Pelland Blog

Tired of the Same Meal?

August 2nd, 2016

Even if you can no longer recall the days of school cafeterias or army mess halls, you probably can appreciate the concept of having a bit of variety to spice up your meals from day to day. How many people would want to have the same bowl of corn flakes for breakfast, a slice of pizza for lunch, and a hot dog for dinner … day after day after day? Beyond the lack of nutrition, you would probably be really turned off by somebody who offered you another hot dog.

In recent years, the menus in both academic and military settings have been tremendously improved, with food service operations subcontracted to companies that take pride in both food preparation and the nutritional value of the meals they serve. Gone are the days of cooks whose only formal training was how to prepare meals in large volumes, having been replaced by executive chefs with training in the culinary arts.

Yes, times have changed, but what about your website? Are you asking your prospective customers to get excited about a template-built site that looks just like thousands of others? Having the same menu from one fast-food restaurant to the next is desirable because those establishments are serving a clientele that is seeking consistency, not surprises. However, when planning a special occasion (like a week-long camping vacation, for example), most people are looking for something a little bit out of the ordinary. It becomes problematic when your website is conveying a message that says “boring” when your campers are looking for “spicy” or “savory” on the menu.

Just another WordPress site

I never know whether to laugh or moan when I see sites that seem to display an oh-so-distinctive templated look. I have even seen sites where the site title displays as “Just another WordPress site” because the webmaster did not take the minimal time and effort (or perhaps did not have the knowledge) to substitute an appropriate keyword-based title for the default template setting.

When somebody performs a basic search on Google, the words in the intuitive search term that they enter are either highlighted or made bold in the search results, and a user is more likely to click on search results that contain more of that highlighted or bold text in the site title, domain name, and site description. Nobody is going to search for the term “just another WordPress site”, so it should be clear that having that as your site’s title will put your park at a severe disadvantage. Sadly, there are hundreds of campground websites suffering this limitation. Click here to view the Google search results for campground websites with the “just another WordPress site” title. If your campground is on the list of search results, it just might be time to question the status quo and start searching for another webmaster (realizing, of course, that your existing webmaster may be that person in your mirror.)

Would You Like Arial or Times New Roman with Your Meal?

Even something as seemingly insignificant as font usage is ultimately very important. Once your site shows up in a search, if the person performing the search clicks or taps the link, is that person going to stay on your site … or does something like an overused font send them the message that you are offering the same old menu of hamburgers, cheeseburgers, and a side of fries?

In the old days of the Internet, webmasters usually chose “safe” fonts because the correct fonts would only display if they were installed on the end user’s computer (otherwise defaulting to the dreaded Courier font.) Today, there is a nearly endless selection of fonts available through the Google Fonts API, allowing your webmaster to choose distinctive fonts that are consistent with the overall branding of your business and which will render properly in all current browsers. Using CSS, your webmaster can also specify font styles and can even specify eye-catching font effects like drop shadows and outlines, all of which are supported in Chrome and Safari, and many of which are supported in other browsers.

Once again, if your website is not presenting its visitors with this type of very basic content customization, how can you expect your occupancy levels to be anything but blandly boring?

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Make the Most of Online Review Sites

July 28th, 2013

Years ago, as a business owner you were pretty much in control of how people perceived your business. You advertised to influence opinions, you went out of your way to please your customers, and you provided a quality product or service. Everybody was happy. In the rare instances where a customer was displeased, he told his friends and never returned. Things could have been worse.

Today, things are worse. Conventional advertising has lost much of its credibility and clout, and most people turn to their network of friends (including virtual friends online) for trusted opinions and recommendations. That dissatisfied customer from years past now has the means to amplify his displeasure before an audience of thousands. On the other hand, the same tools are available for your happiest of customers to share their experience and influence equally vast numbers of potential guests.

Most campground owners seem to fear review sites more than an attack of locusts. Those fears are unfounded. P.T. Barnum is often credited with coining the statement, “There is no such thing as bad publicity,” and that concept is truer today, in the age of the Internet, than ever before in history.

