It was in 1996 that Steve Jobs was reinstated as the CEO of Apple which was on the brink of bankruptcy. The rest as they say is history. The man not only saved the company from bankruptcy but ensured that it is counted amongst the top 10 best companies around the world. What’s even fascinating to note in the saga of Steve Jobs is that brand Steve Jobs was stronger than brand Apple.
In fact, after his sad demise recently, many were seen talking in hushed tones about the fate of Apple now. Would the company be able to sustain itself or would it again crash in the absence of its captain. That’s the power of personal branding. Whether you are the CEO of a company or an employee in a large organization, if you have a powerful personal brand, it adds immense value to the business you are in.
In the globalized world of today, where almost everything is on the internet, personal branding is both an easy as well as difficult task. It easy because you have plenty of avenues to project yourself as an expert in your field; it is difficult because you can easily be found out there and even slightest of mistakes can ruin the brand called You. Talking of avenues online, here are some important mediums which can make or break your personal brand in this fiercely competitive world.
Importance of Facebook Branding
FaceBook is the new internet, quite literally. With 800 million users and growing, almost everybody with an internet connection is one FaceBook today. Recently, FaceBook has also launched the subscribe feature which lets users subscribe to interesting pages and people without being friends. That means if you are the CEO of a company or at the helm of things, people will definitely check out your page on FaceBook.
It is the leader of an organization which determines the value of brand in the eyes of the customers. Thus, you need to make sure that your FaceBook page projects a positive personal image.
Even if you are not the leader of an organization, your FaceBook page matters a lot. Recent study has suggested that social media is influencing the way HR personnel are hiring the world over. Here are some complete no-no’s when it comes to FaceBook as a medium for your personal branding:
- Keep the pics from that wild night out last night out personal. Make sure only your closest friends get to see such pics. You can always tweak the settings in your FaceBook account.
- Make meaningful updates. In order to come across as a serious individual, don’t just update your status for the heck of it. Keep it interesting and if possible, related to your skills and expertise. For example, if you are a copywriter, you can always post new slogans that you coin every now and then. If you are a techie, posting links to interesting bits of news in the world of technology is a good idea.
- Let the world know about important happenings. It is important to use FaceBook about important happenings in your professional life. It could be success in a project or simply thinking about new ideas to grow your business.
Importance of personal website
While FaceBook is about connecting with the world out there, a personal website is about blowing your own trumpet. A personal website not only ensures that people have a chance to know the real you, it also means better visibility on search engines. Unless you are a Steve Jobs whose life has been an open book, you do need good visibility to create a buzz around your personal brand. A personal website can help you do that.
Importance of Twitter
If you thought people only follow celebs on Twitter, you are wrong. Ever since twitter came on the horizon, the task of discovering new things has become that much easier for people. Twitter users follow all kinds of interesting people- bloggers, experts in various fields and even the sarcastically humorous ones out there. Twitter is the perfect example of what viral marketing is. If you have interesting enough content to share, you can quickly become popular on Twitter Sphere. And if you commit an embarrassing mistake, you can still become popular on Twitter, albeit the wrong way. Need I say more about the importance of Twitter for personal branding?
Twitter also holds fantastic importance for top business honchos out there. People love to know about brands they are part of. Twitter gives CEOs the opportunity to engage their consumers directly and ensure good branding for their organization. A perfect example of the above is the CEO of Mahindra and Mahindra Anand Mahindra. He makes it a point to answer his followers’ questions and keep them updated about the latest happenings. It definitely has had a positive impact on the branding of Mahindra and Mahindra.
Importance of LinkedIn
LinkedIn is social media for the professional world. Whether you are a freelancer, an executive or a top honcho, trust your business associates, partners and colleagues to glance at your LinkedIn profile at some point or the other. To use LinkedIn as an effective tool for personal branding, make sure you have spent enough time to make a professional looking profile on the site.
Highlight your strengths and make sure your LinkedIn profile is search engine optimized too. And avoid a very common mistake people commit with their LinkedIn profiles- linking it with their Twitter account and tweeting all kinds of stuff.
