Digital Marketing Done Properly in the New Age

I suppose it’s coincidence that this post appears almost exactly one year after Blue Bugle went sort of inactive. Today, the blog doesn’t enjoy as many readers as it once used to. This unfortunate thing is due to my hectic schedule in my new day job as senior content writer for an organization called MSys. This job gives me more opportunities to explore the separate aspects of the digital marketing domain. In the past, all we used to do was promoting our blog posts through social media at random thereby trying to gather as many visitors as possible. You never studied the prospects, the market, or the social channels you promote your stuff to.  Most of the SEO companies out there prided themselves in creating spammy blog comments to create links to client websites. Needless to say, most of these plans never worked or had less positive impact. Now, if you follow the same spammy activities, you are sure to get a ban at best.

I had to come up with a new marketing plan for MSys that incorporated careful study of the market, ways to approach customers in a more efficient manner, ways to promote our site on search engines, and ways to promote our stuff to social media. This plan involved several steps, and it somehow taught me new ways to become effective in search engines and social media. This post is an afterthought of this marketing plan.

Let’s take a brief look at how digital marketing emerged in the last decade. This is essentially a brief history of SEO and SMO too. First of all, the basis of digital marketing is a website. Today, a company cannot survive without a website, can it? Even small-time bloggers like us have prolific websites; so, a company does indeed need a website. It has to be properly designed for clients to get an idea of what the company is into.

Website Design

In the ‘90s and the first part of the last decade, you simply cannot find really good-looking websites unless they belong to the biggies. Go to the (random018) and look at some of the websites they had back then. I wanted to see the transition, so I took a look at a really well designed modern website and went back to the beginning of the millennium to see how it used to be. Here’s it. I am sure everybody would agree Apple has a really good-looking website. Here is its site back in 2000—Feb 26 to be exact (the date is visible right above that hot news ticker).

See how awkward the website used to be back then. It’s quite apparent that the design standards have changed drastically in the last few years. Today, the most important part of web design is responsiveness. The main reason why a website has to be responsive is because it gets viewed on all kinds of devices today. One of your customers views your website on his iPhone, while another group views it on a tab twice the size, like the iPad. A website has to scale up properly to display without anomalies on all kinds of devices. It is one of the primary requirements of digital marketing today.

It’s also important that the website be rich with content, multimedia elements, and interactivity. Interactivity is one aspect that the web has quite evolved on. Technologies such as JSON, Java, and Python have been behind those buttons, text boxes, and tabs.

The point is, such unprofessional, ad-studded websites could work back then, but they no longer can. Professional websites look cleaner and simpler today, and most of the startups have such long, filling landing pages, which are such a pleasure to look at. They also load faster. So, the first thing of digital marketing: you need a website that conforms to the best professional standards today. It also has to be properly updated based on the changes in industry standards.

Social Media Presence

Before we check about the search engine optimization part, let’s check out the social media. It has recently become the most important aspect of digital marketing. Back in 2000, do you know which social networks were popular? Probably the first ever social network was Friends Reunited, which started operations in 1998 in the UK. Then in 2000, another social network started operations; you may have heard about it—Friendster. Friendster is the precursor to all these other social networks—MySpace, Orkut, and Facebook. In 2003, briefly MySpace became the most popular social network in the world, and it stayed so until Facebook surpassed all social networks by 2007.

Then the refinement of social media happened, which proved to be a very useful thing for digital marketers. For instance, instead of having three social networks—Friendster, MySpace, and Facebook—for the same thing, we have only one that caters to all needs. And Facebook is far more feature-rich than it used to be. It’s also being developed continuously. Twitter came then, and it soon became the social network for celebrities.

Then it was time for social networks for specific purposes: LinkedIn branded itself as a professional network; while you could share any stuff on LinkedIn, this branding somehow forced professionals to share professional stuff on LinkedIn. Then Google+ became the social network of choice for all sorts of businesses and online content creators. Google Authorship is something you need to read and research about. There are also specialized social networks such as GitHub for programmers and DeviantArt for artists. As a first step of popularizing yourself on social media, identify all the social networks where you can make a presence for your company, and then start working to create a stable presence.