First of all, a successful campground will be operated in a customer-friendly manner, and reviews of that campground are likely to be overwhelmingly positive. My advice is to proactively promote those reviews and the sites that contain the reviews, rather than simply reacting in a state of panic when a negative review appears, typically written by someone with an axe to grind.

Rather than hiding from reviews, I encourage campground owners to provide links to the major review sites – and to individual reviews – on their own websites and within the social media. Quote great reviews on your Facebook page and in Tweets, and encourage your guests to post their own reviews, particularly if a review site has a less than stellar recent review of your park. Some review sites allow you to respond to reviews, while others do not. Either way, the most recent reviews and the most intelligently written reviews (and responses) carry the greatest credibility. Older reviews or those written by somebody who is obviously on a rant are generally dismissed by readers.

If you are going to encourage your happy campers to submit reviews, you need to know the review sites that count. You also need to know whenever a review of your park appears online. Use Google Alerts to stay on top of what is being posted about your business online. When guests are checking out, commenting how much they enjoyed their stays, ask them if they would like to submit a review that puts that satisfaction into words. If they agree, send them a follow-up e-mail with a direct link to the review page for your park on the review site of your choice. (Don’t ask them to submit a review on more than one site, since that would be a bit of an imposition.) The following is a list of some of the review sites that need to be on your radar.

RV Park Reviews – This site has been online since 2000 and includes nearly 200,000 reviews of every campground in North America, including yours. If you are not aware of this site and have not read its reviews of your park, you have only yourself to blame. Use this site to your advantage. If you have the highest rated park in your city or town (based upon the average of your 10 most recent reviews, rated on a 1-10 scale), promote that fact by providing a link to the reviews for your park and its competitors. Use transparency to your advantage!

Yelp – This site was started in 2004, gets over 100 million unique visitors per month, and hosts over 39 million reviews. Originally designed to rate local business service providers (like mechanics, electricians, and plumbers), it now includes reviews to lodging services, including campgrounds. As a business, you can setup a free business account that allows you to post photos and additional information that will enhance your listing on the site, as well as generating free widgets that you can use to promote your Yelp reviews on your website. Follow this link to get started:

TripAdvisor – This is the world’s largest travel-related website. It gets more than 200 million unique visitors per month and contains over 100 million trusted reviews covering more than 2.5 million businesses around the world. Although the site originally concentrated on hotels and similar lodging, it now includes campgrounds under the Specialty Lodging category. If your campground is not yet listed on TripAdvisor, you can submit a listing by following this link:

Because of the volume of traffic, reviews on TripAdvisor carry plenty of clout. As a business owner, you can (and should!) create a free business account, allowing you to update your business details, add photos, receive e-mail notifications of new reviews, and – most importantly – respond to reviews. You can also generate free widgets that can link your website to your reviews. Follow this link to get started:

GuestRated – Campground owners are probably also familiar with the GuestRated program that was founded by industry consultant Bob MacKinnon in 2008 as the first ongoing guest satisfaction rating program relating to the private campground industry in the United States. Run in conjunction with National ARVC, this online survey program provides very useful consumer information and statistical analytics to campground owners, as well as providing an opportunity to respond to guest reviews. There are also widgets that allow campgrounds to feature reviews and ratings on their websites and that encourage visitors to initiate their own review process. Learn more about the program at:

This is far from a conclusive list of review sites. There are many other campground review sites that generate less traffic and less impact upon public opinion. I would recommend not fretting over any of the more obscure review sites, particularly if any investment of your time would come at the expense of the attention that you should be devoting to these review sites that count.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

SmartPhone Apps or a Mobile-Friendly Site?

February 15th, 2012

There has been a growing debate recently among small businesses attempting to choose between the development of SmartPhone apps and mobile-friendly websites. Let me try to cut through the clutter with a bit of common sense.

Let’s start with a few statistics. At the end of 2011, there were 140 million SmartPhone subscriptions in the United States alone. This represents over 50% of mobile phone customers, and well over 50% of the users of handheld devices access the Internet using those devices on a daily basis. According to a study conducted on behalf of Morgan Stanley, it is projected that the volume of mobile Web access will overcome conventional desktop access by 2015 (if not sooner)!

