An Alternative to Search Engines: StumbleUpon

In previous posts, An Alternative to Search Engines: Delicious, and An Alternative to Search Engines: Twitter, I discussed how today’s social media sites offer us an alternative to search engines when searching for information or resources. In those posts I also explained, in detail, how both Twitter and Delicious can be used for this purpose. StumbleUpon is also a site that can be used effectively for this purpose.

StumbleUpon

I like Stumbleupon because it’s more than just a social bookmarking site- it actually recommends pages to you based on your interests.  There are times I have lost track of time while discovering numerous sites about e-marketing or other search terms.  It has somewhat of an addictive nature to it.

Introduced in 2001, Stumbleupon is a “discovery engine” that uses your interests (determined by topics or tags you have said that you liked), and the pages you have already “liked” (or bookmarked using the thumbs up [ ] icon) or “disliked” (marked using the thumbs down [ ] icon) to find pages that you may find interesting. You can “discover” these sites by categories (i.e. “marketing”), by search term, and even by what your friends have liked. For more on how Stumbleupon works, see its about page.

Use StumbleUpon for Search

Search from the StumbleUpon Website. There are a few different ways to use StumbleUpon to find resources. The first is to visit their web site and sign in. Once signed in, enter the keyword or tag in the “Search Favorites” box in the upper right hand corner.

In this example, I’m using “photoshop tutorials.”

You’ll see a page revealing results for the search terms from pages that only your friends liked.

To expand your search, choose “everyone’s favorites” from the drop down menu beside your search term and click search.

Now, your results will include all pages on StumbleUpon that match your search term. Notice how your search results have increased by over 30,000 results.

In order to find the best result, I generally use the number of views, the number of reviews associated with the page, and if any of my friends have liked the page. These aspects have been highlighted in the above picture for easy recognition. I try those with the most views and/or reviews first, until I find what I am looking for.

Search through the StumbleUpon Toolbar. Another way to use StumbleUpon to find resources is through its toolbar within Google (The StumbleUpon toolbar for different web browsers may differ than the one I am using here).

Beside the Stumble button, click “All.” A menu will appear with all of the categories you can stumble in. For example, stumbling in “Advertising” will allow you to only stumble through pages that were discovered and placed in the “Advertising” category.  Choose “Search,” which will allow you to stumble through a query.

In the window that appears, type your search term and click okay to proceed.

You will see that you are automatically brought to a page that matches your search, as it has been tagged by others. Continue clicking the “stumble” button in the toolbar to stumble through more pages that match your search.

Other Posts in This Series: Delicious and Twitter

Other social media sites that can be used in a similar way to find some great resources include Delicious and Twitter. You can read about how I use Delicious to find resources in my post, An Alternative to Search Engines: Delicious,  and discover how Twitter is used in a similar way in my post, An Alternative to Search Engines: Twitter.

Share Your Search Methods

How do you find your resources? Do you rely on search engines? Are there other social media sites that you use to find things? Please feel free to share your experiences and tips in the comments section.

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10 SEO Strategies You Can’t Afford to Ignore

This is a guest post from Randall Davidson of Audio Transcription, a small transcription service that generates much of its business from organic search traffic.

In 2011, there are more people than ever who claim they can help you get to the top of the Google rankings. Most either have something to sell or are new to search engine optimization (SEO) and pitching strategies that are suspicious at best and likely to get your site banned at worst. Here are 10 tried-and-true ways to advance your SEO efforts. If any of them seem like a lot of work, it’s probably because they are; legitimately building a successful online presence is hard work, but it can pay off. Here are 10 strategies to help get you there:

  1. Submit articles to legitimate article directories. Article directories allow you to write an original, helpful article and include a link or two back to your site (usually at the end of the article in what is called the “resource box”). Not only do the backlinks help your site rank higher, but old, powerful article directories actually have enough authority with Google that even their new articles generally rank pretty highly. That means the links in the article could actually send you traffic. Two of the most powerful article directories are EzineArticles.com and Buzzle.com.
  2. Write guest posts (like this one). Writing a guest post (or many) allows you to expose your knowledge and writing style to new audiences (and potentially a portion of those audiences will choose to follow your blog going forward). In addition, most guest post hosts will allow you to include a few links back to your site in or at the end of your post. To find guest blogging opportunities, email your guest post ideas (or even an entire, original post) to your favorite bloggers (hopefully in your same niche) and ask if you might be able to contribute your original content to their blog. Be sure to work with them to ensure your content will be accepted by their audience.
  3. Claim your local listings. If your business has a physical address, be sure to claim your location on Google Places (to get in Google Maps and localized Google searches), Bing Maps, Yahoo! Local and YellowPages.com. This will help you rank for longtail phrases related to your location (like “Orlando dentist” or “Riverside lawyer”). There are a ton of other local directories, but these “big four” should get you pretty far.
  4. Set up Google Alerts for the topics your website covers. Setting up a Google Alert for “San Francisco theater tickets” would mean that you would get an email anytime the phrase “San Francisco theater tickets” is used online. If you run a theater in San Francisco, it’ll be important for you to interact with the key online influencers when it comes to San Francisco theaters. Setting up a Google Alert will allow you to reach out to anyone who begins or participates in a discussion that could be relevant to your business.
  5. Stick to a plan. Don’t just approach SEO as something you do once in a while. The key to SEO is consistency. Figure out what works for you and continue your efforts, even if they don’t immediately pay off. You should measure progress in months, not days or hours.
  6. Only chase legitimate links. Don’t pay for links – Google will notice. Don’t get sucked in by anything that sounds too good to be true (i.e. “I can get you 1,000 links in 24 hours”). The fact of the matter is that anything in SEO that sounds too good to be true likely is – and it’s a good bet that these types of offers will get you banned from Google and other search engines altogether.
  7. Participate in forums. While some forums allow you to place a link in your forum signature, that’s not the only SEO benefit to participating. Forums are generally places where people go to discuss niche topics. The people who care enough about a given topic to participate in a forum are also likely to have active web presences elsewhere. If the resources you’re offering in the forum are good enough, chances are people who are active in that space will spread them via their other channels on the web.
  8. Submit your top posts to key social media destinations. Make sure you’re submitting your top posts to places like StumbleUpon, Facebook, Digg, Reddit, etc. This will put your best work in front of many new eyeballs and often a portion of those who view your work will choose to link back directly to your post.
  9. Submit your website to relevant and legitimate directories. There are 1000s upon 1000s of directories and most are just terrible. Many were built in an era in which search engines afforded an undue amount of influence to these types of directories in determining how to rank websites. Nowadays, the only directories that are worth considering, in my opinion, are local directories (covered, in part, in #3) and niche directories. An example of a niche directory is a directory of car blogs or a directory of cooking websites. Basically, avoid any directory that looks “spammy” or is simply a collection of random links.
  10. Study what your competition is doing. Use Yahoo’s Site Explorer to see what types of backlinks are pointing to your competitors’ sites. Perhaps you can obtain some of the same kinds of backlinks.

Randall Davidson is the lead project manager for Audio Transcription, a transcription service that offers online transcription services. He often writes about small business topics on his company’s blog.

Editor’s Note: Thank you to Randall for his guest post! These are some great tips to keep in mind when conducting your search engine optimization! If you are interested in writing a guest post to appear on the eMarketing & New Media Blog, feel free to send an email to me, Erica, so we can discuss a potential topic. Thanks again, Randall!

Managing Your Brand 140 Characters at a Time

This guest post is contributed by Angelita Williams, who writes on the topics of online courses.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: angelita.williams7 @gmail.com.

TwitterAs I write this, my Twitter timeline is updating in the browser on the other computer screen. I’m getting Tweets in real time from all of the users I follow, and I’m clicking between mentions, my saved searches, and any reTweets of my own Tweets. Sometimes I’ll Tweet something clever, but mostly I’m just watching the world move along. I’m essentially managing my personal brand all within the new and very convenient dashboard that Twitter recently released.

The thing to know about Twitter is that it’s more than a site that aggregates what people are eating for lunch or how many times they’ve sneezed in the last thirty seconds. Certainly there’s that aspect of it, which I really do enjoy for its quirky nature, but there’s also a vast resource within the community of Twitter users that can be of tremendous help to your brand. And, obviously, there are also a great number of potential clients out there on Twitter as well. Your task as someone interested in using Twitter for marketing purposes is to juggle how you will present your brand in the Twittersphere.

