Social Media:

The Social Media Prenup: Do You Really Need One?

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Visit a legal document site and you’re apt to find just about anything. But an item that’s becoming increasingly popular of late is the social media prenup.

It’s a document couples sign that dictates what they can and can’t post, tweet, or share about each other. ABC News recently picked up on the trend, and pointed out that saying what a person can’t do can be a risky move.

Is it really necessary and, more important, what’s at the core of its popularity?

Critics suggest that a couple that needs such an agreement probably has bigger issues, but people say the same about folks who draw up “regular” prenups. While it’s a good idea to have a social media guru at the helm if you’re a business owner, do you really need a legally binding agreement to make sure your significant other tags you only in the most flattering photos?

According to many social media professionals, you might as well save your money and exercise basic courtesy.

Be nice on social media

Most people know when a photo isn’t flattering, but they’ll usually tag it anyway. In other cases, a person may look at him- or herself in a photo and doesn’t think about it from anyone else’s perspective.

Consider it from that aspect before you post no-makeup pics, swimsuit photos, or a first photo of the morning shot, no matter who it is. If you wouldn’t want it done to you, don’t do it to someone else. Too often, people forget to observe the golden rule on social media.

The same thing goes for posting private information, even if you don’t explicitly name the person. People aren’t stupid, and they can infer (correctly or not) a lot of things from your “cryptic” comments.

Keep your personal life to yourself, don’t air your dirty laundry, and remember that screen shots ensure that once something’s online, it’s there for good.

Keep emotions in check

Posting while angry or frustrated can lead you into a lot of trouble. Keep your fights offline, and remember that your sense of humor won’t necessarily appeal to everyone.

You might come off as rude, childish, or immature, and you drag other people into your personal life. Even if you apologize online, you’ll mainly be putting cracks in the foundation of your relationship for all to see, and providing free entertainment.

It’s unfortunate that people have perceived a need for a social media prenup, but it’s not Mt. Everest: You don’t have to obtain it just because it’s there.

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Content Marketing In 2014: 4 Tips For Success

Content-Marketing

As 2014 rolls on, business owners want to know which Internet marketing strategies they should be using to increase conversion rates and expand their customer base. While there are a variety of strategies to accomplish this objective, content is still king in the world of online advertising.

This being the case, businesses interested in experiencing continual growth and expansion in the online world should remind themselves that interesting, informative content has to be integral to their strategic plan. Here are four tips to make your content great (and therefore more marketable).

1. Keep your content scannable

As noted by Nielsen Norman Group, the majority of Internet users do not read the articles they pull up in their entirety. Instead, they scan.

Since readers prefer content that’s “scannable,” business owners who want to market their blog posts and articles effectively should ensure that they can be skimmed for the information the reader wants. There are several strategies you can employ to make your content scannable, including headers, bullets, and numbered lists.

2. Include videos

Videos have become tremendously popular on the Internet. Clearly, more and more people are accessing them.

Video Brewery has commented on some of comScore’s significant findings regarding online engagement with videos. For example, 45% of Internet users view a minimum of one online video per month.

Additionally, the average Internet user sees about 32.2 videos per month. Numerous people have stated that videos help them make more informed purchasing decisions, so business owners who want to make their content marketable should think about including links to descriptive videos with their content.

3. Use catchy titles

One of the most effective content marketing strategies that business owners can use to attract the attention of potential customers is catchy titles. There are a variety of things that can be done to make a title catchy, such as putting it in question format.

In citing the efficacy of this strategy, Mashable referenced Huffington Post’s ingenious article title “What Time Is the Super Bowl?” In addition to posing meaningful questions and reeling readers in by suggesting you will provide a useful and accurate answer, other catchy title ideas include the use of words such as “secret” and “how to” in your headline.

4. Be substantive

Although many readers are interested in being entertained by content, most are primarily concerned about obtaining the information they’re looking for. As noted by Supple Solutions in its article ”Insights to the Future of Digital Marketing,” research indicates that 78% of people who use the Internet do so to conduct product research.

Since this is the case, making your blog posts and/or articles informative is still key to ensuring that your content is marketable.

Summing it all up

This year, content marketing remains one of the most effective methods of Internet advertising to catch and keep the attention of prospective customers. If you’re a business owner, it’s important for you to expand your operations in the online world by implementing proven techniques that take your content from good to great.

By integrating some or all of the aforementioned tricks into your company’s strategic Internet marketing plan, you will likely find yourself gathering more and more attention from your target audience.

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last update: September 17, 2014

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Searching for Tech Support Leads to Scams

If you were a hacker and created a site to obtain sensitive information, what sort of site would it be? According to computer experts, the most popular type of site is one devoted to tech support, because consumers instinctively trust such companies. tech support

There are certainly hundreds of legitimate tech support companies out there, so how can you distinguish a scam site from a real one? You certainly shouldn’t assume the top search results are the most reputable.

