.ME creators rewarded for “making the Internet personal.”

.ME creators rewarded for "making the Internet personal."

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For those webmasters, bloggers, and social networks that have taken advantage of .ME extensions, as opposed to traditional .COM addresses, you could find yourself “reaping the rewards” of innovation in the upcoming weeks.

As of January 4, 2014, .ME Registry personnel have announced “The .ME Loyalty Program” at the 2014 New Media Expo (NMX) n Las Vegas, Nevada. The loyalty program is a platform that connects all .ME users into one community and then rewards them with exciting perks and prizes within the community.

Users can begin collecting points by “checking [.ME] social medias, joining .ME contests, bringing friends to the website, sharing related #hashtags on Twitter or Instagram” …and more! Once points are collected through social action, they may then be rewarded with exciting perks and prizes, “including T-shirts, domain name and hosting packages, gift card vouchers and much more.”

The intent to drive more people to .ME domain extensions for personal and social content creation is the goal of this loyalty program. The .ME extension is becoming more popular in today’s “social society” and .ME registry is creating the opportunity for .ME creators to be rewarded for setting the standard in current web trends and domain destinations.

While a “youngin’” in comparison to .COM destinations, this five-year-old practice has been finding itself gaining momentum and rapidly gaining in web demand. Perhaps this is an attempt to combat the future release of multiple domain extensions that include professions, hobbies and topical interests (i.e. JohnSmith.LAWYER, Grocery.STORE, etc.).

Nonetheless, .ME will continue to grow with demand, due to short addressability, “call to action potential” and the objective of direct social personalization. Currently, there are over 750,000 domain names under .ME control and more than 170 accredited registrars for them, including the popular GoDaddy.com.

The loyalty program was designed to be “clean and easy” while celebrating the .ME community. Users may sign up through traditional means or via Social Sign In (with Facebook, Twitter, etc.). They will then be able to participate in fun activities that allow them to collect points through the program, while saving points to redeem their rewards.

NMX attendees were given an additional incentive through the loyalty program’s grand announcement. They were encouraged to sign up with Facebook and collect points by sharing their ideals on the new program and including photos that they had taken at the .ME booth on Twitter and Instagram, further attaching the #domainME hashtag selected to commence the .ME Loyalty Program campaign.

“As longtime sponsors of NMX, we have developed a truly special relationship with our blogging community. We would like to invite everyone attending the conference to stop by booth number 607 to chat with us, pose for personalized photos and take home swag we’ve designed for the blogger on the go,” said Predrag Lesic, CEO of the .ME Registry. Many did and became the first of what will be many users participating in the .ME Loyalty Program and “making the Internet more personal!”

Be sure to like .ME Registry on Facebook for exciting details on making this year a great year for .ME and you!

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ELEMENTS of Internet Marketing: BrandYOU.

ELEMENTS of Internet Marketing: BrandYOU.

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DISCLAIMER: Every once in a while, we cover “Elements of Internet Marketing” and why they are important for everyone to be aware or reminded of. Some of these topics are not new, but they are very important to consumers and service providers to repeatedly encounter and understand. Today’s “Element” is related to the topic of “BrandYou”. Enjoy!

BrandYOU! Yes, this is a very important topic. I am glad to be writing about it “on demand.” I have covered this topic many, many times within my articles. But, this topic is the most important one that we can ever cover. The reason behind that is that whether you represent a brand or ARE the brand, BRANDYOU can play a major part in your success… “strike that, erase it (Willy Wonka reference).” It will definitely play a major part in your success.

BrandYOU isn’t just about Branding. It isn’t even anything to do with Internet Marketing, but it can be. And, that is the problem. But, it is also the greatest thing that could ever happen! That is why it is so important to understand BrandYOU inside and out.

Have you ever heard that you need to eat, sleep and dream your business in order to see it take form? Have you ever considered the fact that YOU are a business? After all, don’t you file taxes? Do you file as an individual, independent contractor, sole proprietor or board member?

If you said yes, then technically you just proved that you ARE a business, whether you use your own entity, fictitious name or work for someone else’s brand. The truth is, all of these are brands, And the truth is, you are getting paid to represent that brand.

As a matter of fact, you are responsible to pay taxes because that brand is alive! Isn’t that interesting? So, wouldn’t it be in your best interest to keep THOSE interests at the ultimate peak high point at all times? After all, YOU are investing so much time into the brand and then paying taxes on that time that can never be replaced.

In considering this scenario, one should remember a few things about businesses:

  1. First impressions are everything.
  2. Quality customer service needs to be maintained.
  3. Reviews and Testimonials can sway the opinions of those who seek to know about a POTENTIAL service provider.
  4. Competitors exist and work against competitor brands.
  5. What will you do to protect your brand? What will you do to keep the reputation of the brand satisfactory to clients and community?

