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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My Social Media Pet Peeves

Posted by Rainier Sky on April 30, 2011

Writing is therapeutic for someone like me. It allows me to express my thoughts in an organized and, sometimes, fun way. Today my therapy involves a little venting about some of my social media pet peeves.

Of course, I am not perfect. I, too, commit a few of these sins now and then and, of course, I look the other way when somebody I like commits one of these grievous acts. Then again, I also have been known to hide, un-follow or de-link those who commit these errors more than I can tolerate.

I also look for look these things before I make new connections. You may have noticed that I don’t have a huge following on Twitter (739) and that’s on purpose.  I suppose I would have a lot more if I simply followed everyone who followed me, but I just don’t see the value in it. I want connections that have meaning and purpose. There are also a lot of people who have many more Facebook friends than me (280). Frankly, I have enough trouble keeping up with the ones I have. So, now and then, I have been known to glean my list of friends and followers.

So, let’s get to the list.

  1. The automater – I try to follow anyone who uses any type of automated feed for their profile.Automated Feeds Suck I also hate people who hire others to manage their account. No one can share meaningful information several times an hour around the clock without help. There are some exceptions, of course, such as a few industry experts (cough..@GuyKawasaki…cough) whose opinions bear such weight that I still follow them.  Let’s get real, though, no one can come up with meaningful information to post at exact five minute intervals without software or a staff. It’s disingenuous.
  2. No personality – It’s called “social” media for a reason. I like authentic people who are not afraid to show a little personality. There’s nothing more boring that someone who is all business all the time. Speaking of which…
  3. The braggart – I may be guilty of this one now and then especially when I am sharing news about my children, but I try to balance it with a little humility. It’s O.K. to let people know you are human and share a laugh when you make a mistake. As long as no one gets hurt, it makes you more endearing.
  4. The moaner – Everybody has a bad day now and then, but losing sight of the good things in life can also lose you friends.
  5. Do business on your page – I friend people on Facebook because that is what they are to me. If I want to hear about the wonderful weight loss product you are now offering to a limited number of friends, share it on your business page.
  6. TURN OFF ALL CAPS – DID YOUR EYES JUMP DOWN TO THIS LINE BEFORE YOU READ THE OTHERS. THAT’S BECAUSE ALL CAPS IS THE EQUIVALENT OF SHOUTING. IT’S AN OBNOXIOUS CRY FOR ATTENTION AND I CANNOT STAND IT.
  7. The salesman – This is for all the real estate agents,  multi-level marketers and others who use Twitter to post classified ads. Nobody is reading them. The sad part is that most of the people doing this have no idea how bad this looks. They might as well put a stamp on their forehead that says “I don’t understand social media.”
  8. The unknown maiden – A few years back I went on a mission to try and re-connect with a lot of my old high school friends to promote our upcoming reunion. As a result, a lot of people also started to find me. Most of them I recognized right away, but there quite a few – women in particular – whom I could not identify. So if you have changed your name as a result of a marriage, you might want to include both your maiden and married name(s) on your profile.
  9. The critic – Someone who thinks they are a writer should be able to use proper grammar, punctuation and spelling every time. Right? Well, sorry, I am just not that perfect. I occasionally make errors. In fact, my smartphone is a constant challenge to my fat thumbs. I don’t mind laughing at myself when I make a humorous mistake, but don’t point out errors just to show how smart you are. It’s arrogant.
  10. Keep it civilDon't SwearI connect with and follow a lot of different types of people and subjects on social media and I am constantly surprised and put off by people who think it’s cool to swear. Get a clue. It makes you look stupid.
  11. The separator – Studies show time and again that people do business with those whom they like. So, if you want to do business with me, don’t decline my Facebook invitation.
  12. Re-post if you ____ – I have never put a bumper sticker on any car, I delete all chain mail and I rarely, if ever, forward any funny emails. I prefer original thought. So even though I have wonderful kids, I support our troops and I am thankful for every teacher I have had, I don’t want others to have to read the same post one more time.
  13. Lose the quotes –  I already have several books on my reference shelf. I don’t need you to remind me people smarter than me have already said – which leads me to the next one.
  14. Jesus is not on Facebook – I have nothing against spirituality and I really don’t mind if my friends want to tell me about the wonderful people they met at church. Just don’t quote me verses from the Bible. I have one of those somewhere, too.

