Jott and Google Calendar – A Techological Match Made in Heaven

logo_beta.gifHooray for increased efficiency! Jott.com announced today the official link of the Google Calendar Jott Link. According to an e-mail I received this morning from Jott.com,

“We’ve been working hard on the official release of the Google Calendar Jott Link, and we’re happy to announce it’s finally here. Why is this cool? Because you can now create a Google Calendar event in a single step, from anywhere, simply using your voice. Just call Jott, say “Google Calendar”, and then the time of the event and what it’s about….and you’re done. We’ll take your voice, convert it to text, and insert it into your calendar for you. “Meet Cathy at 9 am next Thursday” is no longer a to do that needs another step, it’s something that’s recorded in your Calendar.”

How cool is that?

You can check out other apps that Jott links with here.

Oh, and if you don’t know about Jott, you can check out a post I wrote in April.

Which New Media Tools are Worth Your Time?

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I don’t know about you – but I feel like I’m a pretty savvy person, yet my capacity for online gadgets and social media tools is starting to reach the breaking point. I think Steve Rubel says it best.

So with all of the tools out there, which ones are worth your valuable time and attention?

Well here’s my brash, unbridled, no-holds-barred opinion on some of the popular sites you may run across:

MySpace.com
I use myspace to keep in touch with all of my friends and family. That’s it – very little business (although I do have a link to my business website). I like myspace because I can send out event invitiations to everyone at once. For example – my birthday is coming up (June 28th in case you’re feeling generous) and I wanted to get a bunch of my friends together. Instead of calling each friend individually, I sent an event invitiaton through myspace (similar to evite.com if you’re familiar with that). Myspace then emailed all of my friends and showed them the invitation. My friends can RSVP and leave comments.

Which businesses can profit from a campaign on myspace? Well, most of what I’ve seen that has worked is restaurants and nightclubs. Check out my friend Dougie at the Element Lounge in Richmond, VA. He posts which bands are going to be on which night – so patrons can properly plan their partying. The other use I’ve seen for myspace is entertainment – book authors/publishers, bands, comedians, etc. So if you’re an accountant do you need a myspace page? Not really, unless you’re going to keep in touch with your friends and family. (P.S. – If you don’t have either – you may want to start at Facebook.com – they’re poised to become the #1 social networking site)

Linked Innewmediaimages2.jpg
This is the one site that I can absolutely say did make me money this year. I’ll get to how in a minute. Let’s first talk about what Linked In is.

The main complaint I hear about Linked In is how it doesn’t DO anything. People say they have a profile and contacts just sit there. Well, it’s kind of like potential vs. kinetic energy. Linked In is a database of your networking contacts and their history. I use LinkedIn as a followup to networking events. Instead of sending an e-mail I send a LinkedIn invitation. It’s all about building the database (potential energy) and using it strategically (kinetic energy).

Here are three ways I use LinkedIn. First, if I have two contacts who need to meet eachother and they’re both in my Linked In network, I forward the LinkedIn profile instead of an e-mail. This way the person who’s receiving the referral can check out the other person’s history & recommendations. They can also e-mail them directly.

Secondly, If I have a question I can send it out to my contacts. For example, I was doing research for an article about websites that make businesses productive. I sent out the question to my contacts and got some great responses. I only had to post once, and the information was sent out to everyone – great time saver.

Finally, the way I made money – when I left corporate and started my own business I updated my LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn automatically sent an e-mail to all of my professional contacts letting them know that I had changed my profile and was now self-employed. Within 24 hours I received 15 phone calls, set 8 appointments and landed my first 3 clients. Granted, this is a one time event – but again – it’s the kinetic energy.

***Update***

If you used Linked In in the past where you had to pay to send e-mails (which was a big fat pain and kickout for many people) check it out again. Linked In changed their business model to generate more users by allowing anyone to e-mail without charge (smart move, I think).

newmediaimages3.jpgMeetup.com
I started using meetup for personal use, but have to say that I have made some amazing professional contacts through this site, so it’s high up there on my value scale. Basically, meetup is an online tool to help you meet people in real life. You may want to check out my previous post where I discuss in detail how to use meetup for business.

