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Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly to Avoid Google’s Mobilegeddon

Public domain via Wikipedia

Google updates its search algorithm up to 500-600 times per year. Normally these changes don’t turn heads. However, today Google launched a search engine algorithm update that some are referring to as Mobilegeddon.

The news? Google is giving preference to mobile-friendly sites when running searches from mobile devices.

The search engine giant assigns priority in search results to websites designed specifically to work on smartphones in an attempt to improve the experience when people search from their smartphones. Google wants developers to make their sites look and function better on smaller screens: for example, by using bigger text, and links that are farther apart and easier to tap. According to USA Today, more than half of all Google-based searches now come from mobile devices. With TechCrunch reporting that 44% of the Fortune 500 companies failing Google’s mobile-friendly tests, this is a big deal.

In short: if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, it could materially affect your company’s search rankings. (more…)

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Today’s “Not-So-Social” Networks


At the heart of every technological innovation is the desire to strengthen relationships between people and the hope that we can improve quality of life. However, lately I feel we have created “not-so-social” networks. The mechanics of connecting with others has changed dramatically over time, primarily due to visionary inventors, accomplished technologists, and the growing pressure to continuously do more in less time. (more…)


Lessons Learned from the Super Bowl: Knowing the WHY Behind a Campaign’s Success

FootballAnyone who watched Sunday’s Super Bowl doesn’t have to look much further than the power outage to find the WHY behind the Niners’ much-needed-but-not-quite-enough momentum. Yet, finding the WHY behind the advertising campaigns that worked requires a deeper look.

In Twitter We Trust

Sorry, O’Doyle, but Twitter rules! In about half of the 52 national commercials that aired between kickoff and the final seconds of this year’s Super Bowl, Twitter was specifically mentioned. Facebook, by comparison, was mentioned in only four of those commercials — about eight percent. Google+, which is reportedly the #2 social network in the world, wasn’t mentioned at all.

What this means is that, while Facebook and other social sites remain valuable, Twitter is becoming the premier tool for campaign success. Just as these Super Bowl ads got an immediate boost with some mention of Twitter —whether a hashtag, a logo, or a URL— campaigns of any size across any industry are benefiting from the recognition that Twitter is where they need to be to attract the online conversation around their brands and companies.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Timing As Well

With the aforementioned power outage stalling the start of the second half of the game, Oreo saw the delay as a chance to market itself in a very clever way on Twitter. The cookie company reacted quickly with this brilliant power outage-related tweet that was retweeted and favorited thousands of times in only about 15 minutes:


The lesson here is that a campaign’s end-date should never be set in stone; always keep your eyes open for ways to insert your product where appropriate and position your client or company in a timely and relevant way.

Bad Publicity Is Better Than No Publicity

GoDaddy’s ad, in which model Bar Refaeli kisses an overweight “nerd,” appeared to be the loser in the stack of Super Bowl ads, with a strongly negative sentiment across social media users (according to analysis of social chatter during the game by our client Attensity). Yet, despite the negativity, the GoDaddy ad netted 290,000 reactions on Twitter — 126,000 more than the runner-up, Budweiser.

This goes to show that viewers couldn’t quite get the “kiss” out of their minds. While I can’t, as a PR professional, endorse devising a campaign with the intention of spurring a negative reaction, I have to acknowledge that people in the case of GoDaddy will remember the ad and presumably the brand – which is more than you can say for many of the other, more positively received Super Bowl ads.

Feel free to share in the Comments field below any other winning ad campaigns from this year’s Super Bowl that offer a lesson to be learned from the WHY behind their success.

Jordan Hubert can be reached at jhubert@sterlingpr.com. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jahubert.

Photo credit: http://andrewzimmern.com/2013/02/01/go-fork-yourself-super-bowl-sunday/


Google Algorithms and Online Reputation Management

Reputation ManagementGoogle’s autocomplete feature has long been a source of convenience – and sometimes shock and amusement. On the practical side, it’s so easy to just type in a couple words or even a few letters and select the result that matches your query. After all, if you’re looking for an answer to something, chances are others have too, which can only improve the quality of the search results, right? On the less practical side, we’ve all been shocked and/or amused when the occasional obscure or offensive result pops up. There’s even a dedicated category on FAIL Blog called Autocomplete Me that tracks some of the more humorous ones.

Autocomplete, while helpful – and at times amusing – can also spell serious consequences for the image of an individual or brand. Most recently, Germany’s former first lady Bettina Wulff found herself to be a Google victim, after rumors that she used to work for an escort service have caused terms like “prostitute” and “escort” to be the top autocomplete suggestions when searching her name on Google.

Ms. Wulff has already denied the rumors and is now suing Google for defamation. Google, in turn has denied any allegations of wrongdoing, and the head of Google’s PR in Germany stated the site’s autocomplete results are “algorithmically generated and include the popularity of the entered search terms. All terms that appear have been previously entered by Google users.”

