December 30, 2014

Social Media Strategy: How to Create Quality Content on LinkedIn



By Lewis J.

With 300 million users, LinkedIn is the internet’s third most popular social media site. It’s a social network for business professionals who are interested in creating career connections and learning more about their industry. Most of its users are over 30 and 69 percent of them have a college degree. They are also uniquely engaged with site content, in a way that far exceeds Facebook or Twitter. LinkedIn users are 50 percent more likely to buy from a company that they follow on LinkedIn and four times more likely to visit their website from LinkedIn than from either Facebook or Twitter.

Influencers


In 2012, LinkedIn began publishing original content by distinguished business writers and personalities: Richard Branson, Jack Welsh, and Airanna Huffington. LinkedIn referred to them as “thought leaders” or “influencers.” Earlier this year, LinkedIn decided to open its publishing program to its entire user base, which means that every LinkedIn member can now write with the hope of becoming a prominent Linkedin-fluencer. Click the pencil icon in the “Share” box on your LinkedIn page to launch the program. Completed articles appear on your profile and are shared with contacts in your network. If enough people read, like, or share them, LinkedIn will begin sharing them with users outside of your network in an ever-increasing circle, and perhaps even to the entire site.

Content


With so many other users competing for attention, creating quality content is obviously the biggest challenge for any LinkedIn publisher. So, how do you stand out from the crowd? 

December 29, 2014

Team Building: Minute To Win It



By Justin H.

How many marshmallows do you think you could throw through a Christmas wreath and into a bucket? How do you think you would do if given 60 seconds to build and deconstruct a tower of 36 cups? Could you pick up a bag two inches off the ground using only your teeth? It turns out that many of the employees at eGumball can.

In the week leading up to Christmas, our employees at eGumball Inc. were all divided into teams and pitted against each other in our very own “Minute To Win It” contest. Each team was also allowed to come up with a unique team name. The tournament was all orchestrated and hosted by one of our collections assistants, who donned a particularly snazzy suit for the events.

Teams took quick breaks throughout their busy workdays to participate in many games throughout the week, such as the Breakfast Scramble, which requires the contestant to reassemble a cereal box puzzle in 60 seconds. Employees’ patience and steady hands were put to the test in many other deceptively difficult games. The activities ranged from building soda cans into a tower, to throwing cards like ninja stars into watermelons, and even stacking dice on a popsicle stick held in the player’s mouth.

December 23, 2014

3 Lessons Businesses Can Learn From the Sony Hacking Scandal

























By Lauren C.

North Korea’s cyber-attack on Sony Pictures over the satirical film The Interview has created quite an international stir. The Sony Pictures’ film stars Seth Rogen and James Franco depict two pseudo journalists hired by the CIA that assassinate the leader of the hermit kingdom, Kim Jung- Un. As a result, real North Korean hackers attacked Sony Pictures and exposed a large amount of embarrassing emails and private information about celebrities. Sony decided to pull the plug and cancel The Interview after North Korea made threats on movie theaters throughout the country that were going to show the film.

The cancellation of the movie has led to an enormous amount of criticism by free speech advocates, Hollywood, pundits, and even the President himself. After much criticism and mockery, Sony finally decided to safely release The Interview by playing it in limited theaters. The aftermath of this back and forth has brought about many valuable lessons that businesses can learn from the political and international cyber-attack on Sony Pictures.

1. Emails are forever. A phone call is a private conversation between two individuals. Unless the conversation is secretly recorded, there is more leeway for frank discussions. Emails on the other hand are in writing, and their digital contents can never truly be disposed of. Make sure employees understand the importance of keeping information both courteous and professional in emails. One source explains, “You can never retrieve an email message, which is precisely why observing the best practices of email etiquette from the outset is so important.”

December 22, 2014

Yahoo Search: The Long Lost Search Engine

By Nick K.

Google always seems to be the default method of exploring a search query. Whatever happened to the other search engines on the Internet? Surely, there must be a few other search engines that aren't always brought up in conversation, such as Bing and Yahoo Search. Surprisingly, Yahoo Search is the long lost search engine that many do not consider when it comes to search engine optimization.

Yahoo Search is the 3rd most popular search engine online, ranking far below Google in the search popularity contest. However, Yahoo Search has scored a major victory by landing a deal with Mozilla Firefox by becoming the default search engine and also merging with Bing back in 2009. Since Yahoo Search is now powered by Bing’s search index and Microsoft’s AdCenter, webmasters and small business owners should follow Bing guidelines in order to fully optimize for Yahoo Search.