Well, I hope I have not offended too many of you.

Thanks for reading,

Kevin Bush, Principal & CEO
Rainier Sky Marketing & Public Relations

 

Is Geosocial Networking Right for Your Business

Posted by Rainier Sky on March 19, 2011

The popularity of smart phones, tablets and other GPS enabled mobile devices has a lot of marketers re-thinking geosocial networking. Individuals use these networks and other location-based services to share their location with friends, search for goods and services nearby and check the reviews and ratings of unfamiliar places. Organizations can use these networks as a form of permission-based marketing to reach potential customers with special promotions at opportune moments.

Foursquare on a Smartphone

Foursquare on a Smartphone

The overall number of people using geosocial networking remains small, but is growing at an incredibly rapid pace. Just how big is the opportunity? There are more than 60 million smart phones in the United States and some sources expect that they will become the predominant means of surfing the Web within the next year or two. Nielsen projects that smartphones will comprise the majority of all mobile phones by the end of this year. Meanwhile, the number of Foursquare members grew by 3400 percent in 2010. With Facebook now moving aggressively into the space, the growth potential is staggering.

Meanwhile, a battle for dominance in the geosocial space is raging among major players that include FacebookFoursquareGoogleGowallaYelp and others. Each competitor keeps adding newfeatures and capabilities that are generating a lot of buzz and presenting new opportunities for organizations of all types and sizes.

So, is the time right for your organization to start using geosocial networking? The answer might depend on your type of business and the technological sophistication of the people it serves. Right now the possibilities look pretty good for organizations in the hospitality, tourism and retail sectors, particularly those that cater to individuals exploring unfamiliar surroundings. Yet organizations of all type can can use geosocial networking for creative promotions, such as rewards for loyal customers who “unlock” a special offer after so many visits or “check ins”.

Here’s a few more examples of how geosocial networks are being used today:

  • You are walking through the mall when you pull out your smart phone and you fire up Facebook Places to help your family decide where to meet later. As the GPS on your phone pulls up a list of various locations, you notice that your favorite bookstore is offering an extra 20 percent off to the next 10 customers to check in. Well, you might want to tell the family you will need a little more time.
  • You are traveling on business and you just arrive at your hotel. You pull out your iPad while the clerk looks up your reservation and you fire up Yelp to look up the nearest ATM machine. You see that your bank has one right across the street. Now you can avoid the high fees charged by the third-party ATM there in the lobby.
  • You and your spouse decide on a whim to stop and check out the hot, new restaurant in town. The waiting list is too long, so you decide just to have a glass a wine in the bar. You pull out your Android phone and when you check in on Foursquare you discover your good friends are already there. One of them also has a smart phone set to alert them a friend checks in nearby and the friend comes over and invites you to join them at their table.
  • You are looking for an attorney to look over a real estate opportunity, but no one you know can offer a recommendation. So you pull up your favorite search engine and two law firms nearby with Google Places listings under the keyword ”real estate attorney”. You check them out and one of them has a recommendation from your dentist with whom you have an upcoming appointment. She’s always trying to talk to you while her hands are in your mouth, so why not make it worth while and ask about her experience?

Can you imagine your organization fitting in any of these scenarios? Like most social media, geosocial networking is user friendly and relatively easy to get started. Your greatest expense – unless you go crazy with promotional offers – will likely be the time you invest setting up and managing it.

Want to give it a try? If so, here’s a few tips on how to get started.

