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Using Social Media to See What’s Hot

Social MediaLarge corporations spend millions of dollars, prowling the Internet, seeing what the trends in fashion, music, and culture are. They rely on feedback from companies like Gallup, the Nielsen Ratings, and American Consumer Opinion to see what’s hot and what’s not. As a small business, you don’t have the same level of resources. But that’s okay – you can get your own “feet on the street” feedback, quickly and easily, using your social media networks. Here are some of the tools you can use to see what’s hot, right now:

Twitter trends

Go to and right below the search box, you’ll see a list of trending topics (as of this writing, the trending topics include “White People Hobbies,” “Black People Hobbies,” “Wendi Murdoch,” and “Louise Mensch”). If there’s a topic you want to track, you can click on the name and subscribe to the RSS feed to keep constantly updated on a trending topic.


If you want to follow a particular topic (“internet marketing,” “redsox,” etc.) via Twitter, you can simply follow the hashtag (#) associated with that subject. You can also subscribe to the RSS feed to be notified whenever new tweets on that topic are posted.

Facebook and LinkedIn Groups

It’s a little more difficult to see what’s trending on Facebook or LinkedIn, but you can see what groups are growing and what topics are hot. Do a search on either site for results, and join groups that look interesting and pertinent to your business. You can receive messages directly to your email inbox or opt to log in to your account to read. Either way is a great tactic for keeping tabs on what people in your niche are talking about.

Yahoo! and Google Groups

Go to or to view thousands upon thousands of groups for interests as varied as recycling, Santa Clara University alums, and Justin Bieber fans. Join the ones appropriate for your interests, browse topics, and see suggestions at


Head over to to see the most viewed videos of the day. You can even see top results by category (Education, Howto & Style, Nonprofits & Activism, News & Politics, Comedy, People & Blogs, etc.) The results may surprise you!

Stumbleupon, Technorati, Alltop

Check out any of these blog aggregators to see what others find interesting, read-worthy, or titillating. You can see hot topics, trending news, and just plain weird stuff.

As you can see, no need to hire a beat reporter to tell you what’s happening in your target market. You can easily track it all from your computer – no reporter’s notebook required.

Using Social Media to See What's HotWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email:

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Going Beyond Customer Support

Social MediaMake a choice: Would you rather spend the December holidays with your crazy Aunt Betty the doll enthusiast attached to your hip, or spend the afternoon trying to troubleshoot your computer modem by phone with your cable company? If you’re like most people, you’d ask Betty to pull out the photos of the lifelike dolls. Let’s face it; these days, customer support is a pain in the rear, not to mention a huge time suck.

Thank goodness, you can turn to your social network to help you out. Here’s how:

Tweet first

There are a number of major companies, including and Comcast, who have customer service reps following twitter streams and searching for their brand name in search of unhappy customers. If you can post your issue in 140 characters or less, go for it! Hint: make sure you use the company name – spelled correctly! – in your tweet, and employ hashtags where warranted. In other words: “My #HP OfficeJet 5600 won’t print from my MacBook Pro. Anyone have any ideas?

Take it to Facebook

Many companies have branded Facebook pages where you’ll receive a personalized response within hours, or even minutes. That way you can go about your business instead of sitting on the phone, frantically working your way through the automated telephone tree. Hint: Post a message on their wall rather than trying to contact them via Facebook message. The public aspect of your plea for help will ignite a faster response.

Try their website

Bypass the 800 number and email in favor of a live chat. You can get a live someone immediately (or within a minute or two) instead of playing hurry up and wait on the phone. Live chat not available? Try the email contact form. You may have to wait 24 hours for a response, but you can use that time productively.

Record a video

If all else fails, record a video and post it to YouTube. You never know what a visual plea for help, or a bad review, will do for cutting through the red tape. Be calm, though, and leave room for a response; if all you do is spazz out, they’ll just write you off as a nut.

The key here is to take control of your own time rather than letting someone else determine your destiny. Don’t let “them” tell you that you must sit on hold for 45 minutes before you get a living, breathing person to listen to your problems. Save time and take it online.

Going Beyond Customer SupportWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email:

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Share Important Announcements

Social MediaYou’re changing the name of your blog. You just gave birth to a baby boy. You’re heading to Chicago for an upcoming trade show. You are releasing a new online product. All these are perfect opportunities to use your social media networks to help share important announcements far and wide.

When you have something that you want to share with the widest possible audience, leverage your networks – all of them. Here are some tips to make sure your news gets the attention it deserves:

Don’t be afraid to post it more than once

Particularly on Twitter, stuff gets lost in the noise. If people don’t catch it the second you post it, it may be gone forever. Use a tool like to see when most of your followers are online, and post during those times. And post it a couple of times over the course of a day or so. Those who already read the original post will just delete it without thinking twice about it.