Twitter
I’ve tried it and think that this site is a complete waste of my time. Why do I need to post what I’m doing all the time? Who gives a rip? Plus, I can’t even search to see if my friends are already on the site, which gives twitter a real big thumbs down for me. I know some people swear by it – I just can’t figure out why I should bother.

SpinThicket
A listing of PR/Marketing/Advertising news stories. Thanks to Geoff for turning me on to this great site.

MyRagan
Kind of like Myspace.com but for MarCom professionals. I like it because it’s easy to use and has a lot of rich content. Granted, if you’re not in the marketing/advertising/PR field, you probably won’t find it as interesting as I do. I wrote a longer review that you can check out.

Squidoo
Ok, I kind of get the concept and I started my own lens. It’s kind of like a website meets a blog and you get paid based on the number of visitors who come to your page. Frankly, the cutesy names are a little much – it’s not as intuitive as I’d like. Looking at the top lenses (my favorite one is about tofu) I noticed that the content isn’t really all that rich – I mean, I could definitely post a bunch of stuff there. I just feel overwhelmed and don’t have the time. I guess one bonus is that once your page is created you don’t have to bother with it too much after that. Unlike a blog, the work is definitely on the front end – which is why I just haven’t taken the time.

Blogsnewmediaimages4.jpg
The biggest mistake I made when I started my blog was going to wordpress.com (they host and it’s free) and not wordpress.org (I host, it’s still free but I can use a blog promote my links). About 2 months ago I got a slap on the wrist because I was including a link to my website at the bottom of each post. Now it’s difficult to switch because I have dedicated readers and I’m not sure if they would follow me to a different site. I tried downloading the software and uploading my previous posts, but it came out all wrong. The frustrating part is that WordPress.org has importing shortcuts for a Typepad or Blogger blog – but not a wordpress.com blog. Argh.

But enough about wordpress (who I really do like – it’s open source). Who should use a blog and how often should you post? Well, it’s kind of like a gym membership. Any business can benefit from a blog – but if you’re not using it it’s pointless. Keeping with the metaphor, I advise my clients to start slow when beginning their blogs. Have you ever joined a gym January 2nd, told yourself you were going to go 4 times a week and then that eventually turned into basically twice a year because you burnt yourself out? Same thing with blogging. Start slow – once a week. Once you have that under your belt go to twice a week. Then you’ll eventually become addicted and be posting all the time. It’s better to be consistent than to push yourself towards unrealistic expectations.

newmediaimages4.jpgDel.icio.us, Reddit & Stumble Upon
All these sites basically do the same thing – they allow you to bookmark your favorite webpages so you can refer back to them later. It’s good to include links at the bottom of each blog post so your readers can easily “tag” your posts and improve readership. It’s a habit I’m trying to get into – the blog I’ve set up is a template and I can’t seem to do it automatically. Argh again.

My favorite of these is Stumble Upon because it allows you to “channel surf” the web. I highly recommend downloading the toolbar – it makes surfing & tagging ridiculously easy. Basically, you enter the categories you are interested and every time you press the “stumble” button on the toolbar a new page will come up. You can also rate sites to refer to them later. The more people that positively rate the site, the more often the page comes up. I found how useful this is first-hand when stumble upon readers sent over 800 visitors to my post Put Your Mind In the Gutter in just hours of posting.

Bloglines, Google Reader, My Yahoo! & Newsgator
All RSS (Really Simple Syndication) readers so you can read all your favorite blogs in one place – BIG time saver! If you don’t know what RSS is, click here for a brilliant video – RSS in Plain English. I switched from My Yahoo! to Bloglines and I’ve been really happy.