Get Yourself a Smartphone

It’s not an absolute must for everything, but you will need a GPS-enabled device for some tasks and it sure can make managing it a lot easier. I’m also a big believer that using such a device is the only way to really keep up with this rapidly changing technology. Besides, what better way to see how other organizations are using geosocial networking to their benefit.

Claim Your Locations

Rainier Sky on Facebook Places

Rainier Sky on Facebook Places

If you do nothing else, I recommend that every organization register their locations with every geosocial network and location-based services. Not only will it give visitors one more way to find you, but its the only way to take control of your online identity. Adding a few extra back links with each profile will also enhance your search engine optimization (geosocial sites rank pretty well these days), and most services notify you so you can respond quickly when someone posts a review.

Android Market

The easiest way to claim and manage your locations is with your GPS-enable wireless device. Each network is a bit different, but the overall process is relatively the same. Just download the application for one or more geosocial network from your devices online market or app store. Enable your device’s GPS feature and fire up the app. Search for locations or places nearby and add yours. Your location may already be registered with one or more service, but they all have procedures in place to help legitimate representatives assume control of their location and correct any basic information. Other businesses can also show up at your address if your business is relatively new to its location or if it resides within a multi-story building.

Test a few Promotions

Whether you call it a promotion, offer or deal, most organizations will have to offer some incentive to encourage their patrons to check in at their location. It might take the form of a discount, free merchandise with a minimum purchase or even a branded chotchkie like a sticker, button or keyring. Who knows, you might even have a few items somewhere in a back room you could use for a quick experiment.

Offers on Google Places

Offers on Google Places

Do you need something different for each network? There are two schools of thought. On one hand, offering unique promotions on each network is the easiest way to measure whether your customers prefer one network vs. another. It may  also the only reason why an individual would connect with your organization on more than one network. On the other hand, why would you want to limit yourself if the promotion is profitable? Then again, each network likes to differentiate itself so you may have to customize your promotions for each network whether you want to or not.

Consider the following examples.

Facebook Places

Facebook uses a program for promotions on its network that it calls “Deals”  and they are categorized into  four basic types:

  • Individual deals are one-time offers.
  • Loyalty deals allow you to reward frequent customers.
  • Friend deals offer incentives for users to share your promotion with their friends.
  • Charity deals help develop deeper bonds through rewards that benefit the charity of your choice.

Facebook has a couple short videos that explain how Deals work for customers and how a business can make a Deal available through Places. You can also read more by downloading a copy of Facebook’s Deals Guide for Business. Deal sponsors must claim their place of business and all deals are subject to review that can take up to 48 hours. Facebook Places can also be merged with your Facebook Page to add additional capabilities and features to both. Of course, you first have to officially add and claim your Place.

Foursquare

Foursquare allows a business to set up various promotions that network members “unlock” by fulfilling specific criteria you set up in advance. The only conditions are that your promotions offer some economic value and are unique to their members. Examples include the following:

  • Newbie promotions reward first-time visitors to your business.
  • Flash Sales reward customers who check in on a first-come, first served basis during a limited time.
  • Friend rewards encourage members to patronize your business with a group of their network friends.
  • Swarm sales reward any group of customers when a minimum number of check in.
  • Loyalty rewards encourage customers to be frequent customers.
  • Mayors are rewarded for being the most frequent visitor during the previous 60 days.

Foursquare also allow you to share administration of a location, which can help you be more responsive and provide better service.

Google Places

Rainier Sky on Google Places

Rainier Sky on Google Places

Location-based promotions through Google are the most basic. The new “Tags” program allow you to place information about an offer or coupon next to your highlighted Google Places listing that appears both in normal search and Google Maps results. Just select the locations where the offer is available, write a few lines of text and set up an expiration. Google ran a free trial of Tags for registered Google Places accounts, but it has since expired. Regardless of whether you use tags, every organization should create their free Google Places listing.

