Fast Five in Search – Week 52, 2014

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Well, it’s hard to believe 2014 is nearly done and dusted. It’s even harder to believe that I managed to publish a new Fast Five post every single week of the year!

Sometimes blogging comes easy and sometimes life gets in the way, but I’m proud to have made it through the whole year without a missed post. Thanks for keeping me company along the way and I hope you found the series enlightening.

Given the emphasis on shopping during the festive season, my final Fast Five for 2014 feature articles and blog posts about e-commerce and online shopping trends this year.

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Special Report: Will People Ever Buy Through Social Media? by Martin Beck via Marketing Land. This post looks at how social channels are starting to monetize using methods other than sponsorship and advertising. While Twitter and Facebook are testing Buy Now buttons in-feed, Pinterest and Instagram are showing unexpected potential as motivating direct purchases as well.

2) Amazon’s 2014 Holiday Sees Mobile Shopping Approach 60% Of Total Volume by Darrell Etherington via TechCrunch. In their annual holiday sales performance review, online etailer Amazon revealed that 60 percent of their shopper activity came from mobile platforms, including dedicated apps and mobile websites. That’s a staggering figure and something that should make any etailer rethink their mobile marketing strategy, pronto.

3) Why People Buy Things Online by Eric Siu via HubSpot. You’re going to want to bookmark this one, trust me. I love fresh Internet statistics and this post is a collated collection of statistics gleaned from the latest reports undertaken about our online purchasing trends. For example, did you know that free shipping is the second highest factor influencing purchasing decisions on Internet retailer sites behind product quality?

4) Is Social Media Very Good for E-commerce Conversions? by Chris Crum via WebProNews. Another post looking at the monetary value of social media marketing and how it contributes to online conversions. This article concludes that social media marketing efforts only account for about 1.2% of total site conversions on average.

and finally…

5) E-commerce: Metrics That Matter by Kristin Wilston via SiteProNews. A brief post that serves as a reminder that if you run a e-commerce site, you need to track consumer behavior on your site. Kristin provides some examples of the most important metrics you should be tracking to help understand your customers and guide them towards conversion.

That’s it for 2014 folks and this will be my final Fast Five post for the time being. Have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve and I’ll catch you all in 2015/.

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Fast Five in Search – Week 51, 2014

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So it’s nearly Xmas and 2014 is drawing to a close. Most of you will already be on vacation, which means you have more time to read longer articles and editorials rather than just skim the blog post headlines like you usually do, right?  With that in mind, this week’s Fast Five consists of 5 in-depth articles and recent blog posts that are a bit meatier than the usual pieces I link to. Enjoy!

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) 26 Ways Brand Succeed With Social Media Marketing by Debbie Hemley via Social Media Examiner. A nice round up of how some well known brands are leveraging social media to spawn higher levels of engagement. Take note and see if you can replicate some of these ideas into your own social strategy for 2015.

2) Technology, Self-Promotion and the Death of Public Relations by Shane Paul Neil via Technorati. Having completed my undergraduate degree with a major in Public Relations, this article – joyfully declaring PR to be dead – leapt out at me. Has technology killed off traditional corporate Public Relations and sent spin doctors to the unemployment queue? Best read it to find out.

3) Smarter Education: The Rise of Big Data in the Classroom by Lindsay Rothfeld via Mashable. If technology has killed Public Relations, it has injected new life into education. This written piece (and accompanying video) looks at the role technology plays in the modern-day classroom and how it is contributing to lower school drop-out rates in the U.S.

4) A Brand New World in Which Men Ruled by Jodi Kantor via New York Times. Keeping with the theme of technology and the impact it has had on education is this fascinating editorial delving into Stanford University’s pioneering class of 1994. The class churned out a very large number of (mostly male) tech graduates who each established or contributed to dot com success stories, including Netscape, Yahoo, WhatsApp, Google, PayPal and Facebook.

and finally…

5) Brands That Have Been Naughty and Nice on Social Media (Infographic) by HootSuite via Marketing Land. Well I couldn’t avoid Xmas forever! Here’s a fun Infographic from the clever team at HootSuite that ranks some of the big brands as naughty or nice, depending on their brand sentiment and popularity on social media during 2014. I won’t give too much away, but it looks like Santa won’t be visiting General Motors or US Airways this year. Oh dear.

