because you can target your audience. It is also a great place for A/B testing of ads. The Ad wizard will walk you through creating your ad or A/B test and it will provide what the minimal cost per click will run. You can also run ads based on either a pay per 1000 impressions or pay per click. Your ads can contain a picture, can point to something in LinkedIn, or to most websites, or even a blog. If you're selling a tangle product or service, this is one of the low cost leaders in pay per click, especially if you sell B2B.  The LinkedIn PPC system works well and is worth looking into.

Who You Gonna Call?

Have a question you need answered?  Want to know what skills you need for a specific job or line of work. Then the “Skills & Expertise” function is for you. This function is listed under the “More” navigation link and allows you to “Discover the skills you need to succeed”. The search box here provides you with indirect access to professionals who list themselves as experts in their chosen fields. It also allows you to add skills to your profile so that others can endorse you as having those skills. In this section you will also see featured professionals and be able to click on their profiles to learn more about them. You will also be listed in search when someone is looking to add a specific skill or expertise to their profile.

LinkedIn Articles

LinkedIn scours the web for breaking news along with the best and most informative articles that business people are interested in reading. As I mentioned earlier, you can choose the subjects that interest you, follow specific leaders and comment on the best business content the web has to offer. I love reading the articles from LinkedIn and I suggest you read them too.  It has provided me with tons of useful and informative content to share with my many followers. Since social networking is all about connecting, and sharing useful, educational, or entertaining content with others, these articles will help you do just that.
LinkedIn Pro
If you are considering the pro (paid) version of LinkedIn, in my opinion they are worth it if you use it. I have been a member of LinkedIn since late 1994. I have signed up for the pro version off and on several times over the years. If you’re in sales, spending the $39.95 a month to get the pro version should not be a hardship. If you need to contact more people per month or have greater needs they offer several levels to expand your ability to increase the number of contacts while narrowing the focus of your searches.
LinkedIn, like any social network, requires dedication to learning its feature, actively using it and proactively engaging others. It is useless if it’s not fed on a regular basis. Social networking requires consistency and dedication. For some business people, using LinkedIn is a business way of life. For others it’s a complicated maze that just seems like too much trouble. Take it from me, it’s worth any amount of trouble since it can provide a substantial payoff.  If you are looking for a way to break out of the herd and increase both exposure and results, you owe it to yourself to Leverage LinkedIn.

Hector Cisneros is COO of W Squared Media Group, a company that specializes in online marketing for the 21st century, including social media.

What's in a name? Reputation management in the 21st Century.

by Hector Cisneros

Have you ever wondered what people are saying about you? Wish you could be a fly on the wall so that you would know exactly where you stand? If you’re a business owner, how do you know if customers or competitors are spreading malicious rumors about your company, brand or product? How do you know what consumers are saying about you, your employees and your company in general?

In today's post I will cover many of the digital reputation issues that executives and businesses have to contend with today. I will provide a list of the types of problems that are prevalent, how to monitor your reputation and provide more than a dozen ways you can help improve your online reputation.

Where to Begin

First, what are the kinds of problems that owners or executives have to contend with? A business has to protect its good name, its brand, and its reputation, as well as making sure that the reputation of its owners, agents and employees aren’t soiled.  The most common type of issues for businesses are bad reviews. This can be for the company itself, for poor product performance, poor service, no service or poor employee behavior. 

The Ultimate Fix

The best way to make sure you don’t have these kinds of problems is to create a corporate culture of excellence where all your people are focused on fixing the problems, not the blame. Make sure that you never over promise and under deliver. Last but not least, if someone or something fails to perform, simply make it right! Even if it costs you money. If an employee or executive fails you in an egregious manner, you may have to terminate them.  As they say, "One bad apple spoils the barrel."  As you will quickly find out, one bad review online can ruin your reputation and hurt the bottom line.

Other Issues

Along with bad reviews, you can also have issues like confused or mistaken identity, poor online presence, poor interaction, or poor functionality. On top of this your best material, such as your blog content, social profiles and other items may just be buried in the online sea of data.

Good search engine optimization can fix many of these issues and proactive online marketing can ensure that your positive content is visible to the masses.

Fan’s, Fakes and Hatesites

It’s common for people who are Fan’s of movies, books and even products to create social media sites and even websites that promote their favorite brand or products. However, you must maintain control of your reputation as outsiders may not do your company justice and they could accidentally soil your reputation.