Here are some guidelines on how to optimize your website for Yahoo Search:

Old Fashioned On-Page SEO

Bing and Yahoo have old-fashioned guidelines in regards to on-page SEO factors. They place a crucial emphasis on keyword research, meta descriptions, and consistent page titles for overall page rank. In addition, social media activity influences search engine page ranks.

Age Before Beauty

Bing and Yahoo both rank websites depending on the age of their domain. According to One SEO Company’s website, The Yahoo indexing bot does not even consider crawling through a website for at least 3-4 months. Yahoo and Bing have done this to reward those who have grown their website through organic search.  

December 19, 2014

Social Media Strategy: How to Break Through to New Fans



By Lewis J.

We’ve already explored how to engage with your current customers on Facebook and Twitter, but what if you are a new business searching for your first customers, or an established business that wants to expand its client base? Fortunately, Facebook and Twitter can help you with that too. Using information gathered from their social media databases, they can create targeted advertisements aimed at millions of potential customers.

Facebook


Facebook ads are one of the most powerful advertising tools on the planet, even when users don’t click on the ads and make a purchase. That’s because their purpose is to raise awareness of a product or service the way that television does. This is known as “demand generation advertising,” and Facebook does it better than anyone. They allow you to tailor the audience for your advertisements by city, age, gender, relationship status, education, income, hobbies, and interests. Keep in mind that Facebook ads are not free. The more people you want to reach, the more it will cost.

Facebook ads have a simple layout, which makes them accessible and easy to create. They include your business’ name at the top, a few lines of text describing your business, an image or video, and a call to action button at the bottom. The call to action button invites users to interact with your ad and is customizable, depending your ad’s objective. Do you want people to like your Facebook page, visit your website, download an app, or maybe view a video? You can select the appropriate call to action button and encourage them to do so. Facebook ads also display social information, so the viewer can see which of their Facebook friends have already connected with your business, which in turn encourages them to connect as well.

eGumball, Inc. Participates in the 45th Annual Adopt A Family Program!

Eight employees at eGumball Inc. were proud to participate in the Share Our Selves Adopt a Family charity event on Wednesday, Dec. 17 in Costa Mesa, CA. These employees were among a large group of volunteers from the Orange County community who gathered together to wrap presents for families in need this holiday season.


eGumball has also worked with the Share Our Selves charity during the Thanksgiving holiday, organizing and distributing delicious Thanksgiving meals to families in need. Share Our Selves is a recognized health center that provides safety net services to the Orange County community. eGumball looks forward to working with them again in the future.

Product Review: Is This BlackBerry Fresh From the Vine, or is it Still Rotten?

By Justin H.

Believe it or not, there once was a time when Blackberries were the must-have smartphones. They were all the rage until iPhones and Androids came along with their fancy touch-screens and shoved them aside. For the past handful of years, BlackBerry has been teetering on the edge amidst a brand new marketing tactic, which mainly focuses on targeting the 1-percenters. Recent BlackBerry phones have gone for as much as $2,200, as the company strives to carve out a new niche. There is, however, a cheaper options that’s just hit the shelves.

BlackBerry’s recently stated that they are not content pigeonholing themselves anymore. The new $449 Blackberry Classic is an ode to past smartphones, and looks very similar to the old BlackBerry Bold. The real question is: can it fight back against its keyboard-shunning brethren? More importantly, is it worth the purchase?

December 18, 2014

F.U.N.! 3 SEO Concepts for a Productive Online Presence

Photo from The Keep Calm-O-Matic
By Megan G.

With all the jargon and stats that go along with the work of search engine optimization, we can often forget how enjoyable it can be!  Marketing your business can be a tricky task, but it doesn’t have to be a total grind.  I have listed three concepts below, using the handy-dandy acronym, “F.U.N.”:
    
F is for forensic research.

U is for user experience.

N is for networking.


Forensics, in SEO and Beyond


I know that “research” is the last thing you want to hear when you think about having fun, but bear with me.  These investigative practices will help you find your company’s obstacles and conquer them. 

First, let’s talk about forensic SEO, which can be extremely helpful after the rollout of a new Google algorithm update.  This type of SEO focuses on finding poor SEO practices:  repetitive keywords, harmful backlinks, etc.   Problems like these cause web ranking penalties, and you need a diagnosis before you can move forward with standard optimization.  Check out this free trial of Neil Patel’s website, QuickSprout, which analyzes your website and highlights areas that could use improvements. 

December 15, 2014

The Secret Behind Bing’s Algorithm

By Nick K
In case you missed it, Mozilla Firefox has designated Yahoo as their new default search engine. Since Yahoo search is powered by Bing, and there has been a significant increase in Yahoo searches and Bing searches, optimizing your web content for Bing appears to be a worthy investment to make.