Kevin Boynton is the owner of a Richmond-based computer repair company. He says, “I get calls all the time from people saying ‘they took my money, I let them into my computer and they said they fixed all the problems and if I have any more problems, give them a call back but then they didn’t fix my problem.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, these people never get another reply. If you’re looking for a reputable tech support company, read reviews, talk to a live person, and get those testimonials.

The biggest niche

According to Boynton, the most common scams happen when consumers are looking for help with computers, not more complex tech help. “They see a phone number that says call us now for support, and they think okay.”

Many of these consumers never bother to do their research; they blindly trust what might be a marketing scam. “They will answer the phone as HP Support, but they are going to give you a hard sale and they are going to try to talk you into buying some sort of support,” Boynton warns.

Somewhat on the plus side, many of these scam artists are “just” out for your money and are not seeking to install malicious software on your computer. If you’re looking for a technician to actually repair your computer, be wary of any high pressure sales.

While this may not be illegal, it’s an iffy business model that indicates they don’t put the customer first. Plus, you can always challenge credit card purchases if you didn’t agree to the purchase.

Bigger fish in the sea

On the other hand, some sites are indeed designed strictly to steal your information. These probably won’t turn up among the top Google search results, but some companies do a great job of manipulating search engine optimization (SEO) for short periods of time to get higher rankings and attract potential victims.

If a “support company” is actually doing something illegal, they’ll be caught soon enough, but possibly not in time to save you. Your best move is to trust your gut, do your homework, and rely on real reviews.

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Open Letter: The Web We Want

We’ve become dependent on the web as a civilization. Our future – the children – are dependent on it as well. Shouldn’t it be accessible by all? If you agree with Firefox that user privacy is important and that the web is for everyone, join them. Sound off at http://mzl.la/1hHyqBq

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Signs You’ll Thrive at an Online University

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Do you dream of earning a degree while writing term papers on your couch in comfy pajamas with Grey’s Anatomy on mute? It can be a reality for students at an online university, but not everyone is cut out for it.

While you might be able to train yourself to complete a degree program, you might be better suited to a more structured atmosphere where you have to attend lectures and show up to class in person. Are you ready to find out which camp you likely belong to?

First, you should recognize that any reputable online university is accredited and has likely been around for some time. In many cases, these online universities are actually virtual versions of brick-and-mortar schools.

This can be convenient since there’s still a bit of a stigma in certain circles toward online degrees, although that’s been changing. Going online isn’t a shortcut or “easier,” but it can certainly be more convenient. So what might indicate this is for you?

1. You hate procrastination

You’ll have deadlines and perhaps even more work in an online university, so you’ll need to thrive with your own time management. Some students need a professor physically breathing down their necks in order to get assignments in on time. If you’re prone to procrastination, this might not be for you.

2. You’re a total Type A

Type A personalities do phenomenally well with online schools because they’re naturally driven and ambitious, and want to do their best. If this is you, make sure the online school has plenty of options for working virtually in groups, so you don’t get a case of cabin fever. Many Type A’s are also extroverts, but not all of them.

3. You’re a bit of a loner

This might seem to fly in the face of sign number two above, but for those who always hated raising their hand in class and feel they communicate better in writing, online universities are a place you can shine. It’s a medium that’s more comfortable for you and allows you to process and reflect rather than being forced into the Socratic method.

4. You’re tech savvy

No matter how user-friendly the classroom, you’re going to need some tech skills to succeed with an online school. If you’re naturally inclined toward technology, this might be a perfect match. If you’re not, there are training courses to help you catch up.

Think you have what it takes to make the most of an online university? Then it’s time to start preparing and researching which schools are your best match.

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Google Acquires Titan Aerospace

What do Google and aerospace have in common? A lot, it turns out, now that the tech giant has officially announced that it’s buying Titan Aerospace in an effort to cover the globe with Internet connectivity, compliments of balloons and drones from the sky.

The Wall Street Journal initially reported the acquisition on Monday, April 14, but it took two days to get a confirmation. Now, the aerospace team has said it will start working with “Project Loon,” a pet Google project, in order to create high-altitude balloons that will provide low-cost Wi-Fi to rural regions.

If you haven’t heard of Titan before, the company designed drones that are solar-powered and fly above sea level. A startup based in New Mexico, Titan says the drones can “fly continuously for years” because of solar-charged batteries located in the wings.

However, the technology hasn’t been proven yet. (What about severe storms?) This isn’t the first time Titan has had tech giants sniffing around: Facebook attempted to acquire the company to get 11,000 Solara 60 drones.

No Facebook friends here

The details of how or why the Facebook acquisition fell through are vague, but what’s known is that Facebook went with a UK aircraft company, Ascenta, instead. Ascenta and Titan use similar technology, so it appears that Facebook is also attempting to build a private global Wi-Fi network.

Mark Zuckerberg wrote about his thoughts on drones in a white paper. In his opinion, they’ll be better than balloons for providing Internet to rural areas.