Have a joyful, safe and memorable Xmas dear readers. I’ll catch you next week for the final Fast Five for 2014. santa-sack

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Fast Five in Search – Week 50, 2014

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There’s been some really clever Christmas marketing campaigns come across my desk this month – the type of ideas that have you thinking about them a lot longer than the bog standard Xmas marketing pitches.

So this week’s Fast Five is all about the Cleverest Christmas Marketing Campaigns.candy-cane-sml

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Coke Zero Sweater Generator by Royale for Coca Cola. This ingenious web app was the brainchild of uber-hip design firm Royale for Christmas 2013. It allowed users to design their own version of the geekiest holiday sweater ever, using a series of pre-set design features, images, colors and patterns. The top 100 designs were chosen by users and put into actual production, before being tagged with Coke Zero labels and hand delivered to the winning designers.

2) The Wondrous Wellington Advent Calendar by WellingtonNZ.com. This one is closer to home and celebrates my city of residence, so it has a special place in my heart. Wellington Tourism have designed a beautiful animated map of the city, in which they have hidden a working advent calendar for Christmas 2014. Each day this month, you are able to *open* a flap within the calendar corresponding to the date (if you can find it!). Inside is a discount offer or voucher deal for various retailers, restaurants, activities or venues around the city. Two for one gelato? Mmmmm, you bet.

3) Christmas Tinner by Game Digital plc. British video games retailer Game Digital came up with this little gem for Xmas 2013. The idea spawned after a survey of video gamers revealed that most intended to play through Christmas Day and they’d rather give up Christmas dinner than have to stop playing. Game Digital came up with the solution: a festive feast in a tin. Christmas Tinner comprises of nine layers of food – ranging from a starter to a pudding and you can see it in all it’s glory via this video review (yes he actually eats it).

4) Maker’s Mark Ugly Holiday Sweaters by Maker’s Mark. For Christmas 2011, bourbon producers Maker’s Mark created a special Christmas promotion for their Brand Ambassadors, consisting of delivering each one a special holiday sweater custom made for their bourbon bottles. Apparently the promotion was a huge hit on social media, enabling them to dominate bourbon-related search traffic and put their major competitor – Jack Daniels – on ice (sorry).

and finally…

5) WestJet Christmas Miracle by WestJet. The WestJet Christmas promotion from Christmas 2013 made a SPECTACULAR impact on the Internet. Staff from WestJet in Canada placed an interactive screen within one of their boarding gates, allowing passengers to talk to Santa and tell him what they were hoping to receive for Christmas.  The supposedly random group of passengers boarding for a domestic flight from Toronto to Hamilton were then amazed to find those gifts waiting for them upon arrival at their destination. The resulting YouTube video went viral and nuts on social media. Who can resist the power of Santa Claus delivering presents via luggage carousel? Not me, I still get tears in my eyes watching this one. It’s a marketing miracle.

Happy Christmas marketing!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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Fast Five in Search – Week 49, 2014

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If you saw my post earlier this week, you’ll know that I’ve decided to become an e-lancer. I’m spending 30 days totally immersed in the online job market as a way to earn income as a freelance geek-for-hire.

In preparation for this experiment, I needed to research and find the most popular outsourcing job sites and online work platforms on the Internet and register with them. And so the inspiration for this week’s Fast Five was born!

Here’s this week’s Fast Five:

1) Elance – Elance is the world’s most popular outsourcing job site, used by approximately 500,000 businesses and 2 million registered freelance professionals, who have collectively earned nearly $900 million to date. The site launched in 1999, with a name apparently inspired by a 1998 Harvard Business Review article called “The Dawn of the E-Lance Economy”. In December 2013, Elance announced that it was signing a partnership to merge with its biggest competitor, oDesk, to create an online workplace for a combined total of 8 million registered individuals. The new partnership is unimaginatively named Elance-oDesk.