Time will tell as to whether Ms. Wulff wins her lawsuit. But if nothing else, it illustrates the high stakes in securing your brand’s reputation from an SEO perspective. From companies that will move negative hits out of your top search results (for a fee), to best practices for managing your own online reputation, it’s clear that individuals and brands are placing much more emphasis on what comes up in search results than they did just ten years ago.

Amanda Hoffman can be reached at ahoffman@sterlingpr.com. Follow her on Twitter @hoffmandy.


Transparency in Social Media: Google’s Elimination of Anonymity on YouTube

“Horror is the removal of masks.”

This quote from Robert Bloch, famed author of Psycho, particularly rings true with Google’s recent decision to prevent YouTube users from being able to hide behind aliases and instead have them disclose their full names when making comments on the popular video sharing site.

Google’s move, previously hinted at back in June at their developers conference, has unsurprisingly been met with a fair amount of user backlash.

The following comments on PCWorld’s coverage of Google’s announcement sum up what most of the detractors are criticizing:

While the above arguments are both valid, I, for one, embrace Google’s new policy on YouTube. The move should hopefully increase the amount of constructive comments, while others who previously hid behind anonymity and reveled in their vile comments are now minimized.

I predict Google is setting a new trend here that other social forums and news outlets will likely follow in their own comments fields. I am already seeing a significant jump in sites using the “Login with Facebook” feature, so users don’t have to create yet another user name.

But, having users’ full names visible is undoubtedly for these sites’ benefit as well. Being largely advertising-dependent, the sites now have greater user access – something that our client Attensity is seeing as the future, with the ever-growing amount of personal and demographic data available.

So, this latest development could be just a baby step in a longer strategy leading to a vast reduction of anonymous comments online. What do you think? Leave a comment below – ideally under your full name!

Jordan Hubert can be reached at jhubert@sterlingpr.com. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jahubert.

Photo credit: miserablespice via Flickr


Pinterest: the Next Social Media Frontier

By now most brands have (or at least attempted) a presence on Facebook and Twitter. And many companies have added sites such as Delicious, YouTube, Flickr and LinkedIn to their social media repertoire. But what new social medium has risen so quickly that it’s seen site visits increase by 4,000 percent in just six months?

(Hint, it’s not Google+, which is even being outpaced by MySpace when it comes to user engagement).

The answer is Pinterest, an online pinboard for images, where you can link to websites, follow users with similar tastes and interests, and either “like,” comment on, or re-pin their images. Less than two years old, the site is driving more traffic to company websites than YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn combined, according to a recent report from Shareaholic.

A natural fit for consumers pinning ideas for a home remodel, a wedding, DIY projects and crafts, Pinterest is so addictive it’s been called “digital crack for women.” But aside from a huge time-waster, Pinterest may be one of the best social media outlets to happen to marketing in quite a while. Why? Because a picture is worth a thousand words.

Pinterest presents a visual and easily shareable vehicle for showcasing your product or brand – or for simply sharing content or links that are interesting to your target market. It’s like Twitter for photos. Launching a cool new gadget? Pin a photo of it with a caption, and the photo automatically links back to the source (your website or blog).

We all know there are good ways and ineffective ways to use consumer social media channels for marketing. Here are some tips for brands looking to use Pinterest for marketing purposes:

  • Pin content that’s visually-appealing. Each image you pin should have some sort of “wow” factor that makes people want to click through and/or share with their own networks. Think: innovative, interesting, humorous, outrageous, beautiful.
  • Write interesting captions that recap, explain, or provide commentary on what you’re pinning. When appropriate, mention the name of the company and/or product in the caption. When people re-pin it, they have the option to create their own captions, but many people simply re-pin verbatim. Including the company or product name in the caption gives your brand more mileage than the pin/link alone.
  • Re-pin and comment on others’ photos. Similar to retweeting, it lets them know you’re engaged and that you find their content interesting. Remember, social media is about conversations, not simply broadcasting.
  • Give credit where credit is due. The beauty of Pinterest is that it automatically links back to the site where you found the image, which theoretically ensures proper credit is given. Unfortunately, this process fails when the site from which you’re pinning didn’t give credit to its source in the first place. While most reputable news sites and blogs include credits for photos used, smaller or more amateur blogs and websites may not. To avoid stepping into sticky copyright territory, make sure the source you’re pinning from gives credit – or just pin from the original source to be safe.

As with all social media sites, companies need to closely examine if Pinterest will reach their target audiences. It may not be worth the time for some companies, while for others, it should be a priority in terms of effort. It’s definitely a beneficial channel for companies selling to consumers or companies selling a tangible “thing” that can be pictured. Companies selling services that are not easily captured with an image, though, should think hard about their goals and whether Pinterest would be an effective tool for reaching their customers.

