(c) Can Stock PhotoHere’s the wrap-up of great posts and momentous events from the first week of 2013. If you’re interested in the complete listing of all the content I collected over the past seven days, visit my link blog at LinksFromShel.tumblr.com.

Websites can opt out of Google content scraping

The reporting of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s investigation into Google centers on Google’s big win. The search giant escaped severe anti-trust findings and penalties . Lost in the coverage is the fact that Google did have to make some promises to the FTC over issues the Commission raised. For instance, the FTC explored assertions that Google scraped website content—restaurant reviews, for example—and in the presentation of that content led people to believe it was Google’s own material. When the content owners complained, they claim Google threatened to remove them from search results. As a result of the investigation, Google has agreed to allow websites to opt out of having their content scraped without fear of retribution affecting their presence in search results. It’s not clear how you can opt out, and The Wall Street Journal‘s live-blogging of the findings added, “If you opt out of being scraped, Google has agreed that it cannot demote you in the search algorithm. But how can the FTC find out about the demotion if they can’t monitor the algorithm? The answer is ambiguous, at best. It’s unclear how this commitment will be enforced.”

Google+ Pages now can interact with all users

Not connected with the FTC findings is another decision by Google that should inspire marketers to focus more attention on their Google+ pages (or create one, if they haven’t already). Page users up until now have been able to interact only with users who have put the page in their Circles. If, for instance, you +1 a post on a business page, the only people who would see that are those who have also Circled the page. No more. Shares, comments and +1s can now been seen by anyone. “Google+ Business Pages will now have the ability to interact and engage with any and all Google+ users, opening up more engagement opportunities for marketers, and possibly increasing the chances that users will add businesses pages to their Circles,” Pamela Vaughan writes on Hubspot. Google also officially announced that Google+ analytics are coming soon.

A diagnostic framework for digital marketing

When Avinash Kaushik speaks, I listen. Kaushik, digital marketing evangelist at Google and analytics guru, offers up a detailed diagnostic framework from digital marketing on his blog, Occam’s Razor. “How can a company know if it is staged for complete and glorious success when it comes to digital marketing?” he asks. “What is a good way to self-identify gaps in strategy, to discover the mistakes that might be making your strategy sub-optimal?” His approach is designed to be tackled sequentially. “My promise is that if your company/brand/division goes through this diagnostic analysis, it will help identify your opportunities, point out current gaps, and create a much, much better step-by-step digital strategy.” The questions to answer: Do you have both an “own and “rent” existence for your brand? On your “rent” existence, are you shouting or adding value to the audience’s life? On your “own” existence: Are you solving for a local maxima, 2% (one outcome) or are you solving for a global maxima, 100% (a cluster of macro and micro outcomes)?  Are you capturing 100% of the Proactively Capture possibilities on YouTube/Google/Bing/Yandex/Baidu Search? s your Display advertising strategy imaginative enough to Reactively Create demand? Does it max out the the spectrum of Yahoo!/Mommie Blogs/Facebook/Mobile Applications? Do you have a 2009, 2012, 2015 mobile strategy? The length post provides meaty details and, like most of Kaushik’s writing, offers a mini-course rich in insights.

Facebook introduces Pages Manager on Android

Most reports say Facebook is succeeding in its efforts to conquer the mobile social space. Those efforts continued with the quiet introduction of a new app for Android that mirrors features available on iOS devices. The Pages Manager app is now available on Google Play. With the app, Page admins can “post new updates and photos across multiple pages, view and reply to private messages, receive Page notifications the minute someone interacts or comments on it, as well as delivering Page insights on a mobile device,” according to Matt Brian writing for The Next Web.

Spread the startup’s word, get a piece of the company

The UK startup Frostbox sounds like a good idea. The service stories any data you contribute to social media channels, serving as a kind of social backup. Getting the word out is always a challenge for startups, so Frostbox turned to a service called Wahooly, which invites people deemed influential (based on their Klout scores over 60) to participate in various campaigns for the companies they choose to support. Spread the word enough and you get shares in the company in an exchange of influence for ownership. According to Todd Wasserman in a Mashable post, “The share of equity is based on the amount of social media activity…Typically, companies offer equity in 1% to 8% of their companies.” The equity is paid in “points,” not direct equity, which helps the startups get around SEC rules. Not every company gives up pieces of itself; some give prizes, like an iPad Mini. I signed on via Wahooly for the Frostbox effort just to see how it all works. If it’s interesting enough, I’ll report on it here on my blog.

Heads of state see more value in Twitter than heads of companies

Few business leaders maintain Twitter accounts (or accounts on any of the popular social media platforms). Running a company is one thing; running a country is another, since three out of four heads of state are Twitter users—nearly double the count from two years ago. According to a report from The Digital Policy Council, 75% of heads of state were Twitter users as of last month. Of the 164 countries in the world, the leaders of 123 have Twitter accounts using their personal name or through an official government office. Writing for Smarter Planet, Joe McKendrick notes that “Established political leaders are…discovering the power of Twitter—there ‘has been the steady increase in the number of heads of state that are using Twitter, and recognizing the benefits of the vehicle to allow for direct interaction with constituents,’ DPC says.” U.S. President Barack Obama leads the list with 24.6 million followers, followed by Venezuela’s ailing president Hugo Chavez, Turkey’s president Abdullah Gul, Jordan’s Queen Rania, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, and brzil’s president Dilma Rouseff. Meanwhile, Mashable reporters that only 3 of the U.S. Congress’s 79 new members don’t have Twitter accounts.

Google belongs in your recruiting strategy

Recruiters think LinkedIn when they think about social, online channels, but The Fordyce Letter thinks you should include Google+ as well. “Using the network could allow you to rise in Google’s search results, building your own credibility as a go-to resource for recruiting in attracting more candidates,” according to Dunya Carter, the Australia-based marketing and HR specialist who wrote the piece. She adds, “With the types of people Google+ attracts these days, you may find it easier to locate people who could be candidates in emerging job opportunities in technology and other cutting-edge industries.”

Why your marketing effort needs a journalist

There’s hope for all those out-of-work journalists out there. Soshable editor JD Rucker argues that “Every company (that) wants to reach the highest level of success in online marketing…needs to have someone acting as a journalist for the company…someone who collects, writes, and distributes news and information about the company, the industry, the customer, the local area—anything that has relevance from a marketing perspective.” While acknowledging the quality of some content writing services, “they’re designed specifically to build SEO content,” Rucker argues. “They rarely put out content that is worth reading and sharing, which is the goal of your company journalist.” Rucker sees in-house journalists fulfilling four roles: earning high search rankings, creating content people will want to share, getting content to appear in places where target audiences will find it, and humanizing the business. We’re already seeing companies embracing the idea, with Intel hiring journalists to write its Free Press content while Cisco Systems farms out articles to freelancers with impressive credentials, including former Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek writers.

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