2) oDesk –  oDesk was founded in 2003 by Greek entrepreneurs Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis. Prior to merging with Elance, oDesk was the second most popular outsourcing job site. Unlike Elance, oDesk tends to have a more technical audience, with the majority of jobs available leaning more towards the IT and digital fields. Most freelancers in tech that I’ve spoken to suggest that oDesk offers better quality job opportunities than Elance, as well as higher earnings potential and a more professional network of employers and freelancers. There is also a stronger spirit of collaboration on oDesk, with freelancers regularly banding together to bid collectively for large projects.

3) Freelancer – Freelancer pitches itself as a marketplace where employers and employees are able to find each other. The site allows employers to post projects they need help with. Anybody is then able to submit bids to complete the project and the employer chooses the bid that appeals to them and awards the project. This can result in competitive bidding wars, where the price for a project actually goes down, rather than up.

The site was founded in Australia in 2009 and operates quite differently to other job outsourcing sites, in that it operates on a reward system and different levels of paid membership. Free accounts can only bid on 8 projects per month and cannot make direct deposit withdrawals. Higher tiers of paid accounts get additional bids, direct deposit withdrawals, and other features. You can also get rewarded with extra XP for performing actions such as “Like us on Facebook”. By earning XP, the user can “level up” his or her account and unlock more rewards, including features such as being able to bid on more jobs per month.

4) Guru – Guru.com directly connects businesses and employees in 160 different industries. Guru Inc. was founded in 1999 in San Francisco as an online clearing house for high tech workers seeking short-term contracts. The company, led by brothers Jon and James Slavet, raised $3M in angel funding and a further $16M in a full venture round. The company was acquired in December 2002 by Unicru, a human resources software company based in Portland, Oregon. Unicru later sold the Guru.com domain name and logo to eMoonlighter.com, and eMoonlighter was renamed Guru.com.

and finally…

5) Fiverr – Fiverr was founded by Micha Kaufman and Shai Wininger in 2009 to provide a platform for people to buy and sell a variety of digital services typically offered by freelance contractors e.g. writing, graphic design,and programming. Fiverr’s services begin at a cost of $5 per job performed (from which it takes its name), and can go up to thousands of dollars. Each service offered is called a “Gig”. The website was launched in February 2010. In August 2014, Fiverr announced that it had raised $30 million in a Series C round of funding, bringing their total funding to date to $50 million.

Happy job hunting!

*Image courtesy of Threadless.

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30 Days as a Freelance Geek for Hire

geek-for-hireI came to a dramatic conclusion today. I need more income. As you all know, I’m a digital marketing consultant and trainer.

My contractual consulting work has dried up for the year and the exciting new IT start-up that had offered me 3 months work has been dismantled by their board and abandoned. Bye, bye guaranteed income.

So here I am, an unemployed geek, in need of consulting work in order to keep me in coffee and French doughnuts for the foreseeable future. What’s a girl to do?

I had heard that marketing and IT specialists could make a nice little income on the side of their *real* job by using sites such as Elance, oDesk, Freelancer and Guru.com. I immediately thought “I can do that”. I’ll just have to take on enough freelance projects to provide a full-time income.  How hard can it be?

So I’ve decided to spend the next 30 days totally immersing myself in the seedy online job market and pimping my services as a freelance geek-for-hire. I thought my experience might make for entertaining reading, or at the very least provide an example of what not to do for future freelancers. So I’m going to blog about my experiences right here. Watch me as I fly or fail. Or quite possibly both.

If you’ve got any burning questions about freelancing in the digital / IT space, please post them in the comments and I’ll make sure I cover those off during the month. Any words of advice (warning?) for me would also be welcomed.

Wish me luck!

PostScript 13 Dec 2014: You may have noticed I’ve pulled the first few posts from this *30 Days* series. Sorry about that. It turns out that they gained the attention of a major publisher who would like me to write the series exclusively for their audience. I’ll restore them and post the link to the full feature as soon as it is published.

 

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