Bing’s web content criteria used in ranking web pages can be classified into 3 categories:

1. Authority
Much like Google does, Bing also has filters to determine how trustworthy a website is. Bing rates a website’s trust score by analyzing social metrics, website author rank, citations, and the consistency of author identity (Beymour). Bing’s algorithm also favors content that is from well-credited, authoritative sources when the webpage centers on specific query subjects.


2. Utility
Bing grades the quality of websites based on how pertinent and relative it is to search queries. Businesses that create credible, trustworthy content will rank higher on search results pages. According to Search Engine Land, Bing prefers to see videos, images, and graphics on a page as opposed to just text. In addition, Bing acknowledges that users will recycle others’ content, but Bing is looking for unique versions of that content. Bing disapproves of users who simply copy and paste the information and claim it as their own.   

December 12, 2014

The Singularity: Power of Technology Increasing at Exponential Rate



By Justin H.

Parents raise their children from birth and encourage them to become all that they can be. They instill values in them that will ideally help their kids become exceedingly successful members of society, as well as caring and loving people. One of a parent’s proudest moments is when a child grows up, learns to grab life by the horns, and learns to fend for themselves. That child works through adversity by embracing what it takes to be a self-sufficient adult. However, few moments can top that proud feeling when a son or daughter finally beats a parent at a game of chess, monopoly, or 1-on-1 basketball.

Well, what happens when technology goes through this phase?
The singularity is a prediction that, over time, the barrier between human and machine will cease to exist. The line between reality and fantasy will erode completely. Humans will continue to make technological advances that allow computers and machines to think for themselves, which could eventually lead us to the point where they won’t need us anymore. At that juncture, technology will have its own state of consciousness and be able to improve on its own, relegating humans to the back seat of the knowledge bus. Once technology realizes its own power, many believe it will rise up against us.

Customer Service at eGumball for 2015

Along with many special events and charities that eGumball plans to take part in this coming year, eGumball’s customer service department has some exciting news for the year of 2015. eGumball takes pride in providing only the best services for our loyal customers. To better assist our customers and their businesses, especially those on the East Coast, our customer service line is now open from 7:30AM to 7:30PM (PST).

Furthermore, eGumball’s customer service representatives now create status reports of our customer’s campaigns to show how much progress has been made and where they are ranking. eGumball works hard to keep you in the “know” about your account, as well as the status of SEO and Google Maps optimization here on Tek Shouts!





Be sure to ask an eGumball customer service representative about your PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign!

December 11, 2014

Social Media Strategy: How to Create Effective Twitter Content





























By Lewis J.

With approximately 284 million active users and 310 million monthly visitors, Twitter is the second most popular social media platform in the world. It is also a powerful sales generator. Twitter users who read a tweet from a business are five percent more likely to visit their website, and 38 percent more likely to make a purchase. Approximately 33 percent of Twitter users follow at least one brand or company. They are 67 percent more likely to buy from that brand and 76 percent more likely to recommend it to someone they know.

Viral Tweets

 

Users favorite, retweet, or reply to posts that they like on Twitter. There is no set formula for creating viral tweets, but here are some features that help drive interaction.



1. Photos & Videos: Tweets that contain a photo or a video are retweeted 35 percent and 28 percent more often than text-based tweets. Photos are the most popular. They’re retweeted 128 percent more often than videos, though videos are favorited 49 percent more often. Humorous images make up 62 percent of all image-based tweets. Photos are a great way to introduce new products, punch up company announcements, or draw attention prizes and giveaways.

2. Links: Tweets with links to websites and articles are retweeted 86 percent more often. Links embedded approximately a quarter of the way into your tweet are clicked on more often. Tweets with links to how-to articles or lists were retweeted three times as often. Twitter automatically shortens links in tweets to ensure that they don’t use up all of your 140 characters. Users can also shorten their links with Bitly, a free web service that compresses internet links.

December 10, 2014

Barnacle SEO: An Arthropod’s Advantage

A cluster of barnacles.  Photo from Gizmodo.



















By Megan G.

Say that you own a small but unique Italian-inspired café, and that you have an effectively optimized site for this business.  Keywords, hyperlinks, internal backlinks—you’ve got those all down pat.  Yet, your awesome site still gathers virtual dust on the third page of Google.  To make things worse, that dastardly generic coffee shop across the street ranks much higher than you.  Those java jerks steal all your fun slogans and discount ideas, and now they have snatched your rightful place in the SERPs.  

What are they doing that you’re not? 