First, you’ll want to locate yourself in a community. Remember how I said that Twitter is a vast resource? Well, tap into that resource by searching out other users in your market and follow them. You won’t automatically get followed back, but that’s okay for now. What you will be doing is aligning yourself with other brands, thus adding to your own brand’s credibility and appearance to others. Be careful about what other users you follow. Likewise, be careful about allowing users to follow you: keep your followers clean of spambots, as nothing says you don’t care about your brand more than allowing spambots to follow you.

Because Twitter is timeline-based, many users will initially see your Tweets alongside many other 140 character updates. Because of this, you’ll want to find a way to make your Tweets stand out above the rest to inspire interest in your brand. You can do this with some of those weird personal tweets, but remember that these can sometimes be alienating to users. Or you can do this by asking a question that somehow relates to your brand, thus generating hype among interested users.

Once you’ve gained a bunch of followers, your next task will be to manage your brand on Twitter for the long-term. Shift how you think about your Tweets. They are no longer individual transmissions into the unknown, but rather a collection of words and ideas about you and your brand that will change over time. With long-term goals in mind, you can work to balance the weird personal Tweets with more professional marketing Tweets as well as Tweets that interact with your community of followers, thus tapping into that resource. For example, if you have a question about something related to your niche, ask your followers. You’ll be seen as someone interested in collaborating with others, and you’ll also get an answer to your question.

Thank you to Angelita for her guest post! If you are interested in writing a guest post to appear on the eMarketing & New Media Blog, feel free to send an email to me, Erica, so we can discuss a potential topic. Thanks again, Angelita!

10 Ways to Change the World Through Social Media

This is a guest post, and a re-post, from Max Gladwell.

Max Gladwell logoOur children will inherit a world profoundly changed by the combination of technology and humanity that is social media. They’ll take for granted that their voices can be heard and that a social movement can be launched from their laptop. They’ll take for granted that they are connected and interconnected with hundreds of millions of people at any given moment. And they’ll take for granted that a black man is or was President of the United States.

What’s most profound is that these represent parts of a greater whole. They represent a shift in power from centralized institutions and organizations to the People they represent. It is the evolution of democracy by way of technology, and we are all better for it.

Please note this is not a top-10 list, nor are these listed in any particular order. It’s also incomplete. So we ask that you add to this conversation in the comments. If you’d like to Retweet this post or take the conversation to Twitter or FriendFeed, please use the hashtag #10Ways.

Change the Web Challenge1. Take Social Actions: The nonprofit organization Social Actions aggregates “opportunities to make a difference from over 50 online platforms” through its unique API. It recently held the Change the Web Challenge contest in order to inspire the most innovative applications for that API. The Social Actions Interactive Map won the $5,000 first prize. The result is a virtual tour of the world through the lens of social action. “People are volunteering, donating, signing petitions, making loans and doing other social actions as we speak — all over the world. To capture the context of the where, this project uses sophisticated techniques to extract location information from full text paragraphs.” You can also join the Social Actions Community, which is powered by Ning…which now boasts more than one million individual social networks.

Twitter logo2. Twitter with a Purpose: This list could be exclusive to Twitter. The micro-blogging sensation was featured on our first two lists (a three-tweet), and it’s certain to be a fixture. From Tweetsgiving, the virtual Thanksgiving feast, to the Twestival, which organized 202 off-line events around the world to benefit charity: water, it’s become the de facto tool for organizing and taking action. Tweet Congress won the SXSW activism award, and celebrity Tweeps Ashton Kutcher and Kevin Rose Tweeted their two million followers about ending malaria. Max Gladwell recently initiated the #EcoMonday follow meme as a way to connect and organize the Green Twittersphere.

