We've Launched a School

Well, sort of.

The first phase of our ongoing development of our social media training school has been finalized. Earlier this week, we unveiled the modest blog you can find over at SocialMediaSchools.com. We're still working out the kinks, but as you will quickly notice, we have recruited quite the team of social media strategists to assemble content, articles, training materials, and case studies to better help you with your social media management goals.

I cannot iterate enough just how early we are in the building process. Our intentions with this project is to create a legitimate and reputable social media online training outlet. Actually, we aspire to create THE social media training outlet online.

With our school, not only will you learn social media, but you will be a part of a social media community unlike any other. We'll be conducting brainstorming discussions, mastermind calls, forum and support chats, and last but not least, gig procurement assistance, as a part of your membership to the school(s).

As you go through the future modules that you will find over at EndaSchools.com, you will earn badges and credentials that you will get to embed on your own sites to display just how much of a social media master you have become. What better way to get more clients or to land the big in-house position with a Fortune 500 than to show off your new found social media knowledge publicly.

We hope you check out SocialMediaSchools.com in its current infancy state and watch us as we grow this concept from the ground up. We will be launching the social media training platform in early 2012, so be prepared to apply for a spot in the very near future.

I'm super excited for what's to come and I hope you are as well.

A Letter To a New Business on Twitter

To __________,

I've been following you on Twitter. I know you're not taking it too seriously right now, and when the time comes, you'd probably want to outsource management of the account to me anyway, but I wanted to give you a quick crash course on how to leverage it effectively for the time being.

Businesses need to use Twitter for "pulling," not "pushing." The old school of thought in business and marketing was to "push" out content, usually a sales pitch of some sort, and hope for the best. Traditionally, that worked. On a "social" network, however, it tends to have an adverse effect. Businesses that don't know any better continuously post information about themselves that nobody cares about and they continue to sit on a lonely island because of it.

The best way to attract more interest and eyeballs is to engage. This is best accomplished by "pulling" in content. In other words, try logging on to Twitter as a reader, or a company wanting to learn something. Use search.twitter.com to search for keywords relevant to your industry, use wefollow.com to find influencers in your area, and follow everybody that you deem fit. From there, retweet their meaningful tweets and send @ replies to anybody that you want to ignite a conversation with. A quality Twitter timeline should have plenty of @ symbols running through it. Otherwise, you look like a boring one-way business that is trying to sell me something. Who would want to follow an account like that? Would you?

Think about who your demographic is and what is most relevant to you as a business and get out there. The more conversations you have, the more memorable you will become.

Guest Post: Social Network Overload

p>Can you belong to too many social networks? That's a question a lot of people are asking themselves lately as new social networks seem to pop up every

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week. When all your friends and colleagues belong to different networks, and they're all to join, it can quickly become overwhelming. You're no doubt familiar with a handful of the largest ones, but some sources place the number of existing social networks in the hundreds. Imagine trying to manage roughly 500 separate social profiles—it would basically be a full-time job. What do you do? Choose the ones that will best serve your purposes.

Any business advisor or marketing professional will tell you that to get your business noticed, you need to belong to at least a few good business networking sites. They're different from general social networks in that, as the phrase suggests, they focus on business. By default, there's a social aspect to them, which is only natural when people are sharing information and advice with each other. But they mainly serve as a resource for learning and problem-solving, as well as a reliable method of gaining exposure for your business.

One of the best-known business networking sites is LinkedIn, which is now the number two social networking site. It started as basically an online resume site, but has progressed to offering job listings, allowing members to ask and answer questions, and providing news-sharing tools. Other business networking sites place less emphasis on resumes and job searches in favor of building communities and sharing business information that ranges from marketing and yes, social media, to international business and business law.

Facebook and Twitter, are ranked as the number one and four social networking sites, respectively, with Google+ quickly gaining. Facebook offers a little bit of both business and social. In addition to its personal profiles, the site lets businesses build pages that serve as marketing tools, and vehicles for engaging and interacting with customers and fans. On Twitter, it's just a matter of creating a business account, and using it to broadcast information about your business. Those businesses that use Twitter not only to share information, but to actually interact with their followers see the best results in that medium. Google+ is only just now starting to open up to business accounts, so it will be interesting to see the effect that has on the marketing landscape.