If you have linked your LinkedIn profile with twitter, make sure you tweet only important stuff which projects a positive image for yourself. If you use Twitter for personal interactions, linking your Twitter account with your LinkedIn profile is never a good idea. It can corrode your personal brand quicker than you think.
Importance of YouTube
Videos are one of the best mediums for viral marketing. The recent online rage Kolavei Di vindicates that point. If you really want your personal brand to go viral, there is no better platform than You Tube. People love to follow YouTube channels that are informative or those with interesting content. As an individual, you can tap the potential of You Tube to give your personal brand the extra mileage.
Importance of Personalized e-mails
Almost everyone either has a Yahoo account or a Gmail account these days. Branding, whether personal or otherwise, is about standing out from the rest out there. If you want to come across as a dedicated individual who has the required professionalism, a personalized e-mail address can leave that impact. Getting a personalized e-mail address is easy with Google Apps and it is available for free. A personalized e-mail address ensures you have a unique e-mail address and thus, a high recall value.
You don’t like a website with too much on a single page and a cluttered look, right? The same goes for your online web-store too. Customers hate to use websites which have too many categories and sub-categories to navigate. But, as an owner running a web-store, you have to put all your products online, even if they are more than a hundred, because that’s business for you. That’s where Magento development can help you.
What is Magento
Magento is an open-source software which lets you manage different websites and store-view with ease. In other words, let’s say you have an e-commerce platform with hundred different products on display. Such a large number of products on a single platform create confusion. The solution to eliminate this clutter and still have all your products online is to create different web-stores for different products.
With Magento, we can do that with ease. Magento helps create multiple children websites out of your main platform, with each website linked to the main platform. Thus, you get a central inventory system from where you can manage all your web-stores and the products on those stores with ease.
A complete B2B and a B2C solution
Whether you have a B2B model or a B2C model, Magento development can come in handy in both the cases. Here’s how:
- Let’s say you have a B2B model whereby you sell your products to agents who then sell it to the consumers. With Magento, you can create a different web-store for each agent, giving him the products of his choice only, without creating a website from scratch. Thus, with Magento, you can create a sub-store of your main online store within minutes, which helps you save time as well as money.
- At the same time, you have a central inventory system which is useful for you as well as your agents. The agents get to know the number of products remaining in your inventory while you get to know the number of products sold through all your agents; hence, a better analysis of your sales and better management for your agents. They can even opt or new products that you add to your inventory without you having to add data separately to their web-stores.
- Same is the case with a B2C solution. You give your customers easily navigable webstores, with the option of displaying multiple images for a product and other features which allow for easy product browsing.
- It has been seen that e-commerce platforms with an easy-to-use interface and more product images have higher sales than other platforms. And that’s what Magento development helps you achieve.
Some other features which make Magento an excellent B2B and a B2C solution for e-commerce are:
- Agents can choose their own rates for the products they sell, while you still get to keep track of the sales
- Agents can choose their own mode of payment, thus giving them the freedom to customize
- You can incorporate all the features of the main store in the child-stores
- Easy product browsing for customers, giving them a better shopping experience
- Customers can add products to a wishlist for buying them later
- Customers can view the status of their order and their shopping history, thus leading to better customer satisfaction
Custom web development
Now, when we say Magento creates children web-stores out of your main store, it does mean it simple replicates your main store. In fact, each web-store created with Magento is fully customizable. Magento is a complete custom web development solution. You can decide the layout, design, features and other aesthetic aspects of all your sub-stores, thus giving your agents and your customers the kind of platform they like.
With Magento’s custom web development feature, you can also choose which data to share between your different web-stores and which data to keep exclusive to a particular web-store.
Search engine friendly e-commerce solution
And if you thought Magento is only easier web management, think again. Magento has in-built search engine friendly tools which help in the process of search engine optimization. Magento automatically generates search engine friendly URLs as well as a sitemap which can be submitted to search engines. It even gives you the option of rewriting the URLs to give you complete control over your product pages’ structure. In addition to that, this open-source software also generates a popular search terms page which saves time on keyword analysis. It’s even integrated with Google analytics to help in analysis of visitors to your site and SEO analysis of your e-commerce platform.