White House logo

3. Visit White House 2.0: Inside of its first 100 days, the Obama administration has managed to set the historic benchmark for government transparency and accountability. The President’s virtual town hall meeting used WhiteHouse.gov to crowdsource questions from his 300 million constituents, complete with voting to determine the ones he’d have to answer. All told, 97,937 people submitted 103,978 questions and cast 1,782,650 votes. The White House continues to raise the bar with its official Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter channels. In so doing President Obama is not just setting the standard for state and local government in the U.S. He’s establishing the world standard. The Obama administration is spreading democracy not by force but through example. Because you don’t have to be an American citizen to be a friend or follower of White House 2.0.

Zumbox logo4. Claim your Zumbox: What happens when all mail can be sent and delivered online to any street address in a paperless form? That’s the big question for Zumbox, which has created an online mail system with a digital mailbox for every U.S. street address. And while the answer to that question remains to be seen, it promises to be as liberating as it is disruptive. A key quality for Zumbox is that it’s closed system much like that of Facebook, only instead of true identity it’s true address. This will enable people to better connect with their communities including their neighbors, local businesses, and the mayor’s office. The primary agent of change, though, might not be that this uses street addresses but that it enables direct and potentially viral feedback, which is a virtue that e-mail and the USPS do not offer. The first methods are to request exclusive paperless delivery and to block a sender, but others are certain to evolve such as real-time commenting and ways to share mail with friends, family, and colleagues. Welcome to Mail 2.0. (Disclosure: Zumbox is a client of Rob Reed, the founder of Max Gladwell.)

EcoMatters logo

5. Host a Social Media Event: This is the year of the social media event. No meaningful gathering of people is complete without an interactive online audience, especially when it’s so easy and cost effective to pull off. Essential tools include a broadband connection, laptop, video camera, projector, and screen. Add people and a purpose, such as entrepreneurship. Promote it through social media channels, and you have a social media event. A recent example in the green world is the Evolution of Green, which was hosted by Creative Citizen, a green wiki community. It celebrated the launch of a new Web property, EcoMatters, while also establishing a new Twitter tag. By posing the question, “How can we go from green hype to green habit?” and including the #GreenQ hashtag, it sparked a conversation between attendees and the Twittersphere in real time. Thus was born a new mechanism for getting answers to green questions via Twitter.

Salaam Garage6. Travel the World: More than anyone else, Tim O’Reilly knows the potential for social media to change the world. In his opening keynote at this year’s Web 2.0 Expo, he called for a new ethic in which we do more with less and create more value than we capture. This provided the context for SalaamGarage founder Amanda Koster, whose presentation followed O’Reilly’s. The idea is that social media has enabled each of us to have an audience. Whether through Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, or a personal blog, each of us can have influence and reach. What’s more, it can be used for good. SalaamGarage coordinates trips for citizen journalists (that means you) to places like India and Vietnam in conjunction with non-government organizations like Seattle-based Peace Trees. The destination is the story, as these humanitarian journalists report on the people they meet and discoveries they make. Their words, images, and video are posted to the social web to gain exposure and because these stories just need to be told.

Drupal logo7. Build It on Drupal: You may not have noticed, but the open-source Drupal content management system (CMS) has quickly become the dominant player on the social web. While we still prefer WordPress as a strict blogging application, Drupal has emerged as the go-to platform for building scalable, community-driven Web sites. It powers Recovery.gov, a key part of President Obama’s commitment to transparency and accountability. PopRule uses it as a social news platform for politics. And Drupal will soon become the platform for Causecast, a site where “media, philanthropy, social networking, entertainment and education converge to serve a greater purpose.” This is especially significant because Causecast CEO Ryan Scott is transitioning the site off of Ruby on Rails because Drupal has proved more efficient, user friendly, and cost effective. (Disclosure: Max Gladwell founder Rob Reed is co-founder of PopRule.)

3rd Whale8. Green Your iPhone: Looking for an organic diner within biking distance that has a three-star green rating? There’s a app for that. It’s called 3rd Whale, and you can download it for free. (Except that the star rating is actually a whale rating.) Complete with Facebook Connect, this iPhone app locates green products and businesses in 30 major North American cities. It uses the iPhone’s dial function to select a category (food), sub-category (restaurants), and distance (walking, biking, or driving). In Santa Monica, this might give you Swingers diner for its selection of veggie and vegan fare. You could then get directions from your current location using the iPhone’s built-in Google map, rate your experience on the three-whale scale, and write up a quick review. 3rd Whale recently released a new feature that integrates green-living tips, which can show how much energy or waste you’ll save by taking a given action.