According to some of the “strange, but true” statistics compiled by the Mobile Marketing Association, there are more people – worldwide – who own a cellphone than who own a toothbrush. Here are some perhaps more meaningful statistics provided by the same organization:

  • 70% of all mobile searches result in action within 1 hour.
  • Mobile coupons realize 10 times the redemption rate of conventional coupons.
  • Although it takes the average person 90 minutes to respond to a typical e-mail, the same person responds to a text message within 90 seconds.

SmartPhone Usage Is All About Here and Now

Although the typical website provides a wealth of information that is carefully organized to be highly persuasive and carefully orchestrated to lead to a buying decision, SmartPhone users begin their search for information much further along in the decision-making process. SmartPhone users are dealing with a compact display screen and want to make a quick decision. It is not time to try to sell them (or force them to read) the Encyclopedia Britannica! You need a mobile website that is clean and gets to the point. It should be optimized for a small display and stripped of any non-essential text and graphics.

To start, look at your current website on your own SmartPhone. (If you are the last holdout on the planet who has not yet embraced the technology, ask a friend to show you your site on his or her phone.) Almost all websites will work on a handheld device, but some work much more effectively than others. Certain features are best avoided, such as the use of Flash (particularly in navigation), since that format is not supported by iPhones and iPads. You should also avoid framed content (generally sound advice for any website), streaming video, mouse-overs, and high-resolution graphics. In some instances, the amount of data on a page can exceed a phone’s memory capacity and prevent a page from loading. Sadly, a recent study has shown that 50% of small business owners have not taken the time to view their website on a handheld device, even though their Google Analytics may be showing that 10% of their visitors are accessing their website on a handheld device.

Now that you have viewed your website on a SmartPhone or other handheld device, what do you see? Chances are that you are seeing a totally functional website that is simply not doing its best to capitalize upon the characteristics of these devices. It doesn’t take long for a visitor to tire of the “pinch and zoom” style of surfing the Web, when they have to zoom in and scroll to read small text, and zoom out to navigate and to view graphics. Complicating matters, our thumbs are not nearly as precise as a computer mouse or our fingers on a keyboard. The bottom line is that a frustrated and inconvenienced visitor better really want what you have to offer because he is otherwise highly unlikely to become a customer. Your site is probably among the 97% of websites that were not considered mobile-friendly in early 2011.

The fact than only 3% of websites are mobile-friendly is not particularly surprising. In the overall scope of small businesses struggling to define their social media strategies, developing a mobile website is secondary in importance to the development of more pressing social media content such as a company’s Facebook business page. That said, an effective mobile presence is a very important secondary step for most small businesses. Going back to the statistic that 70% of all mobile searches result in action within 1 hour, it should be clear that you need to be an active player. The question involves which way to go.

For Most Small Businesses, the Answer is a
Mobile-friendly Version of their Primary Website

Here’s why. An app must have a practical use if you expect people to download it and then use it more than once. By far, the most popular apps are games, followed by mobile versions of established online services such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and Google Maps. Keep in mind that app development costs are significant. Although more than 10 billion apps were downloaded through 2010 – an average of 60 apps installed on each device – over a quarter of those are used only once. Users are also expected to download and install frequent updates, a non-issue with a mobile website that simply presents content that is updated on the server side, as needed. Beyond the development costs, plan on spending a tidy sum of money just to persuade people to download that app that they may use either infrequently or only once. The question you must ask is why users would use your app. An app makes perfect sense for businesses such as local television stations and newspapers, where they can present breaking news stories, weather forecasts, and sports scores. They also have the resources to promote downloads of their app. On the other hand, the “breaking news” of a more typical business might be better presented on Twitter or Facebook (which have their own SmartPhone apps).