Create an opportunity to connect

Turn a newsy announcement into a way to engage with your audience. Instead of just saying “My new product launches next week,” say, “Check out this sneak peek of my new eBook that I’m launching next week. Let me know what you think!” Or, “My daughter is here – here’s her birth photo. Guess her birth weight and the person who’s closest will win a free 30 minute consultation with me.” People are looking for new and different. Give it to them.

Talk about the news before it happens

Telling people about what you have in progress not only helps them feel engaged, it also serves as a subversive way to promote yourself without sounding promote-y. Say, “Just finished the last chapter for my eBook. Have you signed up for early notification?” Or, “I’m interviewing so-and-so next week for my next online class. Do you have any burning questions you’d like answered?”

Interconnect your social media networks

Place an announcement on Twitter that sends your followers over to your blog to read more. Record an announcement on YouTube and then post it on Facebook. The stronger the interconnections between the spokes of your network, the stronger the overall network.

Forget about press releases and publicists, and don’t sit back and wait for the newspapers to find you. Instead, you can do the promotion yourself by leveraging the members of your network.

Share Important AnnouncementsWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email:

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Take a Mental Vacation

Social MediaWhether you’re working in an office or at home, taking regular breaks is essential for your mental and physical well-being. In the traditional office, you could head to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee, or head down to the proverbial water cooler. But when you work for yourself, taking a break to join into humanity is a little more involved. You can get in the car and drive to Starbucks for a quick latte, but that takes time and money.

You could call up a friend to check in, but who talks on the phone anymore? Instead, here are a handful of things you can do to take a much-needed mental vacation, all from the comfort of your own home, all via your social media networks:

  • Head over to Facebook and see whose birthday it is using the notification feature. Then leave them a birthday message on their wall (time: 5 minutes)
  • Catch up on your favorite non-work-related blogs. Or read a few of the industry movers and shakers and leave them a thoughtful comment, linking back to your own site. (10 minutes)
  • Post a question of the day (hashtag #QOTD) related to your niche, but in a “just for fun” sense. For instance, “What’s the last ___ you purchased for your ___?” This is a fun way to engage your Twitter followers, as well as gather some informal intelligence. (5 minutes)
  • Yes, go ahead and succumb to the Farmville or Plants vs. Zombies pull and log in to play for a limited time. Set an egg timer next to your computer and stop when time’s up. (15 minutes)
  • Check out the latest videos in your niche (did you know you can subscribe to other video creators’ YouTube channels?). Leave a comment or create a video response. (15 minutes)
  • Log into LinkedIn and update your status. Then check in on some of your groups and see what the hot topics are. Offer your expertise where appropriate. (15 minutes)
  • Do the same with Facebook. Visit some of the groups you belong to and leave questions on the wall, comment on others’ posts, and leave links where possible. (15 minutes)
  • See who’s commented on your blog lately and visit their websites, leaving comments and thanking them for visiting you. Reciprocity goes a long way to establishing relationships. (10 minutes)
  • Go to the iTunes store and see who hosts the leading podcasts in your industry. Visit their blogs and start establishing a relationship with these movers and shakers. (5 minutes)

Any of these ideas takes less time than a trip to the local Starbucks counter – or a trip to the water cooler, for that matter! Use your break time wisely and you’ll receive the double benefits of refreshment and audience engagement.

Take a Mental VacationWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email:

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Social Media Secrets

Five years ago, no one could have ever imagined the phenomenon social media would become. In fact, social media has opened a networking gateway. Millions upon millions of people rely on social media services every day. With that being said, people, businesses, and marketers are trying to uncover social media secrets. Their goal is to use this networking phenomenon to their advantage.

Are There Really Social Media Secrets?

The secret behind social media is really no secret at all. Social networking works so well because it provides the normal individual with the same tools a larger company would have for communicating to a large group, all at once. You see, the power of social media is not the fact that you can talk to a single person, but the message you send is seen by hundreds at the onset. If someone is intrigued by your message, it can then be shared with their network of friends, on and on. So, the question becomes, how do you create a message that people will want to share consistently? This is the beginning of understanding social media secrets.

The First Big Secret

To be successful on any social network, you will need to know some secrets that allow many people to utilize these networks successfully. In fact, a large number of individuals that utilize social media consistently do not understand how it works and why it’s so effective. To understand this, you’ll need to know one of the biggest social media secrets, and that is ‘talking and listening. Many people and businesses use social networks consistently, but they run into a problem because they only use one part of the big secret. They either talk too much, or they listen and don’t talk. If you truly want to be successful on social networks, you must learn how to do both.

The Second Big Secret

The second biggest secret is not to always talk about you. In fact, people don’t always want to hear about you. Although you would like to talk about yourself all day long, you are not the main reason others use social networks. Once you begin to understand this, you will be a lot more successful at reaching your target audience and providing them with exactly what they’re looking for. You see, if you listen and participate consistently, you will be able to eventually read between the lines and find out that people are actually looking for something. Once you find out what that something is, all you need to do is provide it.