Content Marketing

For digital marketing, content is the most important aspect, is it not? Creating and sharing useful content may be a difficult thing for a small organization with one or two content writers. How can then such an organization excel in content marketing?

One way is analyzing the requirements. Why do you do content marketing? For most marketers, it is to generate more social followers and website traffic. Now, you simply ask the question. What sort of content is especially important to gather followers? The simple formula is analyzing your potential clients and their requirements. In case of my company, the clients are looking for a vendor in storage and cloud sectors. We simply have to identify those clients and share some content already published by them through our social channels. These activities should prompt those companies to follow us. Another aspect that will help you directly network with the decision makers of any company is sharing the content published by the decision makers through your social channels. Also, try to come up with conversations with these people—constructive criticisms may be one way to go.

By sharing others’ content, you have two major benefits: you keep your social media profiles rich with content; you gather interest from the actual content creators, prompting them to follow you. This, however, doesn’t create any traffic advantage to your own site, so it has to be done sparingly and with careful planning. In general, it goes without saying that every piece of content that you create on your website has to be properly shared on your social profiles.

When you create content, give maximum care. There is a way to come up with unique content. It’s research. Unique content is the staple food of digital marketing. Even today, article marketers are creating thin content by copying or rewriting content from other websites. This practice will only get you in the radar of the search giant. So, refrain from this. The recipe of creating unique content is research and asking the right questions. Come up with a unique topic and a unique perspective on that topic. This will give you the incentive to write well. Also important are the grammar, punctuation, and style of your writing. Present your articles with multimedia and interactive elements on a well-designed, approachable website. This is the key to successful content marketing.

Smartphone Marketing

Today, mobile marketing has to be smarter after smartphones surpassed feature phones. There is a large number of mobile marketing tools you can find. Android and iOS devices are with millions of people—millions of prospective customers. Simply speaking, mobile marketing is one of the cornerstones of success today. Identify the best tools you can use for your marketing requirements. A few of them include Swipely, MailChimp, Yelp, Foursquare, etc. You also have the capability to target your potential users through social media apps for these mobile platforms. You need a full-fledged plan to target the smartphone users better.

Search Marketing

Now, SEO is one of the most important aspects of digital marketing. Every website is planned and built to make it rank high on Google. There are a number of on-page and off-page factors that you do to make a website relevant for a search query. This post doesn’t go into the details of these aspects. Only one thing is important when it comes to SEO. Look at your website and ponder whether it’s the best website for a search query that you are targeting. Every time a person searches for a particular keyword, a few websites come up on the first page of Google. Most of these pages provide maximum information and relevant content to the searcher. When this happens, the searcher is likely to stay longer on the website, check out other pages, and share the content on social media. These activities can be facilitated by improving three major aspects of your website: the loading time, the content structure, and the design.

In SEO as well as paid search marketing, you have to present a well-designed, content-rich website, because otherwise Google will never let your site rank on its search. Some people may think they can come up with a spammy website and pay Google to rank it on paid search results. It’s simply not going to happen, because for paid search also, Google has a number of content and structure guidelines which must be followed.

Conclusion

It’s easy to do digital marketing if you follow three important principles: provide value, do not spam ever, look at your work from your prospective customer’s perspective. The third rule of thumb will give you a huge number of opportunities to improve your online presence. The design aspects, social media content, descriptions, keywords, etc., can be tweaked much better in this way.

Online Job Startups: Amazon Mechanical Turk, Sooquini, TaskRabbit, etc., What You Need to Know

[Note: First of all, we are redesigning the format of Blue Bugle. We have not been active for more than a month now. In August, we did not have even one post going. There have been quite a number of technological advancements in that month. We covered none of them, but none of our regular readers missed us still. The reason being, there are no regular readers; probably! We have been trying hard to develop readership by posting honest reviews of products and good advice to smartphone and tablet buyers that you can get nowhere else. Not even on professional technology blogs. Still, we are not gaining readership, because we have been posting only what people feel they can find elsewhere. If they do, there is absolutely no need for Blue Bugle to exist.

Hence, we are changing. From now on, you will get blatant entries on what we really think and know. We are going to be ruthless to anybody that rips you off. We are going to show you what you need to do. We are restructuring the posts. No longer will there be product reviews. No longer introductions, news stories that you find elsewhere, or how-to content that you just don’t need. We will be coming up with things that you can discuss near water coolers. Okay?]