It’s also common to have “fake” or spoof accounts created in your name, your products name, brand name or even company name. Many times  I have seen Twitter accounts that read “TheReal_____”. You can fill in the blank with just about any famous person’s name, for example TheRealNimoy. Beware of these and monitor them for liability. In many cases, you can get them shut down if their authors step out of line.

Hate websites are a whole other issue. If you have angered someone so badly that they have gone through all the trouble to build, publish and host a website debasing you, you have a big problem. I would be willing to bet that you have a systemic business problem that needs to be fixed. Either way, even if you’re innocent, your only recourse is either to take legal action, (which may not get the hate site pulled) or reconcile with the person you have angered.

The Worst Case Scenario!

The last and worse of all possible reputation issues is Identity Theft. Here you have to be very proactive in protecting yourself. Make sure you shred all documents that have sensitive information like social security numbers, bank/financial accounts, credit card accounts or anything that is tied directly to your name. I suggest you maintain a personal protection account like Life Lock for yourself, your executives and high profile employees. These services cannot absolutely guarantee that your identity is safe but they can provide a host of financial resources to help make you whole again.

Along these same lines, make sure your computers, tablets, and smart phones are adequately protected with top-notch antivirus/anti-malware software like Trend Micro, Advanced System Care or other name brand products. Make sure you have a company privacy and ID policy in place and make sure your employees adhere to it.

The Top 12 things you can do to protect your reputation.

So, what can you do to protect yourself, and your company’s name, brand products and employees from acquiring a tarnished reputation. Here is a baker’s dozen of tactics designed to keep your reputation shiny and clean.
1.   Create a corporate culture that is customer focused. Promote honesty and integrity. Fix problems instead of placing blame. Never, ever over promise or under deliver.
2.   Proactively be your own advocate. Monitor your reputation by regularly engaging in reputation searches. 
3.   Purchase Life Lock or other ID protection service for yourself, your executives and your high profile employees.
4.   Make sure the contact information listed on all your social nets is correct, consistent and readily available. Too many companies today try to hide behind an “email wall”! Make sure you have a real address, phone number and even a Google map on you site.
5.   Help others with their good reputation. This will make it more likely that they will help you with yours.
6.   Create a profile for every product or service you have and make sure that you provide a consistent brand look and feel.
7.   Proactively make sure you have a full spread of social net profiles in place  tells your story accurately. The top social nets to  include are Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn 
8.   Actively recruit and reward those who provide you with testimonials, positive reviews and positive digital word of mouth via social media.
9.   If you, your company or your product ever fails to perform as promised make sure you make the issue go away by making it right as quickly as possible.
10.   Make sure that all web properties have proper search engine optimization for keywords, company name and brand.
11. Make sure you have created adequate back links between your websites, social nets, blogs and any other web profiles that exist.
12. Create and promote positive digital and conventional PR for your business, your brand and even your executives.
13. Listen to what people are saying about your company. Don’t be afraid to ask people, vendors and consumer to be candid with you. Send out anonymous surveys at least once a year.

One last thought. If you can't fix the bad reputation problem because there is just too much bad press, create a new company name, new website, social profile and brand. Basically, you will have to start from scratch to create a new reputation. This time however, follow my suggestions.

In this article I have outlined the most common reputation management problems businesses face today. They cover the gamut from poor reviews to ID theft. I have included many steps you can take to discover and isolate these issues. More importantly, I have provided more than a dozen ways that will help you manage your digital reputations for both your top people and your company’s primary assets.

If you have found this article useful, please pass it on. If you want to share your thoughts on this subject or have something to add please enter it in our comment section so that we can share it with others. It is my hope that we all pay close attention to these issues because in the 21st century, WWW still stands for the wild, wild, west. That’s my opinion, I want to hear yours.

Hector Cisneros is COO of W Squared Media Group. a company that specializes in Online Marketing for the 21st Century.

The Care & feeding of the 800 Lb Gorilla in the Room

By Carl Weiss

With right around 80% of the worldwide search market, Google is the King Kong of search engines.  According to ComScore, 1n 2011, consumers made 4,717,000,000 searches per day on Google.  That accounted for more than 65% of all searches made worldwide.  In comparison, the number two search engine, Yahoo, only accounted for 16% of the search market in 2011. Since then, Google has gobbled up even more of the search engine market and it’s getting stronger all the time.  Aside from being one of the most profitable companies on the planet (their Q3 earnings in 2012 were in excess of $14 billion), they also own a number of other wildly popular sites, such as YouTube. When it comes to succeeding online, you need to make friends with this largest of all online primates. 

As the saying goes, “What do you feed an 800 lb gorilla?  Anything it wants.”