 

Promote Your Profiles

Foursquare Check In Here

Check In Here

If you are going to invest the time to be active on any social networks, you want to make sure your customers know about it. Promote your participation on your website and post about on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. You can mention it on print materials and inside your business on a blackboard or a sign at the cash register. You could even place a computer, television or even a digital photo frame in a key location to promote your participation or even acknowledge guest check-ins as they arrive. Just be aware of any limitations that may apply when using the network trademarks.

Educate Your Employees

You also have to make sure your employees know how to honor your promotions or your customers might just have a bad experience or even give you a poor review. It might just be as simple as letting your employees know how to input the promotional code in your cash register, but they will need to know how to make it work with your systems.

Of course, yous might also want to set some expectations for your employees who might just be using geosocial networks themselves. Are they eligible for the same promotions when they check in? Do you really want them to become the Foursquare mayor of your location (It’s easy to relinquish, but they will have to sign in to their account and do it themselves.).

Finally, one last thought…

Thank your guests

Geosocial networking can also present organizations with the opportunity to extend a thank you to their patrons. A quick note to ensure they had a good experience can go a long way, and may even help uncover problems that might otherwise go unreported.

Thanks for reading,

Kevin Bush, Principal & CEO
Rainier Sky Marketing & Public Relations

 

YouTube for Professional Development

Posted by Rainier Sky on February 17, 2011

A good friend of mine stopped by the other day and we started talking about how we use the Internet to find information. One of his hobbies is restoring classic cars and he shared a story about finding a trick he learned online that saved him several hundred dollars. He was working on one of the cars when he decided to drove it to a nearby auto parts store. He got back in the car after making his purchase, but he could not put the car in reverse to back out of his parking space. So, he walked home, fired up his laptop and diagnosed the problem. (The brake sensor was not working, so he just put on the parking brake and started the car in neutral.)

Then I shared my story about fixing my son’s Playstation 3. As an early adopter of technology, I had bought one of the first 20-gigabyte PS3s when they first came out. We use it regularly as both a game and entertainment system and I am a huge fan. It stopped working a while back, so I searched the Internet found that others with similar symptoms had diagnosed it as a problem with the Blueray drive – a component you could buy online for roughly $90. Sony wanted $75 just to look at it, and parts would be extra if I wanted them to fix it. So, I bought the part online and replaced it myself with help of several amateur videos I found on YouTube that walked me through the process step-by-step.

My friend was surprised. He thought YouTube was just for watching videos of goofy kids do crazy stunts and half-clothed pop stars that dance better than they sing. On the contrary, I told him, I visit YouTube regularly for professional development — another revelation.

YouTube is a great source of information on just about any subject. In fact, its the second largest search engine on the Internet based on the overall volume of queries. I subscribe to several channels to help me keep pace with the constantly changing world of eMarketing. Here are some of my favorite channels:

Google Business

The Google Business Channel on YouTube

This channel features videos that teach you how to take full advantage of all the free tools available to help you advertise online with Google search and its display network. Check out the video titled “Getting Started with AdWords“.

Google Analytics

It can be a powerful tool showing you how your Website performs in any number of ways, but first you have to know how to use it. While you might have to sift through some of the videos, like the the Q&A series with Vinash Kaushik & Nick Mihailovski, I have found many golden nuggets of information. Start with “Beginning Analytics: Interpreting and Acting on Your Data“.

Google Web Master Central

Want to know how to make better use of your website? This channel features videos that teach you how increase organic search traffic by correcting crawling, indexing and other common errors and improving its overall performance. The video titled “Google Webmaster Tools” offers a good overview.

Facebook

The Official Facebook Channel covers a variety of topics of interest to users, page masters and developers. Want to know more about deals, sponsored stories or even the latest security features. Take a peek at “Building Your Brand with Facebook.”

LinkedIn Marketing

This is probably one of the weaker channels on my list. LinkedIn has yet to fully take advantage of YouTube for teaching company profile managers and advertisers how to make better use of its service. The few videos that are here, however, do have some good tips on how to network on LinkedIn. I like the example featuring Darrell Rheah, CEO of Cheskin, titled “LinkedIn Users – Consulting Agency.