Applications in the Campground Industry

My company is a major supplier of Web development services to the family camping industry, and many state campground associations are considering the development of both mobile-friendly sites and SmartPhone apps. I believe that a mobile-friendly site makes perfect sense; however, the development of dedicated apps for these associations makes little sense as I see it. I have already cited the expense of development (and don’t forget to double that expense because you will need to develop your app for both the iPhone and Android platforms) and the expense of promotion. Before one of these organizations takes that expensive plunge, there had better be a sound objective that will generate usage.

According to the recently released Special Report on Camping 2011, compiled by the Outdoor Foundation, over 50 percent of summer campers make their decisions more than a month in advance. Those making reservations for those trips book an average of 77 days in advance. Combine these statistics with the fact 70% of all mobile searches result in action within 1 hour, and you will begin to see the disconnect. SmartPhone users are generally looking to make a last-minute decision on where to camp this weekend, not weeks or months in advance. In the travel segment, this explains why some of the most popular mobile apps include Priceline, Kayak, TripAdvisor, Southwest Airlines, and Restaurant Finder. All of these apps are designed to alert flexible consumers of last-minute travel bargains. Of course, a campground association could present last-minute “unsold inventory” on their app, listing campsite and cabin vacancies prior to a holiday weekend, but the appeal will be limited. Most campers are loyal to a familiar campground or are at least looking to camp in a specific region of a state. Just because a site is available 100 miles away from their planned destination will not lead most people to be willing to make such a drastic change in their plans and preferences.

Regardless of your business or industry, before investing in a mobile app, give the concept a more careful analysis. Unlike that toy or power tool that you thought you couldn’t do without, but then ended up doing nothing more than taking up space in your garage, you are not going to be able to sell your SmartPhone apps at a yard sale or flea market. Unless there is a clear path to monetizing your investment, spend your money more wisely on something else.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

How to Avoid Turning “Likes” Into “Unlikes”

June 22nd, 2011

In the social networking world, whether your business is keeping in touch with its customer base using Facebook, Twitter or e-mail marketing, your message is only as effective as the number of people who read it. One of your primary objectives, therefore, must be to build your base of likers, followers and subscribers. Concentrating on Facebook business pages, although it should not be looked upon as Armageddon, you should do your utmost to avoid forcing those folks who have “liked” your page from changing their minds and “unliking” the page, effectively cutting themselves off from your marketing messages. The best way to maintain your base of fans and followers is to understand the type of content that they want and expect to see, and to understand the predominant reasons that people choose to leave.

Let’s start by looking at what people want to see in your Facebook posts.

• First of all, they want to see information that either directly or indirectly relates to your business AND ties in to their interest in your business. Try to be the first to present this information. If the information that you post is exclusively presented to your Facebook fans, that is even better. If it includes a special offer, incentive or coupon, that is best yet. Do not post irrelevant information about Lady Gaga, just because you think that she is of popular interest (for some reason that I could never possibly understand). Stay focused, topical, and on target.

• Secondly, as much as we all like to be informed, people respond in a more positive manner when they are entertained. They are also more likely to share entertaining content, expanding your sphere of influence and growing your base of fans. If you can present useful information in an entertaining manner, you have hit upon a winning formula! You will know you are on target when your posts generate a high percentage of “likes” and – better yet – comments that generate a conversation between you and your fans … and among your fans.

• Next, people want to feel that they are part of an active “in” place to be. If they visit your page, and the latest post is three weeks old, your page appears to be unattended, uninteresting, and unlikeable. You must post content on a regular and ongoing basis. The same thing, incidentally, applies to groups on both Facebook and LinkedIn.

How to generate more “likes”.

Forget the nonsense about building a ball park in a corn field. You have to seek out your prospective fans and hold up the Welcome sign. Here are a few random tips:

• If you are willing to spend a little money on Facebook advertising (which, incidentally, can be very cost-effective!), run an ad campaign that targets Facebook users who like your product or service, like your competitors, or like related products, services, or organizations. Send them to a landing page that offers them a coupon or other incentive to want to stay in touch with your company.

• When logged in as your business page admin, find and “like” related pages. For example, if you run a local tourism business, you may “like” your local chamber of commerce, tourism agency, or an annual event. By doing so, you may now post comments on those pages that will be of interest to their fans while subtly promoting your own page and business. If you run a campground, and an upcoming local event draws visitors from beyond the local area, you may want to post the fact that you have cabins or sites available for that weekend.