Any other tips you can think of for brands venturing into Pinterest? What brands do you think are doing it right?

Amanda Hoffman can be reached at ahoffman@sterlingpr.com. Follow her on Twitter @hoffmandy.

Follow Sterling Communications on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/sterlingpr.

Note: Sterling has no affiliation to Pinterest and we were not compensated in any way to write this.

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What Is the Media Predicting for 2012?

Panelists at the PRSA Media Predicts 2012 event

"Media Predicts: 2012" Photo by Marie Domingo

It takes a brave soul to sit in front of a room of people and predict the future. Wednesday’s Media Predicts: 2012 event sponsored by the PRSA Silicon Valley gathered a constellation of stars in tech reporting to find out what Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and others may have in store for the masses next year.

The panelists making their predictions included:

Here’s a quick rundown of predictions from most of the panelists, broken into categories.


  • Meg Whitman faces a tough decision regarding WebOS (now expected in less than two weeks).
  • Unfortunately, few panelists had any conviction that Whitman was the leader to deliver a stellar product that captured the imagination of consumers.
  • Female executives at IBM, Xerox, and other large tech firms are coming into their own. 2012 may prove to be the year that their gender is no longer the news hook.
  • Bill Gates may have to step back into the company. Windows 8 is a radical departure from previous versions of the Microsoft operating system and needs a better leader, though several panelists thought Gates would never return.


  • An ecosystem of devices will form to remember who we are, and save our preferences.
  • A new category of devices may appear that uses sensors everywhere.
  • Panelists were split on whether an Apple television would make an appearance in 2012.
  • Tablets with Windows 7 will be a huge competitor to Apple.
  • We will see an Amazon phone.
  • The Kindle Fire will be popular — maybe more so than the iPad — because of the price.
  • However, if Microsoft succeeds at positioning Windows 8 as an OS for computers and tablets, Apple will become the number-one computer manufacturer in the world, topping HP, when iPads are counted in the stats.

Operating Systems:

  • 2012 will be the year of voice. Apple’s Siri will lead the way while Google will push more aggressively into voice space.
  • Siri comes to the iPad.
  • Windows phone will take a distant third to Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS in mobile operating systems.
  • Android will “come apart at the seams” in 2012. (The Carrier IQ tracking scandal may be evidence of that now.) “Android is a mess” and companies such as Amazon are going to fragment development further.
  • Android won’t be the only vulnerable mobile operating system. Apple’s iOS will be hacked.
  • Google’s Chrome OS will die.


  • Juniper Networks will be acquired.
  • Apple will buy a small enterprise company.
  • Oracle will buy HP.
  • More foreign companies will buy US-based companies.

Companies to Watch:

  • Apple, Amazon.com, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft — as usual — probably in that order.
  • Square and Zynga will experience major re-evaluations in the market.
  • Nintendo will explode (in a good way).
  • Companies who felt pressured to integrate Facebook and Twitter will start feeling the repercussions of tying their fortunes to the social networks.
  • And there didn’t seem to be a panelist who wasn’t severely impressed with the learning thermostat Nest. The company and product seemed to represent a compilation of several predictions, including:
    • an Internet of things,
    • the spillover of Apple’s design philosophy (how the product works, not just how it looks) into new industries hitherto deprived of elegance,
    • predictive software, and
    • green technologies that actually matter to consumers.

What are your thoughts on these predictions? Any predictions of your own? Sound off in the comments or feel free to contact me via email or Twitter.

Kawika Holbrook can be reached at kholbrook@sterlingpr.com. Follow him on Twitter @kawika.


Can Google+ Out-Facebook Facebook?

In my opinion? No.

On the heels of an “awesome” Facebook announcement yesterday (which turned out to be Skype integration – something MySpace announced back in 2007) and with a week of Google-plussing under my belt, I decided to take a look at Google’s latest attempt at social networking.

First blush: meh.

While it’s a vast improvement over Buzz, which managed to tromp on privacy, be annoying and then flat line – and it’s less confusing than Wave, which was trumpeted as an e-mail killer but just ended up being discombobulating and overwhelming — it’s still… just one more thing.

And I’m not the only one who thinks so.



Sound Off Podcast Episode 1: The Customer Isn’t Always Right

Sterling Podcast Episode 1

It goes without saying that Facebook probably regrets engaging Burson-Marsteller to conduct a whisper campaign against Google (especially Facebook's "adult supervisor" Sheryl Sandberg, yesterday's BusinessWeek cover story). And Burson probably regrets agreeing to do it. But what can agencies learn from this embarrassing episode?  What impact will it have on the reputation of the PR industry? Tune in to hear a conversation between Sterling Communications VPs Jay Nichols and Kevin Pedraja.