Harvard Business

This channel covers a lot more than marketing, but any business leader who has ever picked up a copy of Harvard Business review will find value in this Channel. While most of it is tied to content and events related to the publication, you will find playlists that cover managing people, leadership, strategy, innovation and more. I like the video titled “The Five Competitive Forces That Shape Strategy.”

Common Craft

No list of marketing videos would be complete without a nod to Common Craft, a Seattle-based company that produces simple videos to explain complex subjects in ways that elementary school students can understand. Some of their videos are commissioned and owned by various clients, but this channel features several to which I refer folks all the time. One of my favorites is “Social Media in Plain English“.

To what channels do you subscribe? Let me know by placing your choices in the comments. You can also follow this topic on Quora.

Thanks for reading,

Kevin Bush, Principal & CEO
Rainier Sky Marketing & Public Relations

Is Your Organization Ready for Social Media?

Posted by Rainier Sky on February 10, 2011

I had a conversation with a prospective client yesterday who was interested, but not convinced, that his small business could benefit from social media. I advised him, as I do everyone, that social media does not work for every business. So, I offered to type up a few questions to help him make his decision and thought I would share them here as well. The answers to these questions will also help determine which strategy and tactics to use if you do proceed.

What do you want to accomplish?

Social media can do many things. It can help generate sales, improve customer service and provide a forum to demonstrate thought leadership. Sales may be the most important of these examples, but many businesses will find value in other benefits as well.

How open is your organization’s culture?

Certain businesses are prone to closed cultures, such as those in heavily regulated industries related to insurance, banking and health. Others are run by control freaks afraid to give up any control. Assuming your business is more transparent, you should start by setting expectations with a reasonable social media policy that allows employees to act with transparency and authenticity when engaging customers on their employer’s behalf.

How are your customers currently using social media?

You may just have a lot of customers using various social networks, but are they using them for business? I still run into people in my own profession who restrict their Facebook accounts to their personal lives and use LinkedIn or other professional networks for business. Most social networks offer potential advertisers free audience research tools that might just tell you whether and how your customers are using each social network.

What resources does your organization have to invest?

Some organizations are late to the social media game for the undeniable reason that they have no one on staff with the interest to explore it. Perhaps, no one on staff uses social media or the ones who do have little or no influence within the organization. If so, who is going to manage it? I usually don’t advocate that my clients farm out their social media, simply because it’s rarely as effective as programs managed internally. Social media should be managed by someone with intimate knowledge of your product or service, the creative and communications ability to generate a continuous stream of content, the autonomy to represent your organization publicly, and the authority to take appropriate action in a responsive manner. Who is this person in your organization?

Are your customers willing to discuss their use of your products or service?

I am not just talking about personal consumer products. I worked with one product development firm whose clients preferred that no one know about their work. We had to focus on generalities that limited credibility and made it more challenging to demonstrate thought leadership. Social media focuses on relationships that you cannot develop if your customers will not engage.

What is the current condition of your organization’s online assets?

When was the last time you updated your website? Is your Facebook page up to par? How about your company’s LinkedIn page? Do you have a effective template for landing pages? It’s one thing to generate traffic, but where are you going to send it? Don’t overlook the importance of driving it where it will do the most good.

At the very least, your answers to these questions will help you get a head start on a solid social media plan that takes advantage of your strengths and accounts for any weakness.

Thanks for reading,

Kevin Bush, Principal & CEO
Rainier Sky Marketing & Public Relations

Five Advertising Campaigns I Love and Five I Hate

Posted by Rainier Sky on January 29, 2011

My last couple of posts have been a bit too serious. I promised myself that I would try to make this blog fun and interesting. This topic got me thinking about the campaigns that do push me one way or the other, so here goes…

Five Advertising Campaigns I Hate

I always prefer to start with the bad news, so let’s start with the campaigns I do not like.