• Contact admins of groups that are related to your page. Provide them with news that will be valuable for them to share with their readers. Because of the manner in which information is shared within groups, this may allow you to reach people who would otherwise not see your message.

• Promote your Facebook page on your website, but also promote your Facebook URL in itself. To do this effectively, you should have a Facebook vanity URL. When you create your business page, it will have a long, cryptic URL that ends in a series of 15 digits that nobody will ever remember. As long as your page has at least 25 “likes” (enough to convince Facebook of its authenticity), you are entitled to a Facebook vanity URL that will make your address memorable and easy to share. Go to:

• Cross-promote your content across the social media, but beware of overdoing it. A perfect example of how to do things right is the “People of Walmart” music video produced by Jessica Frech, a talented, Nashville-based college student, singer, songwriter, and filmmaker. Her video was released on May 5, 2011, quickly went viral, and had over 1,000,000 views in less than 2 weeks. Above all else, it was the quality of the production that earned its accolades. As I write this post, it has now gotten over 2,770,000 views and has generated its own series of challenge videos! If you have not seen this excellent music video, enjoy it now: The end of each of Jessica’s videos includes a self-promotional message that encourages viewers to download her MP3 and to visit her Facebook page, which now has nearly 5,000 fans. Bear in mind that this represents less than 2/1,000 of 1% of her views on YouTube that have translated into Facebook page likes. Social media cross-promotion is challenging for even the best of sites!

How to avoid “unlikes”.

People can “unlike” a page on Facebook just as easily as they can “like” it. If your content fails to meet their expectations, they will do so.

As you can see, the # 1 reason that people unlike a page is because the company posted too frequently. One of the pages that I follow on Facebook is The David Wax Museum, a talented musical duo out of Boston. Last night, they posted 25 (yes 25!) consecutive “events” on their Facebook page, which monopolized quite a bit of real estate on my wall. This was not a good idea, and something that easily could have led people to unlike their page. (I was more tolerant, at least this first time.) Another way to wear out your welcome? Re-tweet to Facebook. At first glance, this may sound like a good idea that will help to broader your reach, but the fact is that the frequency of posts on Twitter and Facebook are entirely different. What is more than acceptable on Twitter totally crosses the line on Facebook.

The # 3 reason for unlikes is repetitive or boring content. Again, provide stimulating and useful content. One of the pages that I follow (but which disappoints me) is for Florida’s Natural Orange Juice. I want discount coupons for their product. Instead, I get pointless, self-serving posts such as “LIKE this if you need to go grocery shopping!” and “Do you call it Orange Juice or OJ?” Somebody on the company’s marketing staff is totally missing the point! The company’s posts also tie in with the # 5 and 6 reasons for unlikes: Did not offer enough deals, and posts too promotional.

Examine this chart and the survey results carefully, and then ask yourself whether your Facebook presence is working to generate “likes” (not “unlikes”) that translate into an ever-growing and loyal customer base. Treat your fans with respect, meet their expectations, and you will reap the rewards.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Don’t Waste Time Fishing in an Unproductive Pond

August 15th, 2010

Lots of fishermen tend to waste time fishing in unproductive waters just because of “the big one” that legend holds was caught and got away 25 years ago. If the legend is true, the time that has passed far exceeds the life expectancy of the fish, even if it wasn’t caught by another angler in the interim. Then, of course, the pond itself could have died, the victim of acid rain, eutrophication, or another type of pollution. The same logic applies to advertising buys. In simple terms, times have changed.