That’s what makes Magento a search engine friendly e-commerce solution.
It has a range of other features which give you a robust e-commerce solution and help you in increasing your sales. And you get that by saving cost as well as time, thus making Magento a win-win solution for you.
The year 2011 is almost here and it is the start of a new decade. But sadly, most people are still stuck with the decade old SEO techniques, which deliver results only for a short while. It is time people realized the evolving face of SEO and make the switch to SEO 2.0. I wish you all a very happy and prosperous new year, as I move into the top 10 rankings of Google, within a span of 1 month, thanks to a better SEO strategy. May this new year bring with it loads of joy, happiness and success for all of you.
As businesses grow more complex, ensuring a unique online visibility becomes tougher by the day; old SEO techniques no longer remain effective. When the blogging world was smaller and simpler, techniques like keyword linking and site rankings did benefit the average blogger looking for an easy route to online presence.
But in today’s cut-throat world of continuous learning and dynamic campaigning, you need a more effective and a more street-smart promotional strategy to take your website ahead in the race.
Millions of websites are created today, all seeking the same goal and target audience. If you continue to stick to the age-old SEO methods, you are likely to be lost in the crowd. You need to update yourself with the latest SEO techniques.
Here is a partial list of the old SEO techniques and how SEO 2.0, as the new SEO is popularly called, can help you with your visibility efforts.
1: Link Baiting
It is the old SEO technique whereby a person tries to drive customers to his site or blog by giving people improper or incomplete information. Many social media sites like DIGG, blacklist ‘link baiting’ as it unethically goads users to take action and is manipulative. However, latest SEO strategies look at ‘link baiting’ from a new perspective. The idea is to respect users, and create reasons for them to consciously link to your site. This can be done in three ways:
- Providing incentives, such as a review of their site, because of which people will link to your site.
- Giving people the information they need, by creating interesting content, because of which they will link to you site.
- Being innovative and controversial in one’s opinion, and making statements that go against popular opinion; this piques people’s curiosity, makes them disagree, and incites them to link to your site. More than being provocative, it’s about being fresh and honest.
2: Bad blog commenting etiquette
Old SEO techniques focus on incoherent commenting on blogs and etiquettes. They do not pay any heed to the rules and regulations of commenting on forums, or on blogs for that matter. Such disregard for other people and forcefully intruding in their discussions is not only going to get you negative PR but will also result in your comments getting blocked, which will not help your SEO efforts. Here are a couple of examples of bad blog commenting:
Amazing blog and very interesting stuff you got here! I definitely learned a lot from reading through some of your earlier posts as well and decided to drop a comment on this one! Anyways, I just signed up for your newsletter and will definitely come back for more. Feel free to do the same for my blog when you get a chance! Also, if you are looking to do some guest posting or promoting some of my products definitely check out my blog… All the best, Dino Vedo PS: Like my Facebook fan page and follow me on Twitter and I’ll do the same for you!
Hi there. Is it okay that I kinda off topic? I am trying to view the site on my new Mac but it doesn’t show correctly, do you have any solutions? Shall I try and find a fix for my computer or something? Thanks! Jo x
Commenting is used in SEO 2.0 as well, but in a manner which is beneficial. Rather than posting comments on blogs and forums randomly and then forgetting about them, one should actively take part in discussions and post the link to one’s website only after making two or three useful comments on a thread. That way, one comes across as more genuine, and that prompts the readers to follow the posted link.
3: Sticking to obsolete blogging
Blogger maybe the first blog platform to hit the internet, but it hardly works these days if SEO is your motive. WordPress is the most cutting edge technology for managing content and blog publishing. With in-built search engine optimization, link management system, automatic filters etc., it is definitely the most user-friendly and effective tool. Just to let you in on its popularity, WordPress 3.0 has been downloaded 12.5 million times as of August 2010! It is imperative that you have a WordPress blog for your business if you want your website on the first page of a search engine; old SEO techniques miss this point more often than not.