Sprint - Restaurant

The Sprint Television Spot "Restuarant"

Sprint

Why would a company depict its customers as self-centered jerks. Consider the cruel (insert NSFW comment here) who breaks up with her boyfriend in a Restaurant using her new Sprint phone. Then there is the doctor focused more on updating his fantasy football team than the player who is just now realizing his Injury has brought his season to an untimely end. Lest we forget the condescending Neighbor in love with the creativity his own holiday insults. Self-improvement guru W. Clement Stone advised his readers to surround themselves with people they want to become, yet all I want to do is punch these people in the face.

Bridgestone

The Slip Sliding spot clearly falls into the category of how stupid do you think we are. The television ad begins with scenes of cars sliding uncontrollably down steep, icy hills then cuts to the vehicle with Bridgestone tires moving easily up a low grade hill covered by warm, melting slush. Are we not suppose to notice the difference? I live in the Seattle area. We have hills here.

Washyourhandsington

This public information campaign was launched by the Washington State Department of Health to encourage citizens to wash their hands regularly as a way to stave off a epidemic of H1N1 flu. I know how hard it is to put together a public campaign that sticks, but that’s my problem with this one – they succeeded. I heard the radio spot the other day and could not get it out of my head.

Five Advertising Campaigns I Love

Now let’s move on to the good news. Here are five campaigns I enjoy.

Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival Cruise Lines - Mom Just Caught Air

Carnival Cruise Lines - Mom Just Caught Air

I absolutely love the spot titled Mom Just Got Air. It reminds me of the time my petite wife took to the skies on a friend’s para sail. Boy, how I wish my kids could have seen their mom that day. It’s a memory that sticks in my mind much like Carnival suggests that its cruises will affect yours. Carnival also has a pretty cool Facebook campaign as well featuring videos not available elsewhere.

ETrade

I didn’t care much for the movie Look who’s Talking now, but this campaign is creativity at its finest. The customer is smart, informative and entertaining. My favorite ETrade spot is a close tie between Solitary and Documentary. The Outtakes are hilarious. Of course, ETrade needs to be careful not to upset any celebrities. Lindsay Lohan recently filed a lawsuit against the financial services firm claiming that its reference to a Milkaholic baby too closely resembled the troubled actor.

Vern Fonk Insurance

I took a few drama classes in high school and college, and the part I enjoyed the most was the excuse it gave me to get goofy and make others laugh. Here in the Puget sound area we have a local insurance broker that is doing just that. Fonk and his cohorts make no excuses and must be having a ball producing more spots for their regional campaign than most national advertisers. His older ads were more traditional and serious, but I suspect he’s had better response from his more recent spots focused more on generating brand awareness. Targeting young drivers facing the tough reality of buying insurance with a serious infraction on their record – I suspect a high dollar, high commission product – Fonk targets spots like Sasquatch and Old Habits to programming that entertains with politically incorrect humor. A good fit for his goofy persona. Of course, some of the spots are just downright weird.

Nissan

What little boy hasn’t had a Kidzilla moment where he destroys his toys. It reminds me of all the terrible things I did to my G.I. Joe dolls, burying them in the dirt, tying firecrackers to their backs and launching them airborne for our Great Dane to catch in her mouth. What a great way to imply the durability of a vehicle like the Nissan Maxima. It brings out the kid in us and reminds us that we still like to push the envelope a bit now and then. Then again, the ladies might not care for Nissan’s Pathfinder spot from Iceland which approaches NSFW.

Charles Schwab

These spots may not be as fun as the others, but they still click with me. Chuck gets real with his latest spots targeting the common investor. I love the line in the spot titled Retirement where the actor says, “Come on, a vineyard?” Then there’s the one titled Unexpected. How many times have you wanted to say, “come on, surprise me”, to a financial services representative?

What ads do you love and hate the most?

Thanks for reading,

Kevin Bush, Principal & CEO
Rainier Sky Marketing & Public Relations

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