Just as a successful fisherman will spend time fishing in a productive habitat, any advertiser should focus ad buys on media outlets where prospective buyers spend their time. A Harris Interactive survey released in late 2009 found that 80% of U.S. adults are Internet users, and these users spend an average of 13 hours per week online. Of that time, the number of hours on social networking sites (the vast majority of which is on Facebook) now exceeds the amount of time either reading e-mail or conducting the (previously) conventional “search and surf” routine. Another recently released report, the American Time Use Survey issued by the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that the average adult American spends over 19 hours per week watching television. Those numbers are actually in decline, primarily cannibalized by Internet usage (where, ironically, a significant volume of television programming is now being viewed online). With readership levels down, recent statistics have also shown that the average American who reads a daily newspaper spends only 15 minutes per day (but up to 90 minutes on Sundays). Similarly, and with circulations spiraling downward, the average reader spends a scant 45 minutes reading the average magazine. Keep in mind that your target demographics (strongly considering factors such as age) will strongly skew any of the numbers which may be applicable in your particular instance. For example, newspaper readership has been in steady decline across all population segments, but the amount of time spent by younger people reading newspapers is virtually nonexistent. At the same time, it is fair to say that cell phone usage and text messaging is skyrocketing, particularly among those same younger demographics that eschew newspapers.

Comprehensive and current statistics on how we spend our time are not easy to find. If the information was easily accessible, it would probably be outdated as soon as it was published. We can sometimes only work with bits and pieces and get a general feeling for overall trends. For a general feeling with a comical spin and graphic effects, I would suggest a visit to the “Life and Time Spent by the Average Joe Blow” post on the Canadian blog, “Life in the Fast Lane”. (Seriously, check out that blog, run by Fast Lane Transport, Ltd. in Edmonton, Alberta, a freight trucking company serving Canada’s four western provinces.) In general, if you are trying to reach a mass market but cannot afford (or afford to wait for) the Super Bowl, which of the following makes more sense: Online advertising (where 80% of adults are spending 13 hours per week) or direct mail (where we each probably spend an average of 3 minutes per day deciding what gets a second glance and what goes into the recycling bin unopened)? Advertising over the years has relied upon the type of inferential data which has only proven to be slightly better than this type of generalization. Have you ever noticed how many erectile dysfunction commercials have text that reads, “See our ad in Golf Magazine”? The presumption, no doubt correct and based upon expensive market research, is that the demographics of the two markets overlap. With the advent of social media, where users volunteer and share a wealth of demographic information, we now have access to the type of real data which allows target marketing to go beyond inference and finally live up to its real name.

Advertising generally falls into one of two major categories: Advertising which is intended to fulfill an existing demand, and advertising which is intended to create a demand. Brand advertising is a textbook example of the latter, accounting for 80% of the two-way split. Ideally, your message should be designed to either reach out to consumers who are willing to embrace a new or improved product or service (now most typically as the result of viral marketing and social networking), or effectively introduce yourself to consumers who are already sold on your product or service but are unfamiliar with your company or brand name. When using social networking as a viral marketing tool, it is important for an advertiser to remember that they not be controlling the conversation but simply joining the conversation. Although it may seem contrary to the old rules of the game, it is best to sit back and allow the satisfied users of your product or service to be your most effective spokespersons.

Once you find the right pond, you will be pleased to discover that it is loaded with fish, and those fish are on a feeding frenzy!

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Wikia Search: Get On Board Early

July 16th, 2008

Author’s Note: The Wikia Search project ended on March 31, 2009, due to a lack of funding. Click here for more information.

I first became aware of the Wikia Search project when I read a couple of articles in a January 2008 issue of eWeek Magazine. An alpha version of Wikia Search was launched in early January by the same folks who brought us Wikipedia. The idea was to provide a socially driven, open-source alternative to Google, Yahoo, and the other major search engines. (Sounds a bit like the inspiration for the Open Directory Project, doesn’t it?) With Wikia Search, users filter sites and rank search results, influencing subsequent searches.

Wikia Search uses the Grub web crawler, acquired from the old LookSmart search engine last year, in order to build content. Individuals can donate unused bandwidth on their computers to help Grub to search for new content, in a similar fashion to the better known SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Project.

The project started modestly, by search standards, indexing between 50 million and 100 million pages. The hope is that users will then rank the relevance of the search results and feed data back into the search process. Needless to say, this is not the way that conventional search engines have worked. Even the Open Directory Project, with its thousands of editors, was not directly open to user input in this manner. According to eWeek, other search startups are attempting to develop similar concepts, including Eurekster, Mahalo and Lijit, but none of these starts out with the social computing experience or resources of Wikia. This type of search could be the wave of the future.