It looks like Google has arrived at a similar perspective, because Titan is on board to garner data that will help Google Maps as well as a number of systems in far-off places. Google is also on track to acquire a number of robotics companies to help gather airborne data, such as Boston Dynamics, the makers of DARPA’s killer robots.

Staying on top of things

The same way you wouldn’t want to miss out on re-certification for your career, Google isn’t taking any chances in building a veritable robot army. It’s rumored that the search giant might be angling to create a GATAMAM system, or Google all-terrain automated mapper, analyzer, and manipulator, which can instantly get data to support many services and simultaneously connect them around the world.

Google says, “Titan Aerospace and Google share a profound optimism about the potential for technology to improve the world. It’s why we’re so excited to welcome Titan Aerospace to the Google family.”

To the rest of us, though, this may sound more like another step toward world domination by Google.

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Gnip is the Latest Twitter Acquisition

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Gnip and Twitter had been playing nicely for a long time, but much like a twin that swallows its sibling in the womb, it was time for Twitter to acquire Gnip.

The analytics firm had been helping Twitter climb into the black. Apparently it did so well that the social media giant developed the means to purchase its partner. Gnip has a proven reputation for utilizing social media feeds, analyzing them, and then making that information financially useful.

There are four companies that have that level of access to Twitter feeds, the others being WordPress, Tumblr, and FourSquare.

Of course, public sites like Facebook can also get access to this information, so what made Gnip a must-have? Twitter’s VP of Business Development and Platform Jana Messerschmidt said, “Gnip has played a crucial role in collecting and digesting our public data and delivering the most essential Tweets to partners.”

Twitter certainly knows what it’s doing in the realm of all things marketing, but even a social media star can use a little help.

Tweeting deeper

Messerschmidt continued, “We believe Gnip has only begun to scratch the surface. Together, we plan to offer more sophisticated data sets and better data enrichments, so that even more developers and businesses big and small around the world can drive innovation using the unique content that’s shared on Twitter.”

For others who are using Gnip, service will remain the same. They’ll still get complete access to Gnip data, but Twitter will help by expanding how much data is gleaned from social media sites.

Until any expansions are made, Twitter gets to sit back and watch the cash roll in from the surplus of tweets of its user base. Chris Moody, CEO of Gnip, says, “We’ll be able to support a broader set of cases across a diverse set of users, including brands, universities, agencies, and developers big and small. Joining Twitter also provides us access to resources and infrastructure to scale to the next level and offer new products and solutions.”

It seems to be a win-win situation for everyone involved, and that includes stockholders.

Bringing home the bacon

When the acquisition was announced, Twitter’s stock shot up by more than ten percent and Wall Street was all a’twitter. That’s great news for investors and stockholders who have been watching Twitter stock steadily decline since the beginning of the year.

Now, analysts are saying that Twitter has revamped its financial strategy and has what it takes to be a real money-maker someday.

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Google Stocks Take a Nosedive

April 16, 2014 was a gloomy day for Google and its investors. Stock prices dipped three percent in after-hours trading.

This is the first time this quarter that earnings and sales alike fell short of expectations. The biggest concern was the massive nine percent loss in payments that came from marketers per ad on the many Google sites.

Google is charged with encouraging marketers to pony up cash for mobile ads just like they do for desktop ads, but that’s been a tough sell.

It’s no secret that mobile users have outpaced desktop users recently, but for some reason marketers haven’t been willing to make that jump with them just yet. With so many expert marketing agencies Google has to woo, Chief Business Officer of the tech giant, Nikesh Arora, says that “The journey is just beginning for advertisers on the mobile side.”

As retailers scramble to play catch-up and incorporate responsive design to make themselves mobile-friendly, ads get moved to the back burner.

Google’s clock is ticking

That’s an understandable conundrum, but it does nothing to support Google’s stock values. Arora notes, “Right now, we can lead the horse to water, but we can’t make it drink.”

The company is pushing an enhanced campaign that debuted in 2013, and centers on making advertisers purchase across multiple platforms. But it hasn’t been the segue piece that Google had hoped would take off.

But the picture is not all doom and gloom. Google reports sales of $15.4 billion in 2014’s first quarter, which represents an increase of 19 percent compared to 2013.

Plus, people are clicking on 26 percent more advertisements in comparison with last year, and total earnings are at $3.45 billion, which is also better than 2013. This comes on the heels of the two-for-one stock split in early April 2014, which provoked considerable controversy.

A classy move

Google now has new Class C shares, which are traded under the GOOG ticker but do not allow investors to enjoy any voting rights at the annual shareholder meetings. If you have Class A shares, you still get voting rights.

The split was approved in court after a group of shareholders filed a lawsuit to block it from happening. That may have contributed to the 5.5 percent stock decline in the past 30 days.

Be that as it may, Google is moving forward, and spending big bucks on new technologies such as the recent purchase of Titan Aerospace. Purchasing a startup to get hold of solar-powered drones might give Google the boost it needs to drive stock prices back in the right direction.

If a drone can’t save Google, what can?

 

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