Great Deals Found on GroupOn

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Groupon is a deal of the day website that offers time-sensitive group discounts to members on products and services. A lot of times members can save anywhere from 40-60% off of regular retail price on items and services such as supplements, haircuts, massages and even Thanksgiving dinners.

For this post, I’ll show what kind of deals a user can get on GroupOn. More specifically, somebody interested in becoming a photographer or videographer.

Some of the things need to become a successful photographer or videographer include the obvious, like a DSLR or mirrorless camera, microphone and memory cards. As well as the not so obvious, such as training materials, lens filters, a tripod/monopod and photo editing software.

When I searched for these items, I found the following deals offered by businesses in the greater Los Angeles area:

 

 

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As you can see, there are a lot of deals to be found on GroupOn if you’re an aspiring photographer or videographer. You can buy your camera, tripod, memory card and lens filter separately or piece by piece, if you’re on a budget. Or buy the complete starter bundle  at $799, for a 20% discount. You can also get great deals on photography and video editing training at a discount of 50% or better.

Although some of the items needed to be a successful photographer or videographer weren’t found on GroupOn like photo editing software or brand specific lenses, users can still find good deals, if they look hard enough and frequently.

Some of the deals are not as good as the one’s to be found on Amazon.com, especially for electronics. So, I would have to say Groupon is best for service items, such as training courses and personal services. You can find great deals on learning lessons, like real estate license training, social media marketing course and of course, photography lessons.

 

Instagram Adds Exciting New Features

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In Facebook’s quest for social media domination, it rolled out features to Instagram today that compete with the popular app, Snapchat. Some of the new features include, the ability to add links and mention other users in Instagram Stories and integration with Boomerang.

Since Instagram rolled out it’s Stories feature, it has acquired almost 100 million daily user for the feature. The changes will most like result in an even higher number of daily users, as businesses and influencers find the value in the ability to add clickable links to stories. Many user have complained about the lack of being able to add links to regular picture and video posts that would allow viewers to visit their sites directly from the app. So, this is great news for users and businesses alike.

There is no word on if Snapchat will add any new features in the future to keep up with Instagram’s forward thinking. But, there are talks that the company plans to go public some time next year as Snap Inc.

It is important that Snapchat remains competitive by adding new features to keep users coming back though, unless it plans on sharing the same fate as the recently dismantled Vine. Ever since Instagram added video feature, many users and influencers inevitably abandoned Vine in favor of Instagram. Unlike Vine’s 6 second videos, Instagram videos can now last for up to 1 minute in length and also have the ability to be enhanced with filters. Many users found this to be valuable and left Vine for Instagram, where their target audience spent most of their time.

 

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If Snapchat doesn’t want to go the same route as Vine, by going out of business, it must add new features, or at least new filters to keep users coming back for more. Since Facebook is serious about staying competitive, I don’t see it slowing down on adding more features to Facebook or Instagram, as evidenced by the new features they have been adding, most notably Facebook’s Live video feature.

Time will tell if marketers, businesses and influencers flock to Instagram stories in favor of Snapchat. However, I have heard from many friends and acquaintances that they prefer Instagram Stories over Snapchat because Instagram is where most of their fanbase is, it’s easier to use and easier to get followers. A lot of people don’t like moving their fanbase over to a new platform because not only is it difficult, but because a lot of users don’t follow them over to the new platform. So, I can see Instagram using this to their advantage by adding new features to keep users engaged on the platform and not willing to switch over to Snapchat.

 

 

 

Mint: An Exceptional Use of Twitter

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Mint is a free personal finance software/app that allows users to set budgets and savings goals, as well as find out how their spending has been allocated over time. It is available on desktops, smartphones and tablets like Amazon’s Kindle Fire.

Since it was launched in 2007, Mint has managed to grow it’s social media following into the hundreds of thousands and it’s user base to over 1.5 million in 2 years through engaging and value driven content, plus an amazing product. Which makes it’s acquisition by Intuit in 2009 for $170 million not all that shocking.

 

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When you look at Mint’s Twitter page, you will find a mix of polls, challenges, success stories, informative graphics and questions directed at their fan base. Unlike many brands that push sales more than anything on social media, Mint seems to truly care about it’s users financial well-being. You can see this in how the company offers “budget hacks,” and tips on saving money. They also keep things fun and upbeat with the occasional humorous tweet that piggybacks off of fun days like National Cat Day and Halloween.

Aside from offering a lot of value, Mint also makes it a priority to interact with it’s followers in it’s own fun and upbeat way, without coming off as spammy or only concerned with making a sale. If anything, Mint has crafted it’s brand persona as a knowledgeable and funny friend that knows how to have a good time, as well be financially responsible.