 

A little while back, Amazon, the online retailer-turned-technology company has come up with an idea of fulfilling the chores of people through crowdsourcing. That startup is called Mechanical Turk. It’s still operational. In this service, you can find all kinds of jobs that any average person can do. The payment you can get from the HIT you complete (HIT is a job, expanded as Human Intelligence Task) can be anything from a cent to 23 dollars.

Amazon mechanical Turk

 

What you see is a screenshot of the Mechanical Turk HITs list, for the day. The highest payment offered today is for an audio transcription service, and that is 23 dollars. And yet, in the home page of Amazon Mechanical Turk, there is this slogan floating about, “Make Money (by working on HITs)”.

The payment for each job is undeniably puny and ludicrous, even for a person from the third world. I have no idea who works on these jobs and “makes money”. As one might surmise, the middleman always profits without risk; Amazon does exactly that. What about the job poster and the worker that gets paid? Well, it’s an entirely different story there.

When a person like you or I try to find a work, we look at the options available in the market. Job market is so competitive, and there never is a shortage of competency. There are people who are willing to work for less, but essentially, their skills may not be all that productive. I know of several American small business startups that outsourced most of their work to the inept workers from other countries to save money and get there quickly. Their tactics have more often than not backfired.

In essence, a job is done well when the worker is knowledgeable and experienced. A knowledgeable and experienced worker has to be paid appropriately for his services.

You know well how more important quality is than quantity. Once, there was this US entrepreneur, who started up a small business about coaching higher executives. The entrepreneur then hired an inexperienced person to build links into his website. The payment was far less than usual, and the worker was as inept as anyone. He simply built links from Blogspot blogs and all of those links turned out to be of absolutely no value to the entrepreneur. In the end, his website simply remained there, without achieving any traffic. All he did was lose some money albeit very little money to a worker half the world away.

If you want good quality services, come out and pay well for them. Hire experienced people from good sources of work.

Shun Amazon Mechanical Turk.

If you are a skilled worker, shun Amazon Mechanical Turk, or at least the lowest paying tasks over there.

Sooquini & TaskRabbit

Sooqini logoSooqini

came into existence in London in 2012. This is a tasks marketplace where you can post your tasks and the payment involved. Also, people can offer various tasks and the price for each. Although it is available only in the UK currently, it may be rolled out to other parts of the world soon.

TaskRabbitTaskRabbit is a perfect American counterpart of Sooqini. The service is active in these parts of the
US: Atlanta, GA; Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, TX; Boston, MS; Chicago, IL; Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco Bay Area, CA; NYC; Philadelphia, PA; Portland, ME; Seattle, WA; and Washington DC.

Both of these services are for completing errands—dog walking, cooking, gardening, researching, fixing your AC, etc. Workers can commute online as well. As many other online job systems, these services offer certification for workers, and also allow you to set your own payment terms. Since it is better regulated than some others like mTurk, both the job poster and the worker can get better deals over here.

Things to Consider

 

When you take up a job with any online service, here are the important things to consider. When you try to hire people online to reduce business costs, here are some of the important things to consider.

  • Do not work for less than minimum wage if you are qualified enough to command what you want.
  • Small business owners, if you would like to survive, hire people with experience or the people who know what they are talking about. You can really get good deals with them too at affordable rates.
  • Workers with experience, show off your work and abilities by starting a blog or a website to showcase your talent. You can get more information about starting websites from CreatingSites.org.
  • If you are just in there to make some quick bucks, don’t spam the Internet.
  • Use the social media to your advantage. For business owners and professionals, it’s LinkedIn I am talking about. Twitter doesn’t hurt either.
  • Small business owners, depend only on professional services from professional companies at affordable rates, rather than hiring inept workers from third world thereby saving a ton of your money. Also, be prepared to pay what it takes to bring in talent.
  • Always look for testimonials from your clients. Take in feedback, and display the feedback on your website. If it’s a negative feedback, find what you did wrong and rectify it.
  • Middlemen, create opportunities that are good for both the workers and the job posters. Amazon, close down Mechanical Turk.

