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Google Suggest & Your Reputation

I have to tell this story. Nigel Swaby and I were going to interview Pounder’s Grill in Salt Lake City Utah about their social media success last week. I’m fascinated by the expansion of restaurants in Utah and the common thread of the ones I know of, is that they use social media. Mo Bettah Stakes, Smashburger, Pounder’s and other restaurants are thriving in a tough economy and opening new locations in Utah while so many are closing. I wanted to explore the correlation between their growth and how they engage their audience through social media.

But it didn’t happen. Why? This gets interesting. One of the owner’s of Pounder’s Googled Nigel’s name. Or perhaps it was Google Suggested his name. In 2006 Nigel wrote about and befriended and controversial figure Casey Serin during the real estate boom. That was enough to cancel the interview. Note that Nigel didn’t actually do anything wrong.

If you start typing my name into Google you’ll see that it says “Janet Thaeler Smashburger” which means that people have searched for that phrase. Yes even though I have been writing about online PR and internet marketing for over 5 years, Smashburger is what people have linked with my name (in searches). Thankfully it’s tame, not something not true but making me look bad, or someone with my name that is a convict. Janet Thaeler isn’t easy to spell or remember but it is unique.

Thankfully there is only 1 video I know of that could haunt me – I wouldn’t want it to show up when I’m running for pubic office. But when I was in college no one I knew was snapping photos and posting them online.  It wasn’t as easy as it is now. My phone didn’t have a camera. I didn’t even have a cell phone. But my son’s generation – that is a fact of life. Cell phones will get cheaper and more powerful and most things will be mobile. We must assume that anything we do could be posted and shared with the world – and yes – show up in search results when someone searches on our name. FOREVER.

I just heard Marty Cooper, inventor of the cell phone say this on 60 Minutes,: “Sorry, privacy is a thing of the past…” That means that your mistakes, associations, guilty or not are there for anyone to see. It also means that we’ll know that no one is perfect and it will be harder to escape your past.

You are what Google, Facebook and Twitter say you are (or whatever tools will be in vogue). What we really need to be private is our financial information – but the rest of it is up for grabs. Even if you don’t sign up to be online – there is no opt-out. I like how Chris Brogan puts it that you can delete your Facebook profile – just like you can opt-out of the cash society. Nigel reminded me that the phone book (while the reach is much more limited) is opt-out too. You are there with your name, your address and phone. You have to pay to have it removed.

Privacy is outdated. Anything you do can be used against you online. That’s why trust is such a big deal – because the internet is still the wild west where anything goes. We want to know who we can trust and who we cannot trust. Sometimes that decision will be made based on such tenuous things as the words that are associated with your name in Google Suggest. While I like the concept of transparency we cannot bury Google Suggest results – nor do we have any control over what they show. That’s more disconcerting. That point was driven home this week.

Utah: Social Media Expert Chris Brogan to Speak on Tuesday

The Women Tech Council has invited 3 social media experts (who happen to be men) to speak in Salt Lake City on May 11. That is on Tuesday. It’s a half day conference that you should not miss if you are in marketing. You heard Seth Godin, now it’s time to hear Chris Brogan. He’s one of the biggest names in the industry.

Speakers:

Price of admission includes breakfast and 2 books: Trust Agents by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith and Six Pixels of Separation by Mitch Joel. This will also be a good time to network with other social networking geeks like me, Josh Peters, Pete Codella and Nigel Swaby. Yes, even women like Carina W., Kelly Anderson, Jyl Pattee, and Marie LeBaron.

Register Now

This Tuesday, May 11
7:30-8:30 a.m.
Registration and Breakfast Networking

8:30am-12:00 p.m. Speakers and roundtable Q&A

Location:
Noah’s
322 West 11000 South
South Jordan, UT 84095 USA

Event Cost: $65 for members, $75 for non-members
Sponsorship opportunities and group discounts are available.

I hope I’ll see you there! In the meantime here’s a taste of what’s coming:

Social Media for Small Businesses – Is it Effective?

The Twitter fail whale error message.
Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I was a panelist for the Salt Lake City Social Media Club. We talked about small business marketing and PR. Right before leaving I read my friend Chris‘s tweets from a SEMPO (a search engine marketing organization) webinar he was listening to:

  1. SEMPO: On average, companies expect to spend 43% more on SEO in 2010 than they did in 2009. We can help @seocom 🙂
  2. SEMPO: Most important trends in digital marketing: Video, local search, personalized search, and mobile.
  3. SEMPO: Most companies social media strategy consists of an FB page and Twitter account. 11% use myspace. 16% Wikipedia. 
  4. SEMPO: 50% of companies say social media has had impact on business. 27% report no impact. 10% report “huge” impact.
  5. SEMPO: 38% of companies have a hard time making business case for continued investment in social media. I think that number is low.
  6. SEMPO: 42% of companies surveyed have hard time measuring SEO ROI. Fail. SEO ROI is easier to measure than most marketing methods.
  7. According to SEMPO 62% using social media to measure brand awareness, which – IMO – is incredibly difficult to measure. Disconnect? ROI?
  8. SEMPO: Companies are struggling to figure out how to maximize their social media efforts. Most are confused over strategy. 
  9. SEMPO: 51% of companies use social media to increase brand awareness and manage reputation. 16% use it for lead generation.
  10. SEMPO: 53% of companies surveyed use Bing paid search network – stealing market share from Yahoo. Google Adwords still rules. 
  11. SEMPO: 30% of companies surveyed moving budget money away from radio advertising to SEO
  12. SEMPO: 69% of companies surveyed shifting newspaper and magazine print ad dollars to SEO budgets
  13. SEMPO: Only 13% of companies plan to double or more than double their social media budget in 2010 compared to 2009.

This doesn’t paint a great picture for social media, but it does for SEO. But I do have to note that the source is a search engine marketing company. I also work for an SEO company – OrangeSoda. We do social media consulting – because having active profiles on social networks is good for search results – because search engines look for fresh content.

What I pointed out yesterday is that the problem for small businesses is that social media is a HUGE time commitment. It’s an ongoing commitment. You’ve got to be consistently involved. Even though some purists say not to, I say use every tool available to make it easier. If that’s too much, then maybe working with people who are active may be a better choice than joining in.

In an article about social media for small businesses on CNN it says,

“Maintaining constant, and genuine, dialogue with customers who are on the Internet around-the-clock can be both time consuming and exhausting, requiring extra resources that small companies may not have.”

– Matthew Yeomans, director of UK-based social media strategy firm Custom Communication.

Stephen Leighton, owner of “Has Bean Coffee,” a UK-based Internet coffee-roasting business that has a worldwide following. How? with social media. But look at the time commitment for his results: “he spends up to 17 hours a day, seven days a week, updating his coffee video blog, talking to audiences on Twitter and responding to every email he receives.”

That’s several thousand $$ (I figure about $7-9k on the low end) a month in time spent. Plus it’s not good for relationships  to work those kind of hours (you’re probably sacrificing your family and social life). I wonder if it’s bringing that kind of return. Also, how much would that same business spend on advertising in a month? Does this replace that budget or is all the budget being spent on social media?

I’m not saying that everyone must contribute that much time – but it gives you an idea that it’s going to be hours. If you don’t have a lot to say, don’t know what you want to accomplish and can’t measure the impact, is it worth it? Probably not. But if you have a lot to say and need a platform to reach your customers and you want to engage with them or answer their questions, social media can be ideal. Whether it’s worth your time is a question every business must answer.

For some, social media is a silver bullet, but for most it’s another marketing tool (though a pretty fun one). For me, social media made my entire career. Without my blog and Twitter very few people would know who I am. But because of the exposure it’s given me I’ve built a reputation, gotten jobs, written a book, launched businesses, etc. Plus I’ve loved doing it. I found it hard to stop. Hours would fly by.

Social media can do the same for your business as it has for me – put you on the map and build your reputation and visibility.

If you are a small business how has social media helped you? Or, if you haven’t gotten involved, why not?

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PRNewswire on the Las Vegas Strip

I’m in Las Vegas for a vacation this week staying near the Fashion Show Mall. It has the huge rotating ad video screens outdoors. There are often iPod ads. I expected iPad ads – but haven’t seen any yet.

Last night as we left a show I heard the words of the ad mentioning PRNewswire. Then turning the corner I saw the ads. It rotated stories from press releases, along with news images. It was awesome. I know this isn’t the best picture, but you get the idea. I’m so curious if it’s worth the investment to advertise – since it’s usually consumer products not business that’s advertised there.

Incidentally we stayed at Treasure Island, then at the Wynn (what a view!!). I love the Wynn except for the $30 fee to use the gym and the prices on all food (mostly worth it but not every time – the $50 light lunch was ok). Generally speaking Steve Wynn has amazing taste and you can count on everything to be good (we should’ve skipped room service at Treasure Island & gotten it here instead). We’ve hopefully walked enough to work off the calories eaten.

Anyway, my point is we also got to go into the Fashion Show Mall to the Apple store long enough for me to play with the new iPad. It made me wish I’d skipped my Kindle (which I’ve loved) and wait for the iPad.  I think it could be a business expense (like the press releases I write), right?

On Giving Referrals

I like referring people to people who…

  1. Follow up with the contact right away –same day.
  2. Keep their word. Especially if they take money from the person I referred, they will complete the work and do it well.
  3. Treat the people I refer with respect.
  4. Refer people back to me (when it makes sense). For example, I referred some people who needed someone to help them learn LinkedIn to get business leads to Todd Colbeck. Then he taught them to go to me to send out a press release about the sales tools they built to attract new customers.