Six months later, where is Wikia Search today? Good question. If you type into your browser, you will not find the site. (What kind of logic does that demonstrate?) Already re-launched on June 3, 2008, it is said that the project is now in its “second alpha” release. In other words, it is not yet in even the beta stage of development. All criticisms aside, Wikia Search holds tremendous potential, and there is no reason not to embrace the engine early on.

Go to Wikia Search, enter the name of your business into the search box, then wait for the results. If your business does not appear, click on the “add suggestions” link at the top of the search results or enter your URL into the “Add to this result” text entry box to the right. If your business already appears, but appears on down the list of results, you can influence the sequence of the search results by passing your cursor over your listing and adding a rating to the options that will appear. Of course, you can also be socially responsible and add relevant content that has nothing to do with your business or personal interests.

As I write this, there have been 740,925 contributions to the search results on Wikia Search. If you go to the menu and choose Recent Changes > Live Changes, you will actually see the changes that you have entered, along with your IP address or (if you have signed up), your user ID.

If you go to the Wikia Search community pages, you can read more about the project and its admirable organizational principles: Transparency, Community, Privacy, and Quality.

This post was written by Peter Pelland

Social Networking Using LinkedIn

June 20th, 2008

Everybody is familiar with MySpace, Facebook, and the other social networking sites. One that I use and recommend is the more business-oriented LinkedIn. If you are either not using LinkedIn yet or are using it but know that you are not realizing its full potential, I hope to offer you the stimulus to get moving. Here are a few reasons to use LinkedIn and ways that it can work for you:

  • LinkedIn offers you the opportunity to provide one more direct link to your website, from your profile page on an established site which is considered important by the search engines. In addition to providing a route for new traffic to reach your site, the inbound link in itself will contribute toward the enhancement your site’s search engine ranking.
  • LinkedIn provides multiple opportunities to grow your business and to reach out to both old and new contacts. The contact network which you build can help you to get in touch with decision-makes across the full range of industries. You can start to grow your network by unleashing LinkedIn’s robot to search through your address book (in Outlook, Outlook Express, Thunderbird or other e-mail client) for people who already have their own LinkedIn profiles. For most of us, this is an instant means of inviting hundreds of your existing associates to join your network. By listing the schools which you have attended and former places of employment, you will also generate lists which might include fellow students and co-workers who have also moved on in new directions and might be willing to re-kindle the contact.
  • By building a list of contacts, you also have indirect access to their networks of contacts, as well as the contacts of those contacts. Sort of like second cousins. If you need to get in touch with the CEO of Echo Industries International, you can search for someone who is connected, either directly or indirectly, to a person within your network, then ask that contact for a formal introduction. Ideally, the connection is just one degree away (from someone to whom you are directly connected). Think this is far-fetched? The fact is that all 500 of the Fortune 500 are represented on LinkedIn, either through their CEO’s themselves or upper level management. Through your listing on LinkedIn, they can also, in turn, find you.
  • You can use your LinkedIn profile as a virtual resume, particularly if you request and receive recommendations from associates, former employers, and co-workers. In fact, if you are in the job market, you should include your LinkedIn link as part of your e-mail signature and include it on your primary resume. The best way to generate recommendations is to start by recommending people yourself. You will then feel no hesitancy about asking for your own recommendations in return, either from the same people or others. Most people are more than happy to provide recommendations if they are asked.
  • Finally, use LinkedIn Answers to either gain business advice from experts throughout the LinkedIn community or to establish yourself as an expert within your field. Either way is a fast and efficient way to expand your network.

For more information on using LinkedIn to your advantage, I highly recommend the LinkedIn blog, particularly the “Tips & Tricks” category of posts. I also recommend the “Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn” post on entrepreneurial guru Guy Kawasaki’s blog.

Finally, here is a link to my own LinkedIn profile:

This post was written by Peter Pelland