The point is, you have choices. While these sites are the largest, best-known, most-liked, or whatever label you want to apply, they're not the only games in town. Don't miss out on valuable marketing and networking opportunities because you set up accounts on the biggest networks, and then sit back and wait for the traffic to roll in. Do some research, see what the communities are like, and then select a handful that will be helpful, and that you'll be able to keep up with. To get the broadest exposure, hire a social media manager, or an agency that offers social media management. They'll set up profiles for your business over a wide range of networks, and keep up with the accounts for you, freeing you up to run other facets of your business.

Can you belong to too many social networks? Not really. It's just a matter of choosing the ones that will give you the best return, and ensuring you maintain them. There are few things worse for a business than for a customer to find a business profile that's been abandoned. A neglected social media profile as the same effect as a customer arriving at a brick and mortar store that's boarded up. They may make an effort to find you somewhere else, or you may just lose a customer.

America's War Against Social Media

I thought the title itself was worth posting about.

In the video embedded below, you will be exposed to an interesting discussion that is currently (secretly) taking place in our country. With the continued rapid growth of social media and overall web and media communications, we need to stop and consider the Government's role, if there should be any, in all of this.

Nowadays, everyone has a voice - a place to broadcast and speak their minds online. Whether on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, news is traveling faster than ever, and more importantly, the promotion of potential chaos and destruction can spread much more quickly than ever before.

Should social media EVER be regulated? If so, how?

Guest Post: How to Avoid a Facebook Hijack

Brad Goodman is an online educator that helps to encourage people to get online degrees. Today, he has taken the time to write about protecting yourself from a Facebook hijacking.

How to Avoid a Facebook Hijack

Lots of mobile, connected people own portable devices that can access the Internet, have Facebook profiles, and use unsecured wireless networks to get online when out in public over the course of a day. Lots of Facebook users have also seen the amount of spam plaguing the social network increase pretty substantially in the last several years, with friends leaving posts on everyone's walls about free iPads, fake job offers, pyramid schemes, and other scams advertised by bots that hijack Facebook profiles.

One potential factor here is the ease with which users using certain Firefox extensions on public networks can steal Facebook logins and passwords; as a consequence, it's important to enable secure data transmissions wherever possible when using Facebook. Conveniently, this is an easy thing to do, and as of early this month every Facebook user can do it, which will encrypt all data transmissions that can be encrypted.

On a Facebook page, click on "Account" in the top right corner, then click on "Account Settings." You'll then be taken to your account settings. Find "Account Security" in this list, and select "change" on the right side to modify its settings. This will then bring down an expanded menu. Check the box next to "Browse Facebook on a secure connection (https) whenever possible," and check "Send me an email" if you want to receive a notification every time a new computer logs into your Facebook account, though this isn't as important as enabling secure connections.

Check the box that reads "Save" and return to any other Facebook page. Every Web browser tells you that your connection is secure differently, but make sure that the URL of the Facebook page you're on begins with "https://" rather than "http://" and you're likely good to go, making it much safer to browse Facebook on insecure or public wireless networks.

Guest post written by Brad Goodman also known for encouraging people to earn online accounting degrees as well as attend online nursing programs.

Social Media Profile PageRank

I'm not sure if I am late or very early to this finding, but I noticed something very interesting last week.

Upon visiting my Facebook profile, I noticed something different on my toolbar. The Google PageRank toolbar that I use changed and was showing a PR of 3/10. Previously, the PageRank would either be 0 or the elusive 10/10 that the Facebook.com domain yields.

This discovery made me very curious. I quickly jumped over to my Twitter profile and noticed that it featured an outstanding 5/10 ranking. Then, I saw my LinkedIn come in with a 2/10.

I'm sure I'm not the only one that understands how meaningful this is to the future of social media. If Google is going to start treating internal social profiles with as much weight as personal domain names, even more value and an endless amount of opportunities are going to exist in social media in the future.