In case you haven’t noticed, Google is one picky eater.  He wants what he wants.  And what he mostly wants is to be fed his own brands.  Therefore, when you think video, think YouTube.  When you think blogs, think Blogger.  When you think social network, think Google+.  If you want the gorilla to like you, then you have to feed him what he likes to eat on a regular basis. 

The Game has Changed, but the Name Remains the Same

When Google started back in 1998, there were a number of viable search engines that offered the opportunity to create page 1 placement in as little as 24 hours.  Back then, everything you needed to generate page 1 placement was right on your homepage.  In 98 there were no blogs, no social networks and no YouTube.  Bandwidth was so tight that it could take several minutes for a website to load if it sported a lot of graphics.  So all the search engine spiders had to use to make their ranking decision was contained on-site. 

Jump ahead fifteen years and while many of the names remain the same, the whole game had radically changed.  Nowadays on-site SEO only accounts for 25% of the ranking criteria used by search engines.  The other 75% is made up of blog posts, social posts, videos, podcasts, etc.  In other words, in today’s World Wide Web, content is king.

Here’s where many people fall off the wagon.  You see, it isn’t enough just to have blogs, videos and social networks connected to your website.  If you want to succeed at search engine marketing, you need to create content on a regular and continuous basis.  With blogs you need to post at least once per week.  When it comes to social networks, you need to feed the need on a daily basis.  As for videos, the more the merrier. 

If you’re going to play the game, you might as well play to win.

When it comes to working the web to win, there are winners and there are losers.  Just as in the casinos, the players with the most chips tend to dominate the game.  In the case of the Internet, this means that big businesses can muscle their way to the top of most searches.  That’s because they can afford to hire armies of bloggers, and social networkers, and video producers galore to create content, content and more content. 

Most small businesses on the other hand find it hard to come up with enough chips (re content) to even get into the game.   Does that mean that small business owners should throw in the towel?  Hardly.  What it does mean is that you need to find a way to if not exactly level the playing field, then at least tip it in the right direction so that you can walk away with more chips than you started with.

Together We Stand.  Divided We Fall.

The same principles that built our nation can be used to build your web presence.  What I am talking about is people power and guerilla marketing.  Use people power to create an “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” mentality and use guerilla tactics to hit the big guys where they ain’t.

Having trouble writing a weekly blog?  Either outsource the task or get a blog buddy.  What’s a blog buddy?  That’s someone who will read and more importantly comment upon your blogging efforts week in and week out.  (It’s what used to be called an editor.)  When writing a weekly blog it sometimes gets hard to see the forest for the trees.  A blog buddy can let you know if you are going off the rail, or are chasing the wrong story.  They can help you clean up your copy and can even suggest new blog topics.  The catch is that in order to avail yourself of these services you need to either pay for or trade out these services.  (My CFO is my blog buddy.)

Writ large you can use these same guerilla tactics to create a peer group that not only produces, but reads, comments upon and reposts each other’s blogs to the social nets.  This is the concept we used to create Club W Cubed, the Internet blogging, social networking and search engine marketing club.  We recognized the high value that Google placed on blogs, reviews, recommendations and reposts and created a mechanism that allows members to efficiently provide these services to one another.

Lights, Camera, Online Action

Another thing that Google loves is called mixed media.  This consists of visual elements such as photos and videos.  A properly optimized video can jump from YouTube to Google page 1 way faster than a properly optimized website.  Plus a video is five times as likely to generate a click as is a website.  Video content doesn’t need to be lengthy or flashy.  A sixty second video that is entertaining and /or informative is all that it takes to get into the game.  You can either hire the job out or you can shoot your own videos using your laptop, tablet or smartphone. (Please invest in a tripod if you plan on using your cellphone, since there is nothing more annoying to a viewer than Shaky-Cam.)

Even better is the fact that YouTube now includes a complete editing suite on the site that anyone can use to spruce up their efforts.  Everything from image stabilization to royalty free music tracks are there for the taking.  So there’s no need to spend a bundle to let out your inner Steven Spielberg. 

The Table is Set

When it comes to putting on the feedbag for the 800 lb gorilla, it doesn’t take bushels baskets of cash to bring home the bacon.  All it takes is patience, persistence and a bunch of bananas to get you into the game and on Google’s good side.

Carl Weiss has been feeding the gorilla since its birth in 1998.  His company WSquared Media Group specializes in helping companies generate online results.  He also owns and operates Jacksonville Video and can be heard weekly on his Working the Web Radio Show that is broadcast on Blog Talk Radio every Tuesday at 4pm Eastern.