The obvious first step in BrandYou is always to be on your best behavior. This doesn’t mean that you can’t show your opinion. But, it means to act upon how you would like to be perceived. If your brand represents THIS, then you can display THIS in your actions.

I had a conversation with another business owner recently. The conversation was based around her recent activity on Facebook. She tried to apologize for the “recent racy content.”

What she didn’t realize, however, that showing a public interest in a subject based upon her role in the community of her target audience will actually allow her brand to be received as a trustworthy persona and build a lasting brand loyalty that will lead to a long enduring tenure of that brand.

It basically all boils down to this: CATER TO YOUR AUDIENCES. If you want to be perceived as an individual for hire, then portray the ideal characteristics of the ultimate employee.

If you are a business, tend to your community of followers and those that you want to target in “giving them what they want” and do not give them a reason to think otherwise. This means to be consistent, persistent and show interest in that particular characteristic.

Like in previous blogs, I would like you to think of a respectable business person, public figure or entertainer. They all have something about them that stands out, correct? This is something that is overemphasized in creating a character perception of them.

Now, look at those characteristics that aren’t “front row and center” in their persona. These characteristics do not conflict with the public perception of that brand. Contradictory elements will keep that brand from being accepted, in turn, they will more than likely remain unsuccessful.

Think of an artist that may be perceived as a “thug” or “boss.” To find out that they were once on the opposite side of the law and never really this “thug” or “boss,” we change our persona of that artist.

True fans will stay loyal. Those are those who really have learned to love the brand’s product and really could care less. But, others have lost respect for that artist. This leads to lower ROIs and less money in our bank accounts.

Keeping realism with your brand or YOU as an individual (BrandYou) and implementing the archetype you have selected for it, you will keep anyone from doubting your mission, vision or even track record. Which means, more often what you say will be taken at face value, respected and believed. If you go slightly off track, we know something is wrong. If you go “left” in your action, we start speculating, assuming and looking for a discrepancy in ALL actions and statements made by your brand.

It all really boils down to the ethics of your brand, professionalism and catering to your audiences. As long as you can be perceived as professional, you are entitled to your opinion.

If you feel you will offend someone, start by giving a disclosure and allowing them to understand your point or opinion… As yourself, how you have gotten to this ideal or interest?

If it is a fellow business person, they more than likely will understand already. As a matter of fact, they may reach out to you in liaising to these markets in cross promotions or future campaigns. They may just send you business or point you in the direction of that business, especially since you may not be competition due to the catering of different audience types.

Stay true to yourself, your brand, and consistency. You will be fine!

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Lack of Social: So Many Businesses are STILL Doing it Wrong!

Shorty Produksins is Internet Marketing Orlando. Brand Social.

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According for the Center for Media Research and The Chief Marketing Officer Council in its latest release of industry information: “When asked what elements in the media mix were being localized to address local market segments or better drive interactions at the local level, marketers are focused on localizing strategy, segmentation and messaging (68%) and direct mail and emails (53%). However, fewer than 50% of respondents are focusing on localized media buys, social media interactions, website or even adjusting sales literature or collateral.” Those targeted in the first two groups are based on an already established client base and list of potential consumers collected by businesses on the local level.

If you notice, everything related to actual Internet Marketing and Social Media Marketing is grouped into one item. To boot, there isn’t much of a budget or energy set aside to really take advantage of such powerful tools. In essence, they’re spending money on the strategy and messaging to be compelling, but not using it where it is most effective! This is when they complain that “SOCIAL” simply does not work.

A job done half mass will be a job done “half-_______ed.” Let that resonate the next time you’re involved in a marketing plan. So many put only little effort into their Social Branding and realize that it’s going nowhere.

In reality, they have a stagnant Facebook Like Page that only Brand Loyalists are stumbling upon and liking. Likewise, the brand’s Twitter account is doing just as well while following 500+ “tweeters” and gaining less than 50 actual followers.

Their mistake is the lack of engagement. After all, what good is messaging with no conversation? If there is no interesting content to be shared or repeated, no one will share or repeat it. It’s as easy as that and nothing less to be said.

The Center for Media Research also reported that “despite 59% of national marketers noting that local demand generation was essential to their business growth, only 7% feel they have highly evolved campaigns and measures in place that can activate consumers at a local level.” It’s obvious that some get it. But, it’s sadly pathetic how so many simply do not.

Not to burst any bubbles, but hiring a High School Student or College Freshman isn’t enough either. There needs to be some type of strategy set in line. True, “fresh ideas” are wonderful to have on the team for ideas and content distribution. But, there has to be a strategic call to action set in line. What is the message needed to get across time and time again? What is being sold? How will we convince others to do what we want them to?

We spoke of Internet Marketing as separate from “SOCIAL” earlier. It truly is. Let’s address this now:

Internet Marketing is a broad categorization of multiple marketing channels and styles done within the world of the Internet. There, of course, are subcategories that also branch out into other realms of the marketing mix. Internet Marketing can be summed up as “content and content placement.” Words can be consumed as content. In essence, they are exactly that. Videos, pictures and audio are all the same — content. Where and how it is placed and displayed for awareness is also part of Internet Marketing.