For me, I can attribute my high PageRanks to both the length of time I have been on these sites (very early for all of them) and the fact that I link to each of my profiles from my personal websites whenever I can.

However, what is most curious to me is the fact that one of my profiles can have a higher PageRank than my highest ranked personal website. Is this the result of all of the Twitter aggregation sites that RT my posts? Hmmmmmm....

What do you guys think of this discovery? Did you already figure this out? What are your profile PageRanks? Leave a comment below.

Guest Post: Practical Social Marketing Tools for Entrepreneurs

Due to President's Day yesterday, this week's guest post was postponed to today. It is worth the extra day's wait though because it's from Jason Tailor. Within, he talks about some amazing social media marketing tools that every businessman needs to have in their arsenal.

It doesn’t matter what your business is, all entrepreneurs want to take their business to the next level. But with the harsh economic environment today, the barrier to entry to traditional marketing has just got higher. Fortunately, there is room to maneuver. Social media marketing enables you to promote your brand or business on the cheap! It is the ultimate connection to your target market. Properly used, it can help you gain in-depth insights to customer behavior.

There are many types of project management and internet marketing tools on the internet. There are some that will inevitably stand out. For example, tools that streamline online business operations save a lot of time and effort. On the other hand, there are also some apps that let you compile user information on social sites. Below is a short list of useful social tools:

  • MailChimp – while its name implies that it provides email marketing service, it does more than that. This tool contains a wide variety of features that makes online promotions, social networking, and data tracking hassle-free. MailChimp can also manage 500 subscribers easily and allows you to send 3,000 free emails a month. If your list grows by more than 500, you can get an upgrade for free. This tool can be integrated with Salesforce, WordPress, and Twitter among others.
  • UserVoice – if you’re like most entrepreneurs, you probably have multiple projects going on. It is difficult to keep track of everything without some help. Uservoice is specifically designed for your needs. By taking advantage of this tool, you can leverage on customer suggestion to improve your business. This will also let you know which business areas to concentrate on.
  • Get Satisfaction – once you have a responsive community, this tool will be highly beneficial. It allows you to get answers to important business questions. The information you gather here will enable you to create the right business strategy. Get Satisfaction is a favorite online tool for small businesses and even big brands.
  • Monitter – is there something wrong with your business? It’s hard to know when you’re on the inside. A lot of entrepreneurs get caught up with ideas that they fail to see the weaknesses that others can see in plain sight. Monitter basically monitors Twitter and prides multi-column results in real time. Type your keywords to get the results.
  • Basecamp – this is a project management tool that lets you juggle multiple projects while keeping sense of it all. In essence, Basecamp is designed for entrepreneurs who need to communicate with their suppliers, teams, and business partners. Progress can be monitored and the information that is send over the platform is stored for later reference.

There are many other social marketing tools you can take advantage of. This article is just an overview of some of the most popular ones in the market today.

About The Author: Jason Tailor has been a search engine marketing entrepreneur for over 5 years. He currently runs the online marketing department for Atlanta’s #1 Tree Service.

Gaylord Palms Hotel in Orlando

Every December, the famous Gaylord Palms Hotel outside of Disney World in Orlando, Florida hosts a miraculous array of ice sculptures in a visual experience they call "Ice!". I have attended three of the last four years and thoroughly enjoy walking through a painfully cold area (9 degrees) looking at some of the most advanced sculptural art you're ever going to see.

Since I have had the pleasure of attending a number of times over the year, it has been fun to watch it grow and evolve into the massive presentation and tourist attraction it is today.

This year, the change that was most interesting to me was the adoption of a Foursquare powered "Scavenger Hunt" where you'd have to find polar bear dolls that were scattered throughout the entire hotel. Since we have done (and still do) similar campaigns at Endagon, I was intrigued and knew I needed to take part in the hunt to see how it was executed.

The Pros

  1. The game increased the level of engagement in the hotel.
  2. The game seemingly increased the amount of time spent in the hotel. This leads to more food, drink, and merchandise sales.
  3. The game provoked most Ice! visitors to at least check out the rest of the hotel.

