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internet conversational marketing expert

Recently, Google released a new social tool that has the potential to be a Facebook “like” killer: +1.

Google +1 button

In essence, what this does is allow a user to “vote up” search results. If you deem something worthy of what you are searching for, then you should click the +1 button (that looks like the one to your left). The idea is to aggregate all of the data and put the search results that have been +1′d the most at the top, making them the most relevant to your search query.

The only way to actually see or use this new tool is to sign up for the experiment on Google, and log in to your account. If you have a Google Profile, you can see all of your +1s and share them with your friends within your social graph – if you so choose. As you can see in the screen shot below, if you don’t have a profile, you won’t be able to see your +1 history.

Live +1 button

The Social Circle

Down in Austin, TX, not too long ago, rumors were bouncing around that Google was releasing a new social networking platform, called “Circles.” However, within just a few hours of the whispers surfacing, Google immediately laid it to rest by denying the rumors. Nonetheless, if you were to follow the bread crumbs, you would see that Google is indeed up to something. With the denial of “Circles” came +1, not even a month later.

Why would they do this instead of moving ahead with “Circles?” Assuming that you (and your friends) have a Google Profile, and you have opted to link your other social networking accounts to it, every one of your friends within your social graph will have more relevant search results returned to them. That being said, there are various implications – both good and bad – this could have with regard to search engine optimization (SEO).


As the old adage goes, “The world is your oyster.” This holds especially true, as far as Google is concerned. Google spokespeople say that the +1 is not for boosting site rankings or marketing, but rather a way to get the best, most relevant and highest value search results – results that mean more to you, because it’s likely that you trust the opinions of the like-minded people in your social circle.

You could argue that it would be better to return results that have the most relevance to what you are specifically searching for, rather than those +1′d by people in your circle. To do this, all you have to do is to log out of your Google account. The results could end up becoming a bit biased, in that Google crawlers would crawl your friends’ +1s before crawling the rest of the web, thereby giving you a false positive.

What’s Next?

Buried deep in their javascript was an embeddable +1 button. And it worked too.

Google issued this statement on the button:

While we’re thrilled that publishers are anxious to integrate the +1 button into their sites, we’re still working things out and aren’t quite ready for this to be publicly available just yet, so we’re disabling this in the code. Webmasters and other publishers interested in using +1 on their sites should get in touch with us here.

Once the embeddable button is activated (legitimately, this time), Facebook “likes” will have some competition, and they should be worried. With the new changes at Google, and the way employee bonuses are determined by social media success, Google’s innovation and imagination have no limits.

Google has been known to fail – and fail epically, at that – but it hasn’t stopped them. Just look at Hotpot and what they have done recently with Latitude. With Larry Page returning to the helm, he is quickly bringing Google back to its startup roots with less red tape and more innovation. Another circle, if you will.

What do you think is next for Google? Do you think that Facebook should be worried?

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LinkedIn is quickly becoming as much of a social media standard as Facebook and Twitter.

It’s one of the staples of the social media department at Incept - all of us Internet Conversational Marketing Experts (iCMEs) have a profile and connections. Heck, we’re starting to recommend each other and our coworkers. By doing so, we’re also recommending Incept in general.

Did you know that a new member joins LinkedIn every second? Professionals use it to network and post their resumes. As Chris Brogan says on his blog, it’s a “reputation engine.” Very recently, just on February 25th, LinkedIn launched their new “company search” feature. Recommending your coworkers and promoting your company is now more important than ever because,

“Now you can search for companies not only by attributes such as location, industry and size but also by how you are connected. You can filter a set of results to include only those companies where you have a direct connection or broaden your search to include companies in your extended network.” - The LinkedIn Blog

By using LinkedIn to recommend your coworkers and mention what they do for your company, you increase the “connection strength” of your business. If you and your coworkers have positive things to say about the company, then your partners, customers and prospective employees who frequent LinkedIn will read it.

But how should you recommend your colleagues on LinkedIn? What should you say about them and your company?

  1. Keep it positive. LinkedIn can be a source of advertising for yourself and your company. If you have anything less that flattering to say, keep it off the web.
  2. Be specific. If your coworker increased your department’s sales by 30%, mention the exact number.
  3. Use “resume” words. Don’t approach a LinkedIn recommendation like a casual conversation. Use professional language and vocabulary. There’s a big difference between saying “he does good work” and “he not only executes his tasks but uncovers strategies to increase efficiency.”

And remember, if you recommend someone, don’t be afraid to ask them to return the favor!

Do you use LinkedIn? How often?

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Taverns – or bars, as they are known today – were social gathering spots long before the dawn of the internet.

They were places where one would go to meet up with friends and discuss various topics from their day or what they plan on doing in the future. Or, if one were so inclined, they would go to the tavern by themselves, have a drink (or two) and share details of their life by confiding in the bartender. Some probably just talked about what type of issues they had with their home; others probably shared more intimate life details. Whatever the case was, people went to taverns to network. There they would meet up with other people and wax intellectually about clandestine events that could happen in the future (as in the case of Paul Revere and his famous “Midnight Ride“).