My husband is a financial planner who refers A LOT of business to a mortgage broker. The guy is so incredibly good at his job that he makes my husband look good for referring him. He’s one of the top sellers in the country for good reason. He knows so much in an industry that is so dynamic. But he also does something that I love. When he does a refinance and saves someone A LOT of money on their monthly payments, do you know what he does? Yes, he sends the same people back to my husband to invest the money they’re saving for the future. I love it.

I have recently referred someone who didn’t keep his word – not with me and not with a friend I referred to him. I have referred people to someone who was really good at what he does but treated people with mistrust. He could even be abusive. I didn’t realize that until after I’d worked with him a while.

Making a good referral can be difficult. People might be good at one thing and not another (so they may be brilliant and marketing but be flaky at showing up to planned events). So set yourself (and them) up to succeed by referring them only for what they are good at.

I’m reading a new book that I’m already going to say is worth getting. It’s from John Jantsch of “Duct Tape Marketing,” and it’s called, “The Referral Engine” and it’s a book that needed to be written. Referrals are important and should not be left to chance. I’ll tell you more next week when I review the book on OrangeSoda’s blog.

Smashburger’s Social Media Success

Hamburger is a very common food in the United ...

Image via Wikipedia

I just wrote an article for American Express OPEN Forum about Smashburger and how they’re using social media to open new restaurants. They did an Eat & Tweet in Draper, Utah and a lot of my friends attended (@Paco_Belle @JoshSPeters @iGoByDoc).

I asked Alexis at PR firm Lola Red PR who planned the event some questions, here they are:

How many people attended? About 25 individuals from the Salt Lake City social media sphere attended the opening of Smashburger in Draper, UT.

How did you find/choose them?
For our Draper, UT opening we did extensive outreach to the social media community via web searches and traditional networking among local social media mavens. Smashburger maintains a Twitter handle for Salt Lake City (@smashburgerslc) and is daily communication with local social media circles.

Can you give me an idea of the results/how the new store is doing or what results you can attribute to social media outreach. (do you measure # of tweets, mentions, comments, blog posts, pictures posted, foot traffic, etc?).

The Twitter account for the Salt Lake City stores has received a large number of mentions comments and DMs since the event. There have been an extremely large number of blog posts with photos and many guests have mentioned seeing them. The social media community in Salt Lake City and in many other communities have embraced Smashburger’s use of social media which is evident in our followers and mentions.

Do you have a list of links to the grand opening event that I could include?

http://www.sassyscoops.com/food/review-smashburger/

Smashburger has a Utah-only hamburger called the Beehive burger. How did people like the Beehive burger in particular?

The response to our Beehive burger was very positive. We also feature a grasshopper shake on the Utah menu. Our classic Smashburger is our #1 seller in the market. The Beehive burger is extremely popular is typically the second or third most popular on the menu.

Thanks Alexis!

I found out about the event after Nigel Swaby and I interviewed Josh Peters on www.WebMarketingWeeklyShow.com about his book TwittFaced about Twitter. He told us about Smashburger on the show. (Listen at http://recordings.talkshoe.com/TC-75648/TS-324908.mp3 and find past episodes at – a weekly podcast for small business owners.)

What I like most about Smashburger is that they are social – they do participate and build social media into their marketing plan. It’s not an afterthought and it’s fully endorsed and understood by their founder Tom Ryan.They don’t have specifics on how it’s impacted their business – like many companies they are banking on the effort of reaching their customers and talking and listening to them will pay off. If it’s anything like this social media case study with a cafe – it does.

Thanks for your time Tom and everyone who participated. Now it’s time for me to stop writing about them and get there to try a Smashburger!

Janet Thaeler – Speaking Engagements

I wanted to let you know where I’ll be speaking next. I really should put out press releases for these, but there’s no time lately.

Every week at 2pm MST on Wednesdays I interview people with Nigel Swaby for our podcast called the Web Marketing Weekly Show. It’s secretly how I get to know amazing people. So if you want to be interviewed please contact us on the site. (www.webmarketingweeklyshow.com).

I’m speaking at the Mountain West Regional Public Relations Conference for PR students at Utah State University on Friday March 26. Then later that afternoon I’ll be off to Podcamp at Neumont University in South Jordan, Utah. I need to learn what they are teaching (because I’m podcasting).

Monday March 29th I’ll speak at the Utah Student Summit on a social media panel at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. This is also for students.

This summer I’ll speak at the EVO conference for women in social media (www.evoconference.com). More details coming.

I’m speaking on how to pitch a search engine at this Ragan conference hosted by Cisco Systems June 9-11, 2010 in San Jose California.