4: Targetting only a handful of keywords
Most websites and SEO firms target the popular, top 10-20 keywords, and their strategy aims to maintain high ranking for those keywords. Try something better. Turn the 80/20 rule on its head and target the long tail. Targeting hundreds of less frequently used keywords is a more viable business strategy. Take the case study of Amazon.com, which builds on keywords outside of the popular ones, and this strategy accounts for 57% of their sales.
5: Ignoring Social Media
Old SEO techniques ignore the social media completely, treating it as something solely for the teenagers. If you are serious about SEO, don’t ignore it. Social media, according to Wikipedia, are “the online tools and platforms that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other.” In other words, social media websites are an online version of word of mouth. Social Media Optimization (SMO), can be seen as complimentary to SEO techniques, and a good SEO consultant should be well versed in both. It is done through:
- Adding features to the website and blog content to make it more social media friendly. This involves having tools that make tagging, bookmarking, and linking easy.
- Active promotion of the website and its content in social media through blogging, posting updates on social media sites and participating in discussion groups
6: An all Google strategy
An obsolete SEO strategy is one which gives Google all the importance while ignoring the rest. In the current, competitive e-marketing scenario, depending on one major source for traffic is a risky SEO strategy. The best marketing strategy is to have a diverse approach, where multiple points are created from where traffic can be directed to your website. This could include PPC, article marketing, social media marketing, as well as focusing on a variety of search engines.
7: Going the popular way
For your website to be popular, popular marketing techniques won’t help, innovative will. And that is exactly the point which the traditional SEO firms miss. Guerilla marketing techniques, which are high on time, energy and imagination often work out better than a popular, expensive campaign. For example, you can ask people who visit your website to write something personal, provide them with a horoscope reading, use T-shirts with attractive slogans to promote your blog etc. Such techniques will give you an advantage over your competitors, as they are less frequently used.
8: Ignoring web design
The traditional SEO people still think that web design has nothing to do with SEO. And they could not be more wrong. A website high on easy usability fetches much more traffic than an average one. Using style sheet languages such as CSS to design your website in a systematic way, with well organized portions for different content, help make your site popular. The idea is to have layouts, colors and fonts that are not only pleasing to the eye, but convenient to user as well.
9: Staying put with a single media
Traditional SEO still uses the writing method alone when executing the optimization of a website. While writing is no doubt the most effective, taking advantage of multiple media helps you beat your competition, and that’s what name of the game is. New SEO techniques are all about making one’s strategy wider, and all inclusive. Make use of videos, audio, pictures and anything and everything that may make the people interested in your product or service.
‘Internet Economy’ is a lucrative field today, with success stories such as Steve Wozniak and Apple computers and Sabeer Bhatia’s Hotmail. Naturally, everyone wants to get a share of these much ‘touted’ e-commerce profits. However, to succeed in the online world, businesses need to know all the possible causes of failure, even though it seems like an exercise in pessimism.
These are the common reasons why many startup e-businesses fail
Web businesses that have nothing new to offer, and are mere clones of an already successful business, don’t succeed. Does your e-business sell a product that is innovative? Is there something completely new about your social networking website? The key to avoid typecasting is to stay fresh. Look for problems and needs that you can solve.
Not defining your customer
The first rule in selling is to know your customer. Some startup e-businesses offer a variety of services and products, not knowing the profile of the users. As a result, they cannot offer tailor-made services for any specific age group or nature of target audience and this reduces the chances of succeeding.
The best marketing strategy is a well calculated plan. Marketing is the backbone of any business. A web site that has been creatively marketed without any regard to user acquisition costs might become cost ineffective.
For example, even buying keyword ads is a complex process. A good entrepreneur buys keywords that people most frequently use in searches while having high relevance and low competing advertisers. A common mistake most businesses make while cost cutting, is not hiring professional marketing consultants. They work on instinct, and their marketing plans lack a well researched strategy. This makes their marketing strategies ineffective. So the websites they make have inadequate SEO, SEM, and low virality, which results in low traffic to their website.