Playing for Change logo9. Unite the World Through Video: Matt’s dancing around the world video inspired many to tears. Today, more than 20 million people have viewed his YouTube masterpiece, where he performs a kooky dance with the citizens of planet earth. The most recent example of this approach is Playing for Change, which connects the world through song. The project started in Santa Monica with a street performance of the classic Stand By Me and expanded to New Orleans, New Mexico, France, Brazil, Italy, Venezuela, South Africa, Spain, and The Netherlands. The project was superbly executed via social media, complete with a YouTube channel, MySpace, Facebook, and Blog. It’s received tremendous mainstream media exposure and also benefits a foundation of the same name.

Social Yell logo10. Rate a Company: The conversation about corporate social responsibility (CSR) takes place across the social web on blogs, Twitter, and YouTube, but a central hub for this information and opinion is still to be determined. SocialYell seeks to address this by building an online community around the CSR conversation, where users can submit reviews of companies together with nonprofit organizations and even public figures like Michelle Obama. The major topics are the Environment, Health, Social Equity, Consumer Advocacy, and Charity. The reviews are voted and commented on by the community in a Reddit-like fashion with both up (Yell) and down (shhh) voting. The site is relatively new and still gaining traction, but there’s no question that a resource like this is needed to shine a bright light on CSR and and other related issues.

11. Publish a collective, simultaneous blog post on a universal topic: As Nigel Tufnel might say, this list goes to eleven. Let the #10Ways conversation begin…

Final note: This is Max Gladwell’s third list of “10 Ways to Change the World Through Social Media.” The first was posted a year ago today on Sustainablog.org, and the sequel followed five months later. If a single headline can capture the Max Gladwell raison d’etre, this is it.

Social Media Tools Should be Used for PR

In my opinion, public relations is all about getting people’s attention, and responding to what they have to say about you. Today, I want to talk a little about the second part, which is for the most part known as reputation management.

Defined: As related to the media, reputation management is the process of tracking other’s opinions and comments about a company’s actions and products, and reacting to those opinions and comments to protect and enhance the company’s reputation.

If your company currently does not have a reputation management strategy in place to monitor and respond to company mentions in social media, I recommend immediately signing up for the following social media services.

Google Alerts

I’ve talked about this in a past post, but to summarize, Google Alerts is a service that will send you an email, or report to your RSS feed, when any mentions of your company name, your name, or any keyword become indexed on Google.

Why is this useful? If you were Dell, wouldn’t you have liked to have been immediately notified when a laptop that you made spontaneously combusted at a conference? In today’s era of social media, there would have been tweets, blog posts, and photos of it online within thirty seconds of the first flame.

If some extremely negative or extremely positive comments are made on one of your products or your company in general, you want to be the first to address it so that any potential problems will not escalate.

TweetBeep

TweetBeep is sometimes known as the Google alerts for twitter. It’s the same concept- except you are notified when your keyword is mentioned in any tweets on Twitter, and in real time (within one hour of the mention, you will be notified).

Twitter is evolving as a real time search engine, so instead of getting notified hours or perhaps days after your company’s product explodes, you’ll be notified immediately, allowing you and your company to immediately begin to formulate a plan for addressing the issue and managing your company’s reputation.

What to do after your notified

I am by no means a PR professional, but I can tell you that consumers don’t like to be lied to, and don’t like to be “talked around.” My best advice on this topic is to respond to any negative press timely, honestly, and up-front. If your product was faulty and is now considered dangerous, admit that you made a mistake instead of blaming the problem on the plant you outsourced to, for example. Take responsibility and address the issue. People care about you fixing the product, not who you point the finger at (for the most part). The ‘problem’ is much more likely to stay a simple complaint then to escalate into a full-blown crisis if it is addressed immediately.

Also, be sure to not release a short press release or statement talking around the issue, saying things like “we are doing everything we can to solve this problem,” and simply leave it at that, with no further communication as you actually address the issue. Or else, the fact that you are handling the situation poorly will become the focus of the ultimate conversation going on in the media.