See this is what happens when you write a book. I used to be petrified but now I’m pretty comfortable with it. I especially love the enthusiasm of most college groups I’ve spoken to.

  • Will your Press Release Lead to Press Coverage? (onlineprbook.com)
  • Dramatically Increase Traffic by Adding a Photo to Your Press Release (onlineprbook.com)
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Is Tweeting your News to Journalists on Twitter Effective?

I’m addicted to LinkedIn lately. I asked this question and got so many answers.

Have you ever found success tweeting your news to journalists on Twitter?

I was looking for people who have gotten news coverage because of a tweet. I also want to know if people had found success using a paid service like Muckrack. PR Newswire will tweet your press release for $75 and PRWeb will for free (at the $200 level and above).

Google now ranks tweets in search results and the higher authority the person who tweets the better it is for your rankings.

I’m also curious if anyone has ever used a paid service to reach journalists on Twitter. One service is Muckrack: http://muckrack.com/press_releases

PR Newswire charges $75 to tweet your news. PRWeb does it free. Have you used these services? Is it worth it?

Google now ranks tweets in search results and the higher authority the person who tweets the better it is for you…

Here are some insights that I got back:
Mahr from Microsoft says they do short interviews of their CEO on Twitter that gets them coverage:

“we use at Microsoft twitter to do interviews (twitterviews) with our CEO and other specialists of the department and we often get a good coverage on newspaper or magazines.”

Kristopher who does PR for ARUP Laboratories has had some success pitching on Twitter:

“We got a product write-up in BusinessWeek online for a very big client last year. We built a twitter page for our product as it was launching at CES and then targeted the industry as well as media. Just getting that coverage in BusinessWeek was a success to me.

I have pitched other reporters through twitter with varying success, either outright ignoring my pitches or replying kindly that they weren’t interested. Robert Scoble has a friendfeed room designed specifically for pitching him, and he really responds…

It’s a good venue for reaching out to the media because it circumvents the gatekeepers, and in that light I think PR people need to understand how twitter and other platforms work. (Even so, when a writer takes a story idea, they usually still have to clear it with their editor.) But it’s not the place to build a strong, lasting relationship with the media, I think that it can be an ice breaker, but email or phone call or face to face are the best places to build lasting relationships.”

Tonya who is an adjunct professor gave a great tip – to set up keyword searches on Twitter:

“I’ve used Twitter to reach out to journalists and bloggers, schedule interviews, and follow up to their requests. I wouldn’t use a paid or automated service, but I do set up keyword searches on Twitter and follow relevant journalists. Then when the opportunity comes, I’m already there.”

Melissa, a wellness expert said a tweet led to an interview:

“I don’t personally tweet links to press releases but I have had editors from Better Homes and Gardens and Parents Magazine interview me because of a specific tweet that I sent offering a wellness tip.

I also always tweet out my media coverage – you never know who is watching!

I made a list of several national media members on twitter if you’d like to follow. It’s mostly lifestyle oriented.”

She has a Twitter list that includes journalists: http://www.twitter.com/casseracomm

Now it’s your turn to answer – had any luck using Twitter to pitch stories?

New Small Business Web Marketing Podcast

Today was episode 1 of a new venture – the Web Marketing Weekly Show. It’s a 30 min. podcast every Wednesday – live. Nigel Swaby of SEO by Swaby is my co-host. Today we talked about online press releases and our successes with clients.

Here’s how it works: we discuss a web marketing topic with each other or bring in guests. Then we briefly talk about something in the industry – news. Then we’ll read IM messages, emails and take calls – basically answer questions or give advice. We hope you’ll join us. It’s not formal and we have a fun time.

Check out the web site which will materialize and include our schedule as we go: www.webmarketingweeklyshow.com and check out our first episode about press release success stories and Superbowl ads – the ads that ran and the ones that didn’t.

  • Online PR Podcast Interviews Janet Thaeler (newspapergrl.com)
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I’m a Reporter – Thanks to CNN iReport

I used to borrow my grandma’s video camera, put on her wig and wear her business suit and pretend I was the news anchor. I made my cousins cover sports and weather. Today I’m a reporter for real! (just like I’m a PR pro for real).

CNN has a feature called iReporter that lets anyone put up news stories. Not only is this good from an SEO or reputation standpoint – it’s fun. I grab my video camera and I’m making news. News that I tweet about and let reporters on Twitter know about.

So first I had to find some news. My first story was today and it’s about how the economy spelled doom for a troubled local bank. Barnes Bank Closed after 119 Years in Business. It was quite an event in this small town. I went to interview some folks. I must say that the police were super nice – which I needed to see about now.

I’m on the lookout for news now – hopefully I can get some at the Sundance Film Festival or even at Affiliate Summit this weekend.