Poor web designing
Today, most websites seem like clones. Businesses make compromises while designing their web pages. They use free software and badly designed user interfaces. So, first-time visitors find the home page unattractive and it fails to register in their minds. It is highly unlikely they will ever go back to a web site that’s hard to navigate, is poorly designed and does not offer them something interactive.
A person who wants to use an online personalized gift services will look at several companies that provide the service. He is likely to choose the site which gets the first rule of ‘catchingeyeballs’ right, more so when you are dealing with the business of ‘feel-good’- gifts.
Web businesses with cluttered, badly color coordinated websites, which have long download time and unclear navigational tools don’t work. Only professionally designed, well branded websites, with original and relevant content can be effectively marketed.
Given these reasons, it is best to employ the services of a web designing company to ensure significant online presence.
Lack of web analysis
Web Designing Vs Web Development. Web analysis is a process of analyzing the behavior of visitors to a website and then enhancing and modifying the features of the website to maintain and increase the traffic. Many web businesses design a website and then forget about it; and the resources invested in web designing go waste.Such e-businesses have no feedback regarding their website, as a result of which they cannot maintain a competitive edge.
An entrepreneur needs to be friendly and people-focused. It is good to have an extended professional and personal network, before launching a web business.Web businesses that de-prioritize good partner and interpersonal relationships lose out in the long run.
Bad time and money management
A failed web business means that the founders have not managed their finances well. It includes over-spending or ineffective spending. Such individuals overlook the basic tenet of every business- time is money. They spend a lot of time bargaining for small cost reductions, while delaying launching time and other activities vital to growth in the world of start-ups.
The most important thing that leads to failed web businesses is lack of commitment and passion towards the work. Such people may know all the theoretical pitfalls that they can encounter, yet put in a half hearted effort to avoid them when confronted in the practical world. Hence, they continue to fail.
Have you ever thought how important customization is in all parts of our lives? From food(pizza chains) to automobiles, entertainment (television, i-pods) to sports (cricket, gaming) and retail, today’s successful business models are all tied to this central tenet- customization. So what really is customization and how relevant is it in web designing and development?
Whenever a client decides to elevate its customer experience, the first focal point is the website, which serves, both, as a significant touch point for the customer and as a continuing image of the business at large.
Ready-to-use web templates could cause more harm to your business than the short-lived advantage of cost-saving. In today’s dynamic business world, it becomes very important that you align your business goals with the existing practices. Any website which does not offer a rich interface which substitutes for actually ‘being there’ with the customer, will not be able to build any long-term credibility.
Features: A custom web development company works on a client’s needs and provides a rich platter of services to suit the ever-changing business environment. Call-to-action features like ‘Buy Now’, ‘Click here to talk with our agent NOW’, ‘Subscribe to our monthly newsletter’, are all examples of features which can be offered in this web model, contrary to the plethora of readymade web templates available out there.
Adaptability: When you identify an urgent need to change your website interface or add any new feature/alert to it, you would not want to let your other commitments suffer. Custom web development offers you a fast rate of change while you continue to focus on your primary area of work. This is how a trustworthy backend makes you an ace player in the market.
Compatibility: The client does not want to withstand the long ‘learning curve’ by itself. That is where a steady backend provides an effective business solution, which is compatible for a multi-server/multi-platform environment.
Online Presence: Once you have a strong and loyal customer base, you make them a part of your business, and they feel at home with your product or service. A significant contributor to this is an attractive website, which adapts according to the customer’s needs.
A professional custom web development company will give you the added advantage of creating a unique customer experience. It takes care of the backend while you put your money where the mouth is. SEO optimization, dynamic content, enhanced user-friendly features, online marketing and offsite product promotion are some of the key attractions of any respectable custom web offering. And if any time should you feel any feature is redundant or not working for your business, you let the developer know and he makes the quick change that puts you right back into the commanding seat – towards a wiser business solution and a sustainable market advantage.