The Dawn of the Internet

History of Social Medai

The timeline of social media...

With the burst of the internet bubble in the early 2000s, social media sites rose from the ashes and created online virtual worlds where anyone with access to the internet could set up a profile and “network” with the others on the same network. Today this is done primarily through Facebook and Twitter. There are others, of course. For example, there is Quora, which is a large question and answer forum – essentially, if you have a question, someone will have an answer. Then there is Tumblr, “the easiest way to blog.” It’s fully customizable to your taste(s) and quite user-friendly. There are many, many other sites out there -far too many to list – so I have provided an infographic on the history of social media courtesy of Skloog.

The Red Coats are Coming

Had it not been for the Green Dragon Tavern, and its owner, Paul Revere would not have known about the proposed movement of British soldiers and their march into Lexington, MA, prior to the Revolutionary War. Granted it took a short while for the owner to get to Revere’s house, and then Revere to paddle across the Charlestown River and ride into Lexington on his horse warning everyone. Nonetheless, it did get done. The “Sons of Liberty” were known for meeting at the Green Dragon Tavern, discussing ways to counter Stamp Distributors, which eventually led to the Stamp Act. Also meeting in taverns and discussing intelligence was the Committee of Correspondence, who discussed diplomacy and covert operations (among other things).

Where Would You Have a Conversation?

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Different social platforms and their relationship to marketing...

In today’s modern world, you can have multiple conversations at once without even leaving your couch. You likely have a mobile device, which, in some cases is like a mini-computer. There are also desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets and even now your television might even connect you to the plethora of social networks available. This infographic, courtesy of Brian Solis and JESS3, is a detailed view of the multiple social platforms available and how they are utilized in the social world.

Where do you want to have a conversation?

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A few times a week, one of my fellow Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) at Incept will ask me, “Why are you off the phones so much?” I reply, “I work in the Social Media Department“. However, that leaves them wondering, “Ok, but what exactly do you do?”

Unfortunately, with our department at Incept being so new and also a work-in-progress, I can’t recite an official job description as an Internet Conversational Marketing Expert (iCME). Actually, this post is an attempt to answer that very question.

Here is a typical week in the life of an Internet Coversational Marketing Expert (iCME) at Incept:

Monday-ish: Every Monday (or sometimes Friday), we have a social media department staff meeting. We look at statistics, like how many people viewed the Incept Facebook page and who commented on what. We discuss the previous week’s goals and set new priorities for the upcoming week. We brainstorm about blog topics, poll questions, videos to shoot, etc. Sometimes we meet with our social media consultant, Nate Riggs, who teaches us how to use different social media tools and about new aggregator websites like Tap11.

Tuesday-ish: We receive our official task assignments for the week via email. For an hour of “engagement time,” we watch and comment on videos on the Facebook page, post to Incept’s wall, come up with questions for the trivia challenge (and try to answer one!), comment on news stories, photos, announcements and RSVP for various company events.

Wednesday-ish: We catch up on more engagement. We use HootSuite and Tap11 to tweet about Incept on Twitter about Incept, our recent blog posts, blood centers and to thank our new followers and follow more tweeple. We also discuss personal interests and hobbies. For instance, I tweet funny images and comics I find on StumbleUpon and post quotes about creative writing. We try to build up our influence, as measured by Klout.

Thursday-ish: Blog post writing time! We spend an hour or two typing up blog posts about Conversational Marketing, blood donation, social media and the company culture at Incept, among other topics. We post tags, find images, summarize the post with an excerpt and choose what category it will be filed under. After we’re satisfied with the draft, we submit it for review so that it’s ready for publishing.

Friday-ish: Time for videos and pictures! We record interviews with the highest performing Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) at Incept, shoot funny but informative skits, capture glimpses of company culture and take photos of our coworkers for the Facebook page. Everything is uploaded onto our computers and we edit the content ourselves. We can even add music and text!

Fellow Internet Conversational Marketing Experts (iCMEs) who are reading this post, what else do we do? Add to this list!

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“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

In  “The Growth of a CME,” Brian Dodson’s post on Incept’s blog, he reviewed what he has learned since becoming a Conversational Marketing Expert (CME) at Incept. Along the same vein, I’m going to summarize my own experience since coming to Incept, specifically my growth as an iCME (Internet Conversational Marketing Expert).