The Cons

  1. Those that were not tech-savvy were confused with the instructions of the game.
  2. Not everybody had a smartphone to play.
  3. It's physically impossible to check in to Foursquare when you're wearing gloves.
  4. Foursquare didn't prohibit cheating. Anyone could check into any of the polar bears' locations at any time.
  5. The game only featured 3 polar bears, when in reality, there were almost 10 around the hotel. This caused confusion.
  6. The rules did not consist of the entrant "sharing" their findings. Big marketing opportunity missed here.
  7. When the user was finished, you had to download the QR Reader application. Weird.
  8. Instead of tracking the entrants via online activity (hashtags or @ mentions), the rules insisted that people show their phones to the front desk of the hotel.
  9. At the end of everything, I still don't know how to enroll. The front desk didn't scan nor check my phone. They just gave me another pamphlet to look at.

All in all, while this idea was superb and I give the hotel credit for implementing it, the experience left a lot to be desired.

Next year, I strongly encourage the hotel to enlist a "campaign manager" that tracks the scavenger hunt's activity during operating hours and engages with players online at all times.

If I knew there was someone listening on the other end, I would have asked some questions that would have allowed me to understand the rules a little better. All the while, I would have been sharing my actions of this fun game with all of my friends, who in turn, would undoubtedly want to come to Ice! and play the game for themselves.

Social Media in the Year 2030

The year is 2030. Everything around human life has advanced drastically. Technology, creativity, and the Internet. Communication is much different than it was twenty years ago. Everyone functions alongside their personal devices. Every move is monitored. All activities are tracked and reported.

Twenty years ago, social media was still an exciting phenomenon for commerce. That was fun while it lasted. Until it spun out of control and our systems didn't know how to interact with all of the information being shared. It only took a few years for social media to become a standard practice for everybody. Thus, the levels of over-sharing and the aggregation of pointless information became far more than what anyone ever wanted.

There were too many broadcasters. Too many blog posts. Too many tweets. Too many status updates.

Not only was it impossible for humans to catch up with all of this information, but the debate began on how to minimize the less important materials and highlight the portions that were head-turning and newsworthy. Since everyone has essentially adapted to consuming their news in some digital format by now, this issue has become an ongoing debate. Almost a verbal war. Talks of monetization. Egos flying everywhere. How does one create the illusion of importance anymore?

Here we are today in 2030 with more outrageous problems than anyone ever could have predicted. My children, the eldest whom has just graduated (online) high school has been calling me out on some of my tweets from the glory days of 2008-2010 and asking me what some of my status updates meant from the year 2020. Needless to say, the archiving of our every thought and activity has created a society consumed by the past; yet worried of a future that is approaching faster than it should be.

The last 20+ years have been great for me. Unfortunately (and fortunately), my entire adolescent life can be read and critiqued like that of a novel. If I knew that everyone would know EVERYTHING about me 20 years ago, I might have reconsidered publicly displaying my location, my disgust in the Government, and how much I enjoy Apple products.

All of this shared information is being used against people today in the year 2030.

Chaos has ensued.

Something has to give.

Why I Refuse To Use Facebook Places

All of the power of the Internet is in the untrustworthy hands of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. When you are able to recruit such a mass quantity of users around the world, success is inevitable. I salute and envy Facebook for accomplishing that and helping to make the Internet more open and social.

What I will never honor is the company's complete disregard for user privacy, competition, and something less than an oligopoly in certain spaces on the web. In a matter of years, Facebook has managed to shut down a plethora of valuable services through the leveraging of their power and immense userbase.

I could go through the list of startups that they have crushed the dreams of, but not only would it be an endless list, but it would be somewhat off-topic since I began writing this post strictly with the intention to talk about the recently launched Places app within Facebook. For those unfamiliar with it (yea right), it's the new location-based component that allows users to check in to their favorite venues, restaurants, and stores they frequent. Does that sound exactly like the recently successful and innovative applications called Foursquare, Gowalla, etc.? That's because it is.

Shame on Facebook.