 

Conclusion

 

As said above, it is much better for you to find tasks if they pay well. As the minimum wage goes up, if you are a good worker and you know it, you should know that you can command the regular salary. Nobody should have to work for less than minimum wage just because of the competition. It only helps the skilled experienced and non-experienced workers if you command good salaries.

Also, the small business owners, the Internet will be so much better and spam-free if you stop hiring inept people.

A Comparison of Three RSS Readers Out There: Feedly, Digg Reader, AOL Reader

Remember we reported the shutdown of Google Reader a few days back? It used to be one of the Google services that reached a few million people instead of a few hundred millions as Google wants its products to. Hence, the search giant decided to shut down the reader application, putting millions out in the street. We were gladly rescued by a overwhelmingly simple feed reader application known as Feedly.

Feedly

 

Feedly cloud reader

 

Feedly came and conquered. It does have an interface with which you can import all your feed content directly from Google Reader itself. Since it was one of the early adopters of Google Reader refugees, it had a major boost in its traffic and user stats.

With is iOS and Android apps, Feedly beckoned the readers who were desperately looking for a platform to place their feeds. And it worked. The application had a boost in traffic so tremendous that it had to make internal changes.

Alexa traffic stats of Feedly

 

Now the Feedly cloud application goes through regular maintenance and feature updates very frequently. It has a beautiful interface too that is quite a bit inviting.

Feedly color themes

 

Interface and a few options

 

viewing options

 

A number of color themes; various viewing options like Titles, Magazine, Cards, etc.; other options like Twitter and Facebook newsfeed; a finance module with which you can get live stock quotes on selected shares; a way to save the stories to read later; and absolutely easy to use interface make Feedly my favorite feed reader today.

Digg Reader

 

After Digg lost its mojo, it has been struggling quite a bit to get back into the game. Now, it is trying desperately to get some more users with the help of its new Reader application. Digg Reader went live a few hours ago. This reader also lets you import your feeds from Google Reader.

Digg reader page

 

In comparison to Feedly’s reader, this is how Digg interface looks. It does not have many customization options or viewing options. While Feedly does include the favicons of the particular website being added, Digg Reader simply shows that old, drab RSS icon for most of the feeds. The view was also not quite appealing to my eyes. It may just be my opinion.

The reader allows you to connect to your Facebook and Twitter accounts as well. Digg also has a read later feature like Feedly and it works with Pocket, Readability, or Instapaper to bring this feature. While Digg Reader is not quite exciting right now, it is still under development and may come up with more options.

AOL Reader

 

AOL, just like Digg, has rolled out a reader application for its users. The reader is still in the Beta phase, and you can sign up to get into the Beta queue. Due to this reason, we are currently not able to test it out and find its advantages.

AOL reader beta list

 

It seems that most of the features that Feedly already provides are given on AOL reader as well, such as various layout views; tagging options; importing from Google Reader or its OPML file; and an application programming interface (API). Soon to be released are also the iOS and Android apps. When the reader comes alive, we will be able to find out if there is any advantage to it.


[Update]

AOL Reader invite has come up. Here is the first screenshot:

AOL Reader beta

 

You can directly add subscriptions or sign in with your Google account to manage the RSS feeds in Google Reader through AOL Reader. I did sign in with my Google account and imported the feeds.

AOL reader reading in cards view

 

The view options as you can see don't seem to be too bad. It has similar view options as Feedly, List View, Card View, Full View, or Pane View. Pane view is like your Outlook email reader with the list view on the left pane and full view on the right pane.

Themes and settings of the reader are not as extensive as in Feedly. Its color scheme is also pretty drab at best.


 

Conclusion

 

As per our assessment, it seems that Feedly is unquestionably the best RSS reader in the market today. It has all the features and the most elegant user interface that is quite a bit inviting. Also, with its capability to incorporate well with a browser like Chrome, with its Feedly Mini applet, it is quite a bit useful.

Facebook Account Hacking Website Scam

This is just an explanatory article, and we don’t intend to promote any illegal activities like spamming and hacking.

Google “Hack Facebook account” and you will get to this particular website: HackFacebookAccount.org. It is a website that supposedly offers a way to hack a Facebook account.

