Do you know how to search?

Do you know how to search?  Can you find what you’re looking for on Google? Do you just Bing it when you need an answer?  I suspect you’ve got the basics down but did you know there’s a simple way to refine your search and get better answers?
Three simple words will change your life:
  1. OR
  2. AND
  3. NOT
Ok, maybe Boolean searches won’t change your life but they will certainly help you find what you’re really looking for. In social media, these can help hone your efforts to monitor your brand and your keywords.
Searches that use the OR command allow you to look for several different but related search terms at the same time. The results will show all web page that mention one or more of your search terms. For the upcoming Social Media Camp Victoria event, blogs, tweets and status updates will use the name of the conference (Social Media Camp), the conference’s hashtag (#SMCV11) or the conference Twitter name (@YYJSocialMedia). To find a broad cross section of content related to the conference I’ll probably monitor this search:
Alternatively, searches that use AND command will be limited to only those web pages that include all the search terms.
Note that the OR search returned 577,700 results while the AND search came up with 1,320 results. You’ll decide if you want lots of information or a very focused result.
Finally, the NOT command can be used to include one search time while excluding another. For example, maybe you want to do a search for birds but exclude the pages that also mention cats. NOT is a very useful tool to filter out distracting search results.
Also, note how I’ve put quotation marks around the search for “Social Media Camp”. Quotes are important to ensure that your search results include the entire phrase. You can use quotes in any search – simple search or Boolean search.

Have you checked in lately?

Have you checked in lately? Social networks that let you announce where you are in real time have been around for more than a year now. Are you using them?

At first, it’s a novelty. Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places offer another digital place to gather friends with the practical side benefit of meeting them offline at the local mall, event or coffee shop. You and your friends “check-in” and you instantly know where to find each other.

There’s a game factor too that’s oddly appealing. It harkens back to our childhood – for me that included Guide badges and figure skating badges. Something to collect that represents an accomplishment. Ok, it’s a minor accomplishment but it’s still fun.

There’s also a competitive aspect attempting to become the mayor or Duchess of a location as you playfully oust a friend or stranger from their most honourable position.

Social check-in tools can also save you some money as many of them will highlight deals and offers near to your current location. That can be handy if you’re looking for a cheap lunch or an affordable pedicure. Business owners who claim their location on Foursquare can add special offers for the Mayor only, for visitors on their first check-in or a loyalty special to encourage repeat visits.

But once the gloss wears off the game of it and you’ve had as many free root beers as you can handle, what will motivate you to continue checking in? Business owners are experimenting to figure this out.

Many users, including me, have check-in fatigue. After a while it just feels like too much effort to pull out your smart phone, launch the program and wait for the GPS to find your location so you can check-in.

Users are now also better educated about the safety and security issues of announcing their location. If you’re at a restaurant, then you’re not at home. Is your house protected? There’s also the matter of personal safety in certain public locations. I never check-in when I’m somewhere with my son. It’s not worth the risk to his safety and my ability to keep him safe.

For me, I mainly check-in now when I’m at a conference or other big event. The sorts of events where my peers who also use Foursquare will be and the “find the friends” benefit works well.

So, I’m curious – are you checking in?

2011 Social Media Marketing Report

Recently I spent an afternoon devouring the results of Social Media Examiner’s 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. Now in its third year, this report is invaluable to understanding changes in social media marketing. I was particular interested to see the results on the benefits of social media marketing.

Here are the top benefits :

  • Generate exposure for your brand and making it stand up to be heard.
  • Increase traffic to your site including blog readers, website visitors and opt-in subscribers.
  • Improved search rankings to bring your brand to the forefront in your area of specialty.
  • Make new business partnerships from connections made and relationships built through social networking.
  • Generate qualified leads for your business.
  • Reduce overall marketing expenses as your social media efforts gain traction you are likely to spend less on other forms of marketing and promotion.
  • Improve sales as connections become prospects and then customers with a better sense of your overall product or service listing and, more importantly, your style.

If you’d like to read the complete report, download a copy here.

I suggest even one or two of these benefits make your social media effort worthwhile. Please, let me know about your successes and don’t forget I’m available to help with your struggles.