The answer lies in a simple and useful form SEO.  That rival coffee shop’s highly-ranked search result does not link to their main page, but instead to their Yelp profile.  The owners have stuck their business onto a large, reputable directory, and now ride that branded ship to victory.  In short, their business became a barnacle. 

December 9, 2014

Tips and Tricks to Optimize Your AdWords Campaign This Holiday Season

By Lauren C.

Retailers and marketers have an enormous task on their plates each holiday season. Their products and services must be able to compete effectively in a broad, global market that becomes progressively more cutthroat each year. With the growth of Ecommerce and mobile commerce, companies must be especially competitive and innovative with their online advertisements. Here are a few tips from the experts on how businesses can improve their AdWords campaigns and expand their marketing capabilities this holiday season.

1. Browse Google’s Trends pages.
Google advises all companies to begin the optimization process by browsing its trend pages to understand what is popular around the globe during the holidays. Google Trends can “help you get a sense of the most popular searches by region, or help you identify searches that are just beginning to take off.” The Google Trends pages are helpful because the tool breaks down information and products into categories, so retailers can see their competition in certain niches. This will help advertisers understand which marketing terms provide the biggest impact to a specific audience.

2. Businesses must use Ad Extensions.

Ad extensions are an advertising format in AdWords campaigns that shows an extra tidbit of information about a business. Ad extensions allow the user to try a product, call about a product, or download an example of a product (like an application) before deciding on whether or not to use it. These extensions help products and services stand out amongst other AdWords campaigns, and aid users in understanding more about the product itself before they purchase it.

December 8, 2014

7 Effective Content Tips We Can Learn From Buzzfeed

By Nick K.

How on Earth did Buzzfeed gain so much popularity in such a short time? The website was introduced in 2006, and certain critics considered the site a rip-off of Facebook. Though many experts doubted that Buzzfeed could become successful, it is now considered a social media giant.

1. Lists are King


In general, people prefer to read a list because it is quick, fast, and convenient for them. Lists provide the instant gratification that readers seek. Buzzfeed content rarely strays from its listing format. According to Wired, readers want high quality content spoon-fed to them. Unfortunately, people will not take the time to read through blog posts that are several pages long, rather than blog posts in list form containing key points.

2. Pictures tell the Story


Words can only tell so much, while a picture can tell over a 1000 words. Photos are a great way to break up large chunks of text, and keep the reader engaged throughout the post. Visual readers, this one is for you!

photo from: favim.com






















3. Short and Sweet but to the Point


The concept of “short and sweet” goes hand in hand with creating a list. The list’s key points can contain details, if necessary, but writers should use fair judgment when creating an article using lists. Lists should be long enough to prove your point but short enough to keep the reader engaged.

December 5, 2014

Affordable Gadgets That Won’t End Up in the Junk Drawer the Day After Christmas




























By Alexis G.

We've all been there. Mom, Grandma, or Auntie Em hit up the dollar store to grab you some last-minute gifts, which you chuck into the junk drawer with a flinch of guilt the day after Christmas because you feel bad throwing them away. These gifts fall under the category of useless items that seem great when you open them on Christmas day, but eventually get thrown out. Face it, your junk drawer is getting full and the thrill of that kitschy coffee mug warmer only lasts so long. Who cares how cool your Chewbacca USB drive looks? And how many times are you really going to cool up those whiskey stones before you get that whiskey down your gullet?

We’ve compiled a list of affordable gadgets that are not only cool on Christmas day, but are so cool that whoever you’re gifting them to won’t even realize they needed them in the first place.

WARNING: The following gadgets may mesmerize and hypnotize you into keeping them for yourself.

1. Chromecast – this little device plugs into your TV so you can stream music, TV shows, movies, and more through various applications, including Netflix and YouTube. The best part is that it runs around $30. Move over Roku and who needs cable?

2. Stainless Steel Smoker Box – this little steel box will infuse your grilled food with that smoky flavor you crave. Just add some wood chips and place the steel box under your grill grates. It runs from $17 to $20.

Cyber Monday 2014 Shatters a Sales Record With Over $2 Billion In Transactions: What Does it Mean?























By Justin H.

Many pundits, including us at TekShouts!, predicted that 2014 would be the year Cyber Monday truly overthrew Black Friday, and that is precisely what happened. No longer is Cyber Monday just Black Friday’s eschewed little brother, as it has now eclipsed that vaunted, mall-mobbing day with e-commerce glory. According to CBS, Cyber Monday reeled in an astonishing $2.68 billion worth of online sales this year, a 17% leap from last year, which was good enough to make it the single biggest online shopping day in U.S. history.