There are so many reasons why I will not be checking into anywhere on Facebook anytime soon. Most people are most concerned with privacy, which is evident in the recent burglaries that have popped up in certain areas, but to me... that's a minor concern compared to others.

First and foremost, I am a huge advocate of friendly competition and the leveraging of allies to reach a common goal. If Facebook wasn't so annoyingly hungry to take control of everything on the Internet, their first thought about adapting Facebook to the location space would have been "What service can we make better with the addition of our users?" Or, "How can we team up with an existing platform to create a win-win situation?" Rather than thinking that, the greedy minds of Zuckerberg and his team of genius developers resort to creating their own application in hopes to weed out the little guys trying to make it.

Thankfully, I haven't seen too much usage of Facebook Places during its first month of being live. Additionally, I anticipate that most of the experienced social media enthusiasts in the community will continue to prefer the smaller guys like Foursquare and Gowalla mainly because they feel that Facebook offers them value that's specific and different than a location-based experience.

Will checking in to Places become second nature for Facebook users in several months? Maybe. Let's just hope something changes with their privacy and intentions before we reach that danger zone.

Social Good Day

Mashable has named today, September 23rd, Social Good Day. Since my local meetups still have yet to name a location, I'm assuming the events won't be taking place. Therefore, I wanted to make sure I shared my thoughts on online benevolence and the immense opportunity that social media presents us with as we attempt to improve the world.

I'm going to intertwine the call to action, which is individually pinpointing solutions for change, with a great example of an entrepreneur that is already succeeding with nothing less than a brilliant charitable idea.

I would love for everyone to check out the website MyDunkTank.com.

MyDunkTank allows anybody to start a fundraiser for any cause through some sort of crazy action. This crazy action is essentially "a dare," or something that most people wouldn't want to do voluntarily. However, for the greater good and the charity or cause of their choice, people donate money in order to see this "dare" or unusual event take place.

Pretty ingenious, huh?

The reason why an idea like this works is because it's fun and it benefits everybody involved. The charities raise money, the fundraiser gets a moment in the spotlight, and the donors get to see something that they would obviously pay money to see.

Since this concept is a website based on outrageous activities, the potential for social sharing and virality is heightened. If the video, photos, or written review of the "dare" gets shared throughout everyone's networks with the tag of the cause or charity in tact, we'd all essentially be sharing positive thoughts with one another and hope for some sort of change.

I know there must be tons of similar ideas and other websites that are trying to reach the same goal, but with the Internet getting more saturated everyday, and its users' attention spans dwindling, the big idea behind social good is to make the experience of giving fun and enjoyable. If we can successfully do that as a community, we can really make a difference for years to come.

Losing Clients To College Students

We live in some interesting times right now. One would argue that for the first time in the history of the American economy, the younger generation has a distinct advantage over the older Executives that still "don't get it." If knowledge is power, then you can't disregard the aspirations, enthusiasm, and willingness to learn that young businesspeople possess. Technology and media has changed so drastically that, in all honesty, only the youthful can keep their finger on the pulse of it. After all, they're the ones that have been growing into adolescence alongside all of this innovation.

While I do feel that I am still classified as one of the aforementioned, I was shocked to discover that a long-lasting lead for Endagon Innovations quickly turned into "My nephew said he'll help us out with our web stuff for free. He's in college and always on Facebook and Twitter anyway, so it just makes sense to keep it in the family and save our money."

There is so much wrong with this mindset that I didn't even know where to begin.

Yes, I do acknowledge that there is a ridiculous (and frankly disgusting) amount of young individuals that call themselves "social media gurus" and "SEO professionals," but 90% of the time, these are the folks that have never serviced another party with said services. They believe they can get away with classifying themselves as such simply due to the fact that they have 2,000 random friends on Facebook and get their own spammy tweets retweeted everyday.

I don't want you to take this post as a bitter rant, but rather a universal realization that everybody has something to prove. If a company wants to save money on overhead and third party services every month, that's fine. It makes sense to do so. However, it should not be overlooked that this is just as much of a business decision as was choosing the location of your store. If you end up hurting your brand image because of the lack of experience and professionalism of your nephew in college, it will be very tough to start over.