Some people don’t understand the scientifics behind Internet Marketing. All content is a plausible cause for SEO tactic. Defend your placement in search engines and bring awareness to your brand by naming your content, using search terms within your copy and in finding organic results. Organic results happen automatically. However, paid results are just as important. These also help your placement in search engines. Yes, it is all one large algorithm… One that must be understood.

Backlinks, link pyramids, link wheels, blogs, tags, and many other Internet Marketing elements all help a brand’s presence on the net. These are like hand grenades, gutting knives, and darts in defending against and combatting competition on the net!

The littlest things can and will matter. These things MUST be implemented into Social Branding, as well as within company websites, Youtube channels and so on.

There must be consistency. In fact, the Law of Consistency, as explained by authors Al and Laura Ries in “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding,” is very important to branding as a marketing strategy on any platform — Online or off. Don’t think for one minute that Google hasn’t been programmed to understand this.

There are many reasons why more of a budget needs to be set aside for Internet Marketing and Social Branding in separate categories. Again, hiring students to complete work for the company’s Social Presence is a great idea. But, there must also be professionals on the team getting their hands dirty if a social garden is expected to thrive.

If you are going to invest a dollar into your branding, what is an extra fifty cents if it triples your return and leaves a lasting impression on your consumers? Think about it.

Speaking of consumers, let’s address them real fast. How much of a budget are you putting aside for customer relationship building and customer service? Do you have any particular way of communications with them available around the clock?

The world of media has changed the way we do business. “Always On” culture has changed the way we seek customer service and retain those customers seeking our servicing.

It’s safe to assume that our business hours aren’t always convenient for our consumers who may also be working or busy with children in those hours. After hours may be the only time they have available to reach us. E-mail correspondences, while easily accessible, may take days to address simple fixes, and not always will someone be able to answer the phone to answer hard to ask questions.

Did you know, in customer service and technical support, the same questions are addressed over and over again? So, why not plan for this in the marketing mix? Hiring and training students to work after hours (when many will be wide awake and available), might be one way to cut back on “social” costs because they are only needed on demand but very important in customer retention.

ddressing customer relations in a social forum, while keeping private conversations private, content is created and a solution has been addressed to unexpected and common problems encountered with our servicing and platforms.

Being brutally honest, some consumers will be too lazy or proud to reach out for help. Let’s use monitoring tools to find out their difficulties with our services and products and reach out to them!

Let’s get involved in their conversations and sway negative conversations into testimonies and positive reviews. After all, Word of Mouth Marketing is always going to be the most effective form of marketing. The reason behind this is Brand Loyalty of our trusted friends and family will gain our interests over some advertisement thrown in our face to sell us something.

Similarly, dampening negative conversation about our brand helps dramatically, because negative feedback is twice as damaging as no feedback at all!

Let’s find out true opinions based on customer experience and find out what isn’t working for our brand, why they aren’t “funneling correctly,” and why they are dissatisfied with our products — and listen to them. Making changes surrounding the concerns of our customers is the way to go. After all, the goal is bringing them an end product that they can’t live without. This is how a brand will endure the tough times that every business battles when the economy slows down.

Understanding that social means interaction and keeping our consumer bases (potential and existing) are key to thriving in today’s overly saturated markets, it is mind-boggling that only 28% percent of marketers are event implementing their consumers’ opinions and needs into the marketing mix! This includes monitoring, conversation, customers support and aggregation!

Furthermore, only 6% are actually including IT and engineers into their strategy. Do they not understand the importance of SEO, customer reporting and analysis of data!? True, some data will never be able to be collected in a full spectrum due to the restraints of Cross-Platform Technologies and privacy laws, but there are some things in business that risks are worth taking — especially if you know it is needed.

So, why isn’t more collaboration taking effect? Why are dollars being wasted outsourcing for data analysis and research when it is already available at our fingertips? Why aren’t we splurging areas of our budgeting on Social Media Marketing and Internet Marketing necessities where we stand to see most of our return on investment? Why don’t we allow our existing Social Branding efforts to coexist as customer retention, conversation and support?

Re-adjusting budgets in 2013 and forward is a must! Not only will funding expand to broaden our possibilities, but funding can be set aside to implement Mobile Marketing Strategies to take effect immediately.

Mobile Marketing is social at our fingertips. It is more personal than any other form of marketing out there! But, guess what: Very few brands have begun to take advantage of this, and that is where many are falling behind. “Brand Socially” and see how much of the conversation takes place mobilly.

So, you don’t have a mobile app. But, Facebook does. Twitter does. LinkedIn does. Google is the default for mobile Android browsers. Take advantage of this… NOW! Don’t be a faulty statistic. Make social work for you!

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