Now, anybody that has some experience with the Web knows it pretty well that this is simply a scam and there is no way a website like that can hack into Facebook accounts. Still, I would like to show you exactly how the service works to bust the simple myth that many people believe.

1. Go to the website and identify the account

 

First of all, I went into the website, and identified my own Facebook account to hack into. I was presently not logged into my Facebook account. Here it is.

Hacking Facebook account

 

I put in my Facebook account link, and the service correctly identified the account immediately. And it automatically started hacking the account (how very convenient, huh?)

2. Completed!

 

The hacking completed within two minutes right in front of my eyes. The procedure involved displaying various steps of hacking and progress percentage to keep you hooked! And the website promised me I will have access to the password right away!

My Facebook profile successfully hacked

 

I watched it with the ease of watching a movie. Yes! Now, I need to gather the password. For this, the website gave me a user ID and password to access the “limited” members area (not the Facebook password, just a random generated password for HackFacebookAccount.org). I played along, and took a note of this information.

Facebook hack members area

 

3. Retrieving the Password

 

After I logged into the members section, the website again hooked my interest saying “just one more step to go”. And what was that? Sharing!

The website generated a referral URL for me, and wants me to share it with my friends and others. I can get the password, by having at least 15 visits to the referral URL, or by completing a survey (actually an affiliate URL).

A misleading thing they tell you is thus: the site asks you to refer 15 people and then the password information will be unlocked to you. But to unlock it more quickly, you just need to sign up on one of those “surveys”! This is probably the first time I see someone calling affiliate signup links ‘surveys’.

Affiliate signup links

 

OK, so far I was feeling rather stupid, but I played along. I wanted to show you, my readers, where exactly this fraudster is leading us.

Next step: I first decided to do the survey signup, as you know sharing the link and having 15 people visit it is rather time-consuming. I clicked on a survey, and it went through a series of referral URLs to finally land me on a sign up page. I don’t know whether it is a legitimate one or just Phishing. But based on the experience, it is probably a legitimate affiliate signup link that gives commission to the referrer, in this case whoever started HackFacebookAccount.org. On the members area, there was a dialog supposedly tracking my signup.

Survey signup tracker (never updates)

 

I did sign up providing obviously fake information. The referrer will not get any financial benefit from fake information I submitted. I did however use an email address I specifically use for investigations like this. And guess what, even after I signed up and verified the thing, the members area did not update my signup. It simply gave the message

If you have spent more than 5 minutes on this survey and this page is still locked, please try a different survey.

I tried another, and that’s it. It never works!

I decided to do the referral visit thing!

4. Referring Visitors

 

I immediately visited the referral link, and checked the members area, and I found one hit.

Next, I fired up Firefox as I was on Google Chrome, my primary browser. I went into Hidemyass.com and fished out a few proxy IPs.

Hidemyass proxy IPs

 

I filtered the list for fast, secure proxies from all over the world. I put random proxies into Firefox, and started browsing to the referral page.

Proxy configuration on Firefox

 

As I went on, the members area of HackFacebookAccount started counting the number of visits I made to the link. It did apparently miss quite a few, but I was persistent.

Visit count on Facebook hack page

 

Now, about to crack to the 14th visit, I noticed something. The members area was reluctant to count the visits. It missed too many. I might have crossed about 20 visits, when the members area actually updated my visit count. I thought this was it! The members area will simply ignore my further visits.

But I was persistent. I did some 25 visits, and then checked back. It was there! 15/15 visits.

Final Visit count on Facebook hacked

 

Now, it’s time to see my own password? I clicked on the button that said “View Facebook Login Detail” and guess what? It went back to “complete the following survey” option.

What we understand is this. The website never gives you the information. It obviously misleads you saying you can immediately get the information needed by completing a survey, while if you choose the referral visit option, you are again gonna do the affiliate sign up. In essence, you are never going to get any information from them. With the referral promotion, you may simply give this scammer a few visitors to his website.

Conclusion

 

This is a fake web service simply trying to make some money on affiliate programs. Scams like this are all around us, and trusting users always fall prey for them. This is just one website, and there are others who deploy the same tactic to have you sign up on affiliate programs.