I know there’s a bunch of new sites up too – so if there’s one that you love (or hate) post it in the comments section below. I’d love to check it out.

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Andrea Morris is the Chief Idea Officer of Write Ideas Marketing and specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

All I could say was “Wow”

Checking my blog stats for today I noticed a dramatic increase in traffic due to a single post I wrote over a month ago titled “Could you win Richard Branson’s $25 Million Dollar Prize?”

Turns out if you Google “Richard Branson 25 Million” (w/o quote marks) my blog post shows up on the second page (#12).

I sat there starring at my screen feeling a sense of both accomplishment and disbelief. All I could say was, “wow.”

It just goes to show that you never know….

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Advertising: No results? No charge.

My first job out of college was selling advertising space in a low-quality lifestyle magazine that has since dissolved (we all had to start somewhere). We were trained to sell on the basis of our ridiculously high distribution and that our CPM (cost per thousand – a standard way to evaluate the true cost of your advertising) was very low compared to our competition. High distribution + Low cost = Value.

The problem I faced when I went into meetings is that people saw right through it. One person actually told me, “There’s no way I would look through this magazine. It’s garbage. I don’t care how much it costs – it’s not worth it.” Even though the metrics were compelling, once you saw the product it was understood that the results simply would not exist.

Many people face this delima when looking at pay-per-click (PPC) advertising – a popular “ad” on a page (maybe you have some on your blog) that once someone clicks – the advertiser is charged and the publisher is paid. One issue with PPC is the heightened potential for scams called click-frauds where clicks are made with the intention of getting a payment rather than purchasing the product.

Google is experimenting with a new type of advertising called “cost-per-action” that takes the PPC model one step further – you’d only pay for an “action” that you define (like a file download, purchase, registration, etc.) For a New York Times article explaining Google’s cost-per-action model, click here.

If the magazine I worked for had implemented this model I could imagine the changes that would need to take place. There would be a push for higher-quality, better research, and fierce follow-up on which campaigns worked. I applaud Google for this initiative because it removes yet another piece of the “sleazy advertising” stigma. Advertising is a viable way to get your message out to millions and soon, it may be more cost-effective than ever.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Move over Google – ChaCha.com may become my new search engine of choice

Chacha.com logoIn a recent article by ClickZ.com Tess Wegert describes www.chacha.com -a new search engine that works with professional searchers (real people) or interactive guides. It’s kind of like if you threw a search engine, chat room and about.com together to help get the info most relevant to your search.

I just had to try this one out for myself. Here’s the conversation I had with my guide:

Status: Connecting …
Status: Looking for a guide …
Ring:
Status: Connected to guide: Deborah(23079)
Deborah(23079): Welcome to ChaCha!
Deborah(23079): Hello Welcome to chacha I will be helping you with your search
You: Hi. I’m trying to find the best price on fruit of the loom boxers for my husband
Deborah(23079): ok one moment while I search for that
Deborah(23079): Thanks for being patient! Rest assured I’m finding the most relevant results for your search. (this was posted after about 1 minute of searching)
You: great! thanks deborah. I think i found what i needed.
Deborah(23079): Is there anything else on this topic I can find for you today?
Deborah(23079): O you are welcome
You: have a great day. 🙂
Deborah(23079): well you have a great day and thank you for using chacha.com
Deborah(23079): bye now please come back to chacha for your next search
Deborah(23079): Please RATE ME. Thanks for using ChaCha.
Status: Session ended.

Deborah pulled up 3 very relevant sites within a matter of 2 minutes. Not to mention – its kind of nice interacting with a human being instead of an algorithm.

I don’t know about you, but when I have to do a complex search in Google, I’m almost always frustrated. Chacha.com was pretty easy and I can really see myself using it on a regular basis.

Looking for cheap pay-per-click or banner ads? Read the article from ClickZ as it outlines why chacha.com may be a good investment.

How long do you think it will be before Yahoo! and Google follow suit? I give it 6 months tops.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com