It’s important to realize that social media is here to stay. This is a network that will continue to grow consistently. The sooner you become aware of many of the social media secrets available, the sooner you’ll be able to have success when it comes to social networks. By understanding the information provided above, you will have a better understanding of what you’ll need to do to become part of the social media phenomenon that is taking place today.
Pragmatic Web Designer Shares His Social Media Secrets

Dr. John P. Elcik, IV
The Pragmatic Web Designer

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Get Answers with Social Media

Social MediaIt used to be that all answers to your questions could be found on Google. Then, when Google became overrun with junk sites and advertisements, Wikipedia became the guru of choice. But even Wikipedia won’t give you the answer to every question you have. Sometimes the information is too ancient, or sometimes you don’t want the facts; you want an opinion. So what better place to turn to than social media?

Social media is great for the following types of questions:


Heading to San Antonio and want to know where to find authentic Tex-Mex? Wikipedia won’t help you and Google is full of sponsored ads. So instead of doing a fruitless search, post a query on your Facebook page, and within hours your followers will have chimed in with a variety of suggestions, depending on your appetite, allergies, and budget.

When you want an opinion or suggestion, ask your social media network. They tend to enjoy giving help and assistance, and the resulting information may be more appropriate to your circumstance than a review written by a nameless, faceless entity.

New technology questions

Your brand-new video camera won’t boot up after the last charge. You could spend an hour or two on the manufacturer’s website, searching the FAQ pages for an answer. You could google the problem, but all the answers you get are for the previous model. So you send out a plea for help from the Tweetiverse, and within minutes you have a handful of suggestions, as well as the site to go to for expert help.

Google often doesn’t help much with tech questions because there either aren’t enough answers out there to make it to the first page of the search results, or the resulting pages are all scams, junk sites, or sponsored posts for services that will fix your camera for a small fee. That’s why you can often save time by asking your network first.

References and referrals

Looking for a great handyman in Manhattan can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. You can go through the Yellow Pages or check online, but are any of these guys any good? To know for sure you need a personal reference or referral, and that’s where your social media network can really help out. Post a Facebook query or tweet it out there, and you’ll get answers that will steer you in the right direction.

We often think of social media as a way to just hang out with our friends and colleagues, but it is actually one of the greatest examples of the wisdom of crowds. Take advantage of it, and save time, too.

Get Answers with Social MediaWhen it comes to building your brand, your website is one of your most powerful tools. Contact Dr. John Elcik at identityXperts to handle all of your web design needs. We can be reached by phone, at (239) 400-0622, or email:

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The Power of Social Network Marketing

When you have a business, your goal is to make a profit. Often, earning that profit involves offering a product or service for sale. But how do you let prospective customers know that you have a product for sale? They can’t buy it, after all, if they don’t know about it. That’s why most business owners find it necessary to advertise.

However, many business owners shy away from advertising; you might even be shuddering at the thought already! The high price of advertising is one reason why so many dread having to deal with it. After all, the idea is to make a profit, not spend money! The good news is that it is possible to advertise without spending money. While it may take some cash investment to get your business to the level that you wish, you can promote your products and services without spending any money at all.

Suppose this is piquing your curiosity, then good! It takes an agile mind and an adventurous heart to run a business! One of the easiest ways to promote your business is online – and you can do it without spending a penny. Online social networking websites are readily available at no cost, and millions of people are using them. Almost everyone who has the internet available to them is a member of at least one of these sites.

Now, when you think of social networks, you most likely think of connecting and reconnecting with friends and family. While personal relationships are more frequently seen, social networking has become a huge advantage for businesses. Some social networks are exclusively for business. If you have a small business, especially an online business, there are several ways that you can use these sites to increase your traffic and sales.

While most social networking sites are more focused on developing friendships and relationships, as we mentioned, some are designed primarily for business. You can use these sites to build relationships with other business owners by sharing your information and interests. By building relationships with other business owners with similar interests, you can gain valuable contacts that can lead to increased business opportunities. At the very least, you’ll make friends that you can share your concerns and bounce ideas off.

While social networks like LinkedIn are a great way to connect with other business owners, that doesn’t mean that other social networking sites can’t be great for promoting your business as well. Even though Facebook and Google + may have originally had personal interaction as their focus, they both have very active business pages that can be used to interact with your clients and prospective customers.

When joining one of these online networking sites, you’ll first create a profile for yourself, giving you a profile page. Be careful when creating your personal profile; people who use these sites for personal friendship and relationships dislike feeling like someone is marketing to them. Use your personal profile page to meet new people. But once you’ve got your personal page, you can create business pages separate from your personal contacts. Everything you do on your business page can be “shared” on your personal page without directly marketing it towards your friends.

When you join a social network site, you create the opportunity to generate a lot of interest in your product or services. That makes the time you spend on social networks worth it! Look for people to connect with that will help you grow. The generated interest that you create in your business will translate into more focused traffic, translating into sales.
Social Media

Dr. John P. Elcik, IV
The Pragmatic Web Designer