Social Media Marketing and Advertising Event in Miami

A friend of mine is putting on a Social Media Marketing and Advertising conference in Miami, FL on Thursday, September 30th.

The lineup of speakers is a very impressive one. A few of my friends, including the incredible Greg Rollett, will be there to tell you how to leverage social media to your ultimate advantage and subsequent financial success.

Co-Founder of the event, Murray Newlands, has given me a few tickets and a discount code. I'm obviously not going to simply put the discount code out in public just yet. Instead, I would like for whomever is interested in attending this event to email me or tweet me. From there, I will narrow it down and figure out the best way to distribute all of these goodies.

The event is only a month away so if you are interested, you better get a hold of me immediately.

Trust me when I tell you that you don't want to miss this event. It's going to be a good one.

All of the information on the event can be found here.

Stalk Blog

So I recently decided to use my Tumblr blog more prominently just because it wasn't getting much love. I wanted to be able to aggregate content through one source throughout all of my networks in order to create different feeds. The Tumblr blog has enabled me to do that easily, while sharing some of my favorite things throughout my network.

On it, you won't see personal writings like those that I publish on here. Instead, you'll see news that I'm reading, videos that I'm watching, and things that I'm doing in general.

You can find my new Stalk Blog at: http://stalk.loganlenz.com

Please subscribe.

Happy Social Media Day!

As I foreshadowed earlier this week, today is "Social Media Day." To celebrate this new found holiday, Mashable, Meetup, and local communities have organized events throughout most cities around the United States.

I plan to make a stop at two of the meetups tonight. The first of which being Boca Raton, FL and then later I will be speaking at the Fort Lauderdale, FL meetup.

Again, to find a Social Media Day near you, check out the list here.

Happy Social Media Day! I can't wait to see where this exciting new component of marketing brings us in the future.

WeReward - Get Paid for Checkins and Social Activity

I'm pretty sure you'll want to sign up for WeReward after reading this post.

As a friend of Ted Murphy and everyone at Izea, it's good to see that they have remained ahead of all of the social media companies around today. Since they were there at the beginning with Pay Per Post, I'm glad they have been able to move and shift with the fast-paced industry, all while doing a little innovating of their own.

Izea may have had successes with Social Spark, Sponzai, and Sponsored Tweets, but their newest innovation is the one that I am most excited about. It's called WeReward and it monetizes the current social media trend around location-based services and check-ins. In other words, it's created an opportunity for the socially active to make money just by living - checking in to their favorite venues, completing tasks there, and sharing the results with the world.

Before I ramble on too much about the idea, you should probably just watch the overview video below:

WeReward launched last week at Techcrunch's Disrupt Conference. This means that since the application is still so new, it has yet to hit the mainstream. The reason I mention this with such enthusiasm is because of the referral program that Izea has put into place for the application. If you get in early and are able to help spread the word, you could end up making a decent amount of cash from other people's actions on a consistent basis.

So, for everyone with an iPhone and a Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare account - It's time to start getting paid to be social. It's the new craze of action marketing. Are you going to be ahead of the trend?

Click below to register and install the iPhone app.

Sign up for WeReward Now

I Will Be Speaking at SCORE Orlando

I took this information from the latest SCORE Orlando Newsletter. I will be speaking next Wednesday at 9:30am at SCORE's Orlando Office. Visit http://www.scoreorlando.org for directions and more information.

February 17th Speaker

Concerned about the massive world of technology and myriad of options that our clients might have available for promoting their business?

One of our Meeting Presenters, Logan Lenz, will address …

  1. What are the networking websites and how can a business enroll?
  2. How are the sites used?
  3. What effect does using these sites have on the transparency of the business?
  4. How can networking help market a business?
  5. What are some actual examples of businesses that have used networking successfully (case studies)?

Logan Lenz is the Founder and President of Endagon Enterprises, an internet and music company that owns and operates many web 2.0 businesses and services. Endagon Innovations, in particular, is a new media marketing company that helps businesses build relationships with customers online, including social networking. Mr. Lenz also owns several additional web businesses, as well as has worked with and helped local non-profit organizations.