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Mint also offers social proof on it’s Twitter page through the use of success stories. The stories show how app users were able to get out of debt and follow a budget that allowed them more financial freedom. By posting these stories and engaging fans, Mint shows that yes, people are using the product and more importantly, that it works!

 

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Vine Scheduled to Shut Down

 

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Social media enthusiasts have known Vine was in trouble ever since Instagram rolled out it’s video feature. Which is why not too many people were shocked when its parent company, Twitter announced today that it will cease Vine operations within the next few months. Although specific reasons weren’t stated in the announcement, it was only envitable considering how slow Vine was to come out with new features and remain competitive among the rise of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat video options.

At this time, a question is posed to social media influencers with millions of Vine Loops (video plays): What to do now. Especially, since it is so hard to transfer followers from site to site. If these social media influencers haven’t leveraged their popularity onto other platforms, they can consider their stream of income through Vine dead and gone. More recently, I discussed how YouTube‘s new Terms of Service threatened to halt the income streams of popular bloggers that solely relied on the platform as their source of income and posed the same question.

So, I think this serves as an important lesson for both companies and existing and aspiring social media influencers not to put all your eggs in one basket.

Tidal Falls Short with Facebook Fanpage

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In the music world, most people have called Jay-Z‘s streaming service, Tidal a failure in comparison to it’s rival, Spotify. Although the company has over 600,000 fans, it falls short when it comes to engagement and interaction. With most posts generating less than 50-100 likes and less than 10 comments/shares, it fails to effectively build an online brand and foster engagement, which is a hallmark of social media.

 

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Tidal falls into the social entertainment zone of social media, as it offers a streaming service that easily allows users to share what they are listening to with their network and create playlists. Often, the company features sponsored playlists and exclusive content and events from top notch artists, such as Beyonce, Rick Ross and owner, Jay-Z. But, unlike its competitor, Spotify, Tidal does not allow users to follow each other or share playlists on outside sites like personal blogs and online, industry magazines.

 

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The brands voice is often cold, aloof and just out of touch, which is not an effective way to build a fanbase or increase engagement between users and with the brand. Although their fan page offers behind the scene footage from member-exclusive events, the page comes off as more of a promotional tool than anything. Which can be off-putting for a lot of people that come to the page to interact with the brand and other users.

 

Overall, Tidal must figure out a way to effectively engage their following and offer more than just content designed to get potential users to sign up for the service if it wants to improve the quality of it’s Facebook fan page. Otherwise, it useless to have the page other than to just say its there and for show.

 

Facebook Rolls Out Workplace

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As Facebook continues its quest for domination in the business and social media world, it rolled out a new platform aimed at businesses and their employees, Workplace. Unlike it’s more well-known counterpart, Workplace is strictly for businesses, non-profits, educational institutions and other professional organizations to use as a highly connected and engaged communication tool.

Features include live video, group chats a newsfeed and other great ways to communicate. Like the regular platform, Workplace’s status updates are based on a algorithm to show the most relevant ones. Unlike Facebook, Workplace is ad-free and not connected to user’s personal accounts. Which helps employees keep their personal and work life separate.

Businesses sign up and pay a monthly fee, based on how many employees they have. For a company with up to 1,000 employees, the cost is $3 per user and declines as the number of employee increases. While non-profits and educational institutions get to use it for free.

So far, Workplace has been well received, with 1,000 businesses currently using the service and the highest number of business users in India, Norway and the United States.

 

 

Facebook Introduces Snapchat-like “Messenger Day”

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Facebook recently rolled out a new feature for Messenger users in Poland that allows them to add filters to messages and also, similar to Snapchat, the messages automatically delete themselves after 24 hours. This features is also similar to the Instagram “Stories” feature that was recently added to the Facebook-owned company.

I think that this is a smart move from Facebook in attempts to stay current and relevant. With many people in my age group and younger leaving Facebook in favor of the visually appealing, Snapchat and Instagram, Facebook has devised a competitive strategy that will hopefully keep users active and engaged a little bit longer.

Although Facebook is seen as a social network popular among older adults, it still needed to stay relevant in order to hold their attention and interest in the platform. The networking effect states, a platform’s existence and success is dependent upon how many users are there, as well as how many of their friends are there.

So, in order for Facebook to remain the most popular social networking platform and not fizzle out like its predecessor, MySpace, it has to find ways to keep up with current trends, interests and technology. Which is why I think this is an excellent move on their part.

 

Vibe Magazine: Example of An Effective Fan Page

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Before everybody got all their information and entertainment online, reading Vibe magazine was one of my favorite pastimes. I used to love to check out their urban fashion spreads and catch up on my favorite hip hop and R&B artists. The magazine was founded in 1993 by legendary music producer, Quincy Jones. Since then, the brand has gone on to become one of the most prominent and well-respected urban magazines of its time.