Remember- your entire company and every step you take will be under scrutiny once an issue arises, so handle yourself appropriately.

If you’re feeling ambitious

If you’re not completely comfortable with social media yet, but are feeling ambitious, then create an official company Twitter profile. This way, when somebody talks about you on Twitter- you can immediately respond instantly to that individual or the mass twitter audience, in a short and sweet message of 140 characters or less.

The point:

Public relations professionals should be using social media tools such as Google Alerts, Tweetbeep, and Twitter to monitor company mentions in the media to most effectively manage the company’s reputation.

Twitter Overload- 10 Reasons Why I Love and 1 Why I Hate Twitter

I love Twitter. (Follow me @emd5005).

I’m on it as much as possible. I love learning what others’ are doing with their days, how they are doing, and why they are doing it. I even love the occassional retweet of a killer article or blog post, or learning about how a plane “landed” in the Hudson River before it was being reported by the television news.

Ten Reasons Why I Love Twitter

  1. It serves as my virtual group of cubicles. Since I work at home, I miss the social aspect of the office. I miss sharing the cool sites I find, and stories about my dogs, and stories about others’ lives. Twitter provides me with a virtual version of the talk over the water cooler.
  2. My friends keep me company. Yes, this is extremely similar to the first point. But not only do I like communicating to my virtual office, I love hearing the office buzz.
  3. My friends recommend only the best sites. And the best sites usually have a RT (retweet) in front of them.
  4. Provides me with a polling audience. Do you need a few quotes for a blog post? Just ask your followers what they think and you’ll have an instant array.
  5. Answers my question immediately. If I need a definition of something, or advice on the SAP software I’ve been working on, etc, I ask my twitter audience first. Even with as small a audience that I have (143 followers)- there’s always somebody that’s willing to help out. 
  6. To use as a search engine. Sometime, if I need a quick question answered quick, like who won Best Actor at the Oscar’s last night, I ask Twitter instead of dealing with Google.
  7. To search for somebody that can help me. Twitter is like a directory of professional help. Need a superb press release writer? Shoemoney asked and was immediately bombarded with referrals for @newspapergrl. Need a company to sell you live rock for your saltwater aquarium? I didn’t even ask and I got contacted.
  8. Great place to announce blog posts. Twitter can be just another medium, and a successful one, to announce your newest blog posts to the world. Using Twitterfeed, you can set your Twitter account to do this with no effort from you.
  9. A terrific way to communicate with your favorite brands. Follow @starbucks, or @JetBlue for a truly personalized and interactive conversation with the companies.
  10. Endless Possibilities. With Twitter improving, and hundreds of Twitter applications being created, who knows what we’ll be able to do with twitter in 6 months. The thought of its potential is overwhelming.

What I’ve Had Enough Of

But I have to say it-I’ve had enough of Twitter. It’s the next big thing, and every big social marketer won’t shut up about it. In my RSS feed- it seems as if 25% of the posts are about Twitter. And that would be great if they were all unique takes on the subject. But there’s countless twitter posts on how to get people to follow you, how to use it for marketing, and how often / if you should retweet.

1 Thing I Hate About Twitter

  1. Enough is enough. I’m on Twitter Overload. Stop telling me how twitter is like your uncle Fred.

Dazzle me. Give me a formula for your likelihood to be retweeted, and how to be a good dog on twitter, but don’t tell me again 10 easy ways to get people to follow you.

If you’re going to write about Twitter, Don’t fit in with the clutter. Stand out from the crowd and dare to be different!

Some Posts About Twitter I Really Love

Your Input

What do you think about all the Twitter posts that are saturating the blogosphere? Do you not mind them? Welcome them? What are some of your favorite Twitter posts? I’d love to read them, and post them here for others to read, as well!

Rhett and Link Sing for Social Media

I recently discovered Rhett and Link on YouTube, a musical duo that creates video music video parodies, scripted series, improv, and just some funny and entertaining stuff. You can check them out on YouTube, or you can go to their website and find even more “free mp3s, life stories, and secrets!”

I’ve also become a very big fan, and have already followed both Rhett and Link on Twitter.

Below are some of my favorite Rhett and Link Videos…enjoy!

Facebook Song

Internet Overdose Song