If you are a Facebook user, do not worry that these websites and programs exist. As long as you don’t divulge important information about your account to others, you are safe. Read how you can be smart on Facebook.

Related:

Recovering Hacked Facebook Accounts
Report Scammers!

Be Smart on Facebook

facebook logo
Facebook is the largest social network, and hence it is practically understood why people want to capitalize on its one billion users. Many of Facebook’s users are in the upper side of the economy and could be potential buyers of products and services. Hence, companies create Facebook pages and try to reach potential audience by asking people like you to comment and like these pages. This will make sense to you if you know the concept of viral marketing.

Viral marketing works just like how a virus spreads through your body—it is automatic and highly accelerated. In the same way, when you like a particular page on Facebook, you are actually recommending that page to all of your friends. They will be able to see this page on your profile page and timeline. Going further, if you have fifty friends in Facebook, the page you like reaches fifty people and by mere chance five out of those fifty may like the page. If each of these five people has fifty friends, the page will reach a wider audience of 250 people, out of which several more people may like the page. This spreads virally across Facebook’s network reaching a lot of people in a lot less time.

In reality, a well-constructed Facebook profile page could reach thousands of people in days and pile up ‘like’s and comments.

When you genuinely like a particular page, image, or a link, you should ‘like’ it in Facebook, and it will be propagated through your friends. It’s a good thing to do. On the other hand, I have noticed people simply going ahead and liking every page and image they find on Facebook. You should ask yourself if this is a good thing to do.

The Like Button

 

the like button

I am not going to explain what the ‘Like’ button does. It’s fairly understood by all by now. In fact there was a report (more like a speculation) in NYTimes that talks about the inner workings of the Like button.

In essence, the Like button can track your details and send it to Facebook, even if you don’t click on it. This is the reason why you see advertisements on Facebook to be highly relevant. If you are a movie buff and you visit several movie fan pages on Facebook, then Facebook will serve mostly movie-based ads on your sidebar. The data about how much you like movies is provided by the Like button of course.

Although Facebook has a privacy policy that clearly states no data will be tracked by the Like button, many experts do not trust this.

In reality, the Like button that advertisers and marketers use to promote their pages can gain a lot of visits and revenue if they can make a lot of people like their pages. Also, by speculation, this could be deemed as an attack toward your online privacy.

The same is the case with other Facebook engagement features, such as ‘Recommend’ button, ‘Send’ button, etc.

Your Online Profile & Reputation

 

Let’s imagine you liking every page you find out there and recommending it to your friends and coworkers. How much of your judgment should they trust after a while?

Imagine if you like every brand of a tech gadget out there. Do you think any of your friends will ever ask your opinion about a particular brand? In the same way, if you continue to like images that add no value to you or others, what kind of a message does that send to your contacts?

In your Facebook friends list, you may have your close friends as well as acquaintances (that may include your boss, senior workplace officials, etc.) Your friends may not misjudge you based on your likes and recommendations. What about your acquaintances? Do you want to make yourself stupid in front of these people?

One of the recent marketing gimmicks I found is thus: the marketer may simply post an image or a video with a comment like this “Type ***** and then press Like/Share button and see what happens to this video/image”. This sort of messages and shares go viral within days piling up thousands of likes and recommends.

Now, as a prolific Facebook user you probably know that nothing is going to happen to an image or a video if you share or like it. But still people continue to do this no matter what! This sort of marketing technique is simply dishonest, and it can make you look stupid to your friends.

What to Like?

 

When you find a page about a favorite movie star or film, there is nothing wrong in liking it. But hold. Before liking that particular page, why don’t you explore the page a little bit? The page about your favorite movie star has to be the genuine page created by the star himself or his officials. If you see something like ‘no official affiliation to the star’ then is there any reason for you to like that page?

Anybody can create a Facebook page about anything. It’s completely free and easy to set up, just like a website. It is hence your responsibility to monitor what you come across and understand the meaning behind it. In essence, be that intelligent person who can read between the lines, okay?

Conclusion

 

Facebook is a social network and kind of an important service today. Nearly one billion users make Facebook relevant to advertisers, media, companies, and individuals. It has also become a hub of spammers and people employing dishonest tactics to manipulate users. Staying away from such tactics require you to know about them and judge them intelligently.