Here’s what I’ve learned in the past three months as an iCME:

  1. Incept values what we bring to the table. Whatever skill or ambition an iCME has, the staff at Incept wants to put it to use. The iCMEs are encouraged to come up with their own ideas instead of just waiting for orders. All of us are new to this type of work, but our ideas are taken seriously!
  2. The Internet is the ultimate tool for communication. Online, you can communicate in any way, shape or form. You can post status updates, blog posts, pictures and videos. You can chat with your roommate or someone on the opposite end of the Earth. Your voice is heard.
  3. People get paid to play with social media! Before I joined the department I didn’t realize what a big business social media is. I knew that the creator of Facebook was waist-deep in profit (as illustrated in the movie “The Social Network“) but had no clue there was such a thing as a social media consultant, like our own Nate Riggs. I also hadn’t put a lot of thought into how businesses can use social media to promote themselves. Many businesses communicate with their customers via Twitter, Facebook and blogs, and Incept is now in the game.
  4. Your reputation is just as important online as it is offline. Nowadays, there is no difference between yourself and your online identity. When I’m representing Incept as an iCME, I have to not only promote the company but also protect its reputation. Whatever I do on the internet, I do with my company’s well-being in mind.
  5. Goals need to be quantified. I’ve noticed this about my personal goals, as well as my goals at work. When my goal as an iCME is to post a minimum of five tweets per day on Twitter, I’m far more likely to do that amount than if I tell myself to tweet when I can. Having a specific goal helps me do my best work as an Internet Conversational Marketing Expert.
  6. Editing film is fun! Although I don’t necessarily enjoy the actual filming, I do love piecing together the final product (and adding nifty text effects and soundtracks). The social media department at Incept films video interviews of our highest performing CMEs every week!
  7. Identify what’s expected, then do 10% more. Tim Johnson touched on this in his post on Incept’s blog, Are You Waiting or Creating Your Opportunities. When I was in school, I always did extra credit when my teacher offered it. It’s important to do the same thing at work, to the best of your ability.
  8. Take risks. Calculated risks, of course, but risks nonetheless. It may seem like common sense but every life coach and mentor will say the same thing: you won’t accomplish anything unless you risk failing. It’s cliche but true that if you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t trying hard enough. Be willing to make mistakes and have the guts to bounce back!

I look forward to the days when I get to do social media work at Incept. What do you enjoy about your job?

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When we talk about conversational marketing, here at Incept, the Conversational Marketing Experts (CMEs) are always reminded to talk with the person, not at them. Usually, this is in the context of phone conversations. It involves both sides of the speaking and listening coin – a balance between hearing what the other person has to say and telling them what they want or need to know. It happens in real time just like a face-to-face conversation.

Conversations on the Internet, however, are a bit different, especially when your “voice” consists of little black letters (like mine right now)!

On the Internet, there are real-time instant messaging services such as AIM, Facebook’s chat feature and live video feeds like Skype. But what about conversations that are not in real time? Ones that are not instant? These include tweets on Twitter, status updates on Facebook, email and blogging. How does conversational marketing work when the conversation is not face-to-face, not in real time and sometimes not even continuing on the same day? One way to start, encourage and hold a non-instant conversation is with a blog.

When us Internet Conversational Marketing Experts (iCMEs) started training, the first thing we learned was how to write blog posts that promote conversation (special thank you to Nate Riggs!). We were taught to write with our own voices, to keep the paragraphs in the blog posts short, to include images that catch the eye and to be careful with jargon so that every reader can understand. Most importantly, we were taught to always end our blogs with a question.

Businesses write blogs to provide information, state opinions, define and advertise themselves, and promote their customers. Unfortunately, some blogs stop there. Their readers read, shrug, and move on. They don’t comment. They don’t get involved in the conversation. By ending a blog with a question, even as simple as “what do you think?” readers are encouraged to join in and the conversational marketing process begins!

Do you have any advice for promoting comments and conversations on blogs?

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Sure, it could be because I have had a passion for filming since my best friend (of going on 20 years now) and I were filming stop animation with action figures. Then again, it could be the year at the Ohio Center for Broadcasting, during the 6/17 day class in 2008 that gave me a better understanding of the mechanics and prep work for proper film production. Regardless, both the world and I dig social media.

I entered as a lone Social Media Content Engineer, but now I work alongside 5 additional content engineers. These folks, Incept’s Internet Conversational Marketing Experts (iCMEs), focus on producing content while I transition into an Online Conversational Marketing Management position.

The last thing you want to do is assume that everyone has the same background and experience which has led to our mutual understanding of, appreciation for and engagement within our freshman department. Accordingly, we held a Blog Contest to see who was already interested and engaged enough (to do what Nate Riggs strongly suggested for time management) and parceled the entries into “Ready” and “Still Cooking” groups. This was the first indicator of who had potential they were willing to display. Since then, our iCME’s - Brian, Darrin, Meredith, Melissa and Stephanie - have grown to become their own immediate family within Incept’s growing family. As they continue to work and develop content in this department, it makes sense that content be engineered to outline their progression.

Every one of Incept’s iCMEs carries a very optimistic vision for the future of our social media department, while continuing to produce amazing content for our ongoing blog post series. Each week Brian, Melissa, Meredith, Darrin and Stephanie are given the opportunity to choose from the list of blog ideas they help create, as well as engage in conversations using any social network at their disposal, to help extend the reach of our blood donor recruiters and conversational marketing experts. I am as excited as I am dedicated to helping them learn, grow and engage  in their new roles. As Conversational Marketing is a term that is still widely evading definition within businesses, we’ve already moved along with our definition enough to specify the areas in which we best utilize our conversations.

What would you be able to do with your own Internet Conversational Marketing Experts?

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