Conversely, Black Friday took a noticeable hit this year, when sales fell 11%. This drop can be attributed to a handful of factors, such as the 24% surge in Thanksgiving Day sales, as well as the diminishing quality of Black Friday deals overall. Consumers also spent more money in general this year, which could be a result of plunging gas prices and a steadily improving job market. All of these factors certainly play a role in the balance of power between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but they don’t account for such a massive shift towards e-commerce.

Brick and mortar locations will never become obsolete in terms of shopping, but they are simply facing an endless uphill battle against the constantly growing e-commerce business. E-commerce is currently winning the bout for retail supremacy, and will continue to do so because it operates online. Therefore, companies are able to reach substantially more customers from all over the world. Waiting in line in the cold to buy an iPad? What are we, cavemen?

December 4, 2014

Social Media Strategy: Creating Popular Facebook Posts


By Lewis J.

With 1.15 billon users – more than Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram combined – Facebook is the most popular social networking site in the world. All ages, races, educational backgrounds, and income levels are well-represented on the site, making it the ideal social platform for businesses with a broad customer base. 

Facebook Newsfeed


Facebook users don’t spend a lot of time browsing individual profiles. Most of them spend their time scrolling through their news feed: a constantly updated list of status updates, pics, videos, links, and stories uploaded by their Facebook friends or liked groups. The news feed is heavily filtered based on the content that users have liked, shared, or commented on in the past. To be considered viral, posts don’t have to be especially popular – though the most viral ones will be – they simply have to spur user interaction.

Going Viral


There is no guaranteed formula for creating viral content, though there are several common features that it shares

eGumball Employees Compete in Biannual Foosball Tradition






























The Irvine office’s eGumball employees participated in the company’s exciting, biannual Foosball tournament! Each team came up with their own unique name and competed until the two teams left standing duked it out in a final foos battle. Our first place winning team narrowly beat their rival by a 10-9 score. Congratulations to our winners and to all who participated in this epic biannual tradition!

December 3, 2014

The European Union Seeks to Break the Google Monopoly
















By Lauren C.

While many people were huddled in their homes on Black Friday avoiding the last acceptable form of legalized chaos at the mall, the European Union decided to openly vote on breaking Google into smaller companies so that it would no longer be a dominant monopoly. This decision was not spontaneous but rather the latest example of the EU’s long, bitter, and questionable anti- Google campaign.

The European Union has a complicated history with Google, which can be traced back to a 2010 investigation by Joaquin Alumnia, the European Commission’s anti-trust chief. The European Commission (EC) is the regulatory authority for the European Union, and it can make decisions on whether or not to regulate certain industries. The lawsuit occurred because Alumnia wanted to know if Google’s dominance was so great that it required regulatory action. The EC’s three primary complaints were that Google linked to its own vertical search services like YouTube and Maps over rivals, Google copied content from other vertical search companies, and there were too many restrictions on other competitors who might be advertising on sites using Google ads.

After rumors that Parliament would vote to “unbundle” Google, which they cannot legally do by vote, the EU went forward with its decision to hold a symbolic vote on the measure. It stated, “The online search market is of particular importance in ensuring competitive conditions within the digital single market. We believe in preventing any abuse in the marketing of interlinked services by operators of search engines.” Both political parties in Parliament supported the measure, and it passed by a 384 to 174 vote. The members hope that the move will influence the EC, which has the power to decide on and implement new regulations for companies.

December 1, 2014

The Man's Candy Crush: Game of War: Fire Age


Game of War:  Fire Age logo from the game’s main website.



















By Megan G.

Too manly to crush candy?  Game of War:  Fire Age might be the addictive mobile game for you.  The name probably sounds familiar if you’ve recently watched an NFL football game, as a new commercial has been showing ad nauseam during various “manly-man” programs.  You know the ad with the intense battle scene, a massive hydra-demon-dragon, and Kate Upton in a toga?  That’s Game of War’s new, high budget commercial from their $40 million marketing campaign. 

Screenshot of the hydra-demon-dragon


















Venture Beat reports that the advertisements’ intense action, undoubtedly paired with Kate Upton’s curves, has largely appealed to viewers catching the promotion during football games.  I was actually surprised to see the Game of War:  Fire Age title appear after such a grand advertisement.  The last time I remember seeing Game of War was as a small banner ad on my smartphone—the kind I usually write off as spam.  How did a free-to-play gaming application profit enough to produce this high cost commercial, complete with impressive CGI and a famous supermodel?  The answer lies in a tactic that mobile apps have both used and abused:  microtransactions, or users’ real payments for virtual goods.