 

These days, the magazine has exited the print industry and taken it’s presence online, where it uses social media to interact with fans like never before. Instead of writing letters to the magazine and hoping they would get published, fans can now interact with the company in real time, two-way communication.

 

Unlike competitors, such as XXL and The Source, Vibe engages and interacts with fans by responding to comments on Facebook and tweets on Twitter. As well as posting content that they know readers want to see. The brand also nurtures interactivity and engagement by making use of Facebook’s new Live feature by live streaming with prominent and upcoming artists, such as DJ Drama and Skyzoo.

 

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Taking all of this into account, its no wonder that Vibe has amassed a Facebook following of almost 2 million fans. A lot of this growth has to do with existing fans sharing Vibe’s content with their network and positive word of mouth marketing (WOM). It also doesn’t hurt that the magazine has ties with some of the biggest urban entertainers and a staff of great writers that keep fans coming back for more.

 

Overall, I’d say that Vibe is doing a great job effectively developing its brand on Facebook. Its fan page has a strong and consistent voice, gives readers what they want and is interactive and highly engaging. And with recent Facebook algorithm changes that make it harder for organic posts to reach fans’ timelines, their metrics and levels of engagement  are all the more impressive.

 

 

Eso Won Books on Yelp!

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Eso Won Books is a afrocentric bookstore located in the culturally rich, Leimert Park district. It primarily carries books written by black authors that speak on issues relevant to the black community and often hosts readings that have been led by prominent black thought leaders, such as Barack Obama, Maya Angelou and Spike Lee.

 

Upon further review of its Yelp! page, you can see that Eso Won Books is very popular in the black community, with a 4.5 out of 5 star rating. Many of the user generated ratings show nothing but love for the business. With many ratings stating that Eso Won has a excellent selection of black books, movies and magazine, in addition to great customer service.

 

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These positive reviews and recommendations play a huge role in customer acquisition for Eso Won Books, seeing that most people use Yelp! these days to find new businesses to visit. By fans giving the business positive reviews, it influences future customers and those curious about the business to visit and support in the form of buying books and leaving reviews themselves.

 

In turn, this leads to more business for Eso Won, an increased fan base and more user-generated reviews. When people read about a business with high ratings and positive reviews, it entices them to visit the business and make a purchase. Which is always good for a business’ bottom line.

 

I do think that Eso Won Books can do a better job in managing it’s Yelp! page though, seeing that it still hasn’t claimed it’s page and is not active on the platform as compared to other businesses like The Last Bookstore, which currently has more than 1,200 user-generated reviews. If Eso Won would be more active on the platform, I think that it would lead to increased sales, as well as customer retention because more people would feel inclined to visit the store based off of the reviews and word of mouth marketing alone.

 

 

 

 

My First Experience with Affiliate Marketing

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June 2006 marked my first experience with affiliate marketing. I first learned of the concept through an interesting ad I saw on a website that I can’t remember. The Rich Jerk was his name and he just so happened to offer a book promising that he’d show you all his secrets to getting rich online. Since the book was only $10, I said, “why not?”

 

After a couple of days, I finally received my book in the mail that showed me everything you needed to know about Google AdSense and affiliate marketing at the time. For those not familiar, AdSense is a program that allows content creators a hassle free way to monetize their website through ads and affiliate marketing is where you get paid commissions for promoting other companies’ products online.

 

“Simple enough,” I thought to myself. So, I got started as soon as I finished the book. I already had an e-commerce site up and running. So, I figured I might as well toss some ads up there and see how it goes. And it went well, as I made an extra $100 in ad revenue within the first 30 days of adding the code to my site. After that, I was hooked and started implementing the other component of the Rich Jerk’s plan by joining Commission Junction, one of the top affiliate marketing sites.

 

There, you can promote products from well-known brands like Sprint, Macy’s and Guitar Center. Since my e-commerce site focused on the hip hop community market, which these type of products would appeal to, I thought that was an excellent idea. And I was even more excited to receive another $100 after only a few days after placing the banner ads on my site.

 

It was all fine and dandy, until I realized that promoting other people’s brands and showing ads on my e-commerce site was cutting into my profits. By showing the ads on my site, visitors were now leaving my site to go buy what my affiliate offers were promoting, which was not ideal for me. So, I ultimately decided to take the ads down and bring the focus back to my products.

 

That’s not to say that affiliate marketing isn’t for everyone. It all depends on your goals and what you want to do with your website and/or social media presence. Unlike back int 2006, these days you can promote affiliate offers through your social media profile(s), which can put a couple of extra dollars in your pockets every month. I’ve tried that too and have gone on to build websites solely focused on affiliate offers. But, that’s another story in itself…