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August 12th, 2013

Hashtags: #How #much #is #too #much?

Hashtags: #How #much #is #too #much?

The #.

Whether you‘re a Brit and call it the hash key or North American and know it as the pound sign, when it comes to social media, # is lovingly known as the hashtag.

It originally made its debut on Twitter in 2007. Over the past six years it has spread to Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and Tumblr. It’s even been sneaked in by LinkedIn.

Hashtag help

When it comes to hashtags, do you know how to properly use the ‘#’ symbol?

The hashtag is a very useful way to tag content; yet there’s nothing more counterintuitive — or annoying — than too many hashtags. Even the earliest adopter of the hashtag, Chris Messina, the open source advocate and engineer credited with introducing the symbol to Twitter,  said: “The worst thing is what I might call ‘poor hashtag grammar.’ Like #when #people #tag #every#word #in #a #sentence!”

Yes, sometimes it’s a way to flag something different and you can be quirky and have some fun with hashtags. But we all know that one person (or company) that consistently #s almost every word.

To not be that person, double check against some practice hashtag tips the next time you find yourself wanting to hit the # key one too many times:

  1. Consider the # as a keyword or main topic of your post – it should reinforce whatever subject you are writing about
  2.  (Generally) hashtag nouns not verbs. For example, when talking about your fast and secure cloud technology, anything can be fast and secure — so hashtag ‘cloudtechnology’ or ‘cloud’ to get better search optimization.
  3. Be specific. Hashtags are valuable because they help users pinpoint relevant information. The more specific you are, the more they will appreciate you and your content.
  4. Don’t use spaces or punctuation marks in your hashtag. It breaks up the searchable term, and you’ll look like a social media rookie. (Example: #publicrelations, NOT #public-relations or #public relations.)
  5. Limit yourself to a maximum two hashtags per post. Even Twitter tells users, “Hashtags are most powerful when you use them judiciously. Including more than two in a tweet is probably overkill.”

So when you find yourself clicking the ‘Post’ or ‘Tweet’ icon, remember to think before you hashtag…

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Posted in Hazel Butters: Opinion, PR Practices, Social Media | Comments Off on Hashtags: #How #much #is #too #much?

 

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July 8th, 2013

Three reasons why we use, encourage our technology PR clients to use, and train people to use WordPress

Three reasons why we use, encourage our technology PR clients to use, and train people to use WordPress

wordpress logoWe’ve already blogged about the importance of establishing a company blog.  You may be considering which platform to host your blog on – and we would recommend your answer be WordPress – and here’s why.

WordPress really has come a long way since it was considered a basic blogging platform. With plug-ins, new features and other enhancements, it has become the premier content management system, with over 68 million pages on the Web run on WordPress today.

Three reasons why we use, encourage our clients to use, and train people on WordPress:

Ease of use:  The best advice has always been to keep it simple. WordPress does this fabulously – allowing users to post content in visual or HTML text version. Whether you’re a diehard coder or an amateur, these options are designed to cater to all levels of experience.

Enhancing SEO:  WordPress’ blog code attracts Google robots and other magnets, helping boost your SEO and webpage traffic. With the right setup and plug ins (we like Yoast SEO), the platform will tell you just how high you rank when it comes to search terms and keywords, and where you can improve.

Seamless with social media:  With the right plugins, WordPress can post new content directly to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. As a PR firm with experience in social media, we can’t stress the importance of cross promoting on social networks, and this WordPress feature now makes it easier than ever to do so.

Want to try it for yourself? Then head to wordpress.org to install WordPress. Want some pointers?  Then join our  Google Hangout tomorrow at 2pm EDT or, if you’re in the Boston area, sign up for our ‘(Successfully) Wrestle with WordPress over a weekend‘ courses.

More reasons to follow tomorrow!

 

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Posted in Boston, Prompt locations, Training, WordPress | Comments Off on Three reasons why we use, encourage our technology PR clients to use, and train people to use WordPress

 

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March 21st, 2013

Climbing Mount Everest just got a whole lot easier

Climbing Mount Everest just got a whole lot easier

Google Maps has been working hard lately to develop and utilize new mapping capabilities, such as skiing and diving features, taking you up the slopes at your favorite resort, down into the Great Barrier Reef, and inside your home team’s stomping ground, like the Indianapolis Colts’ stadium. Most impressively though, is the Google Maps Adventurer team’s recent journey to capture the top of the world’s four highest mountains: Everest, Kilimanjaro, Elbrus and Aconcagua.

In the face of mudslides, earthquakes, snow storms and flashfloods, the Google-employed amateur hikers* made it to the top of each landmark (or the base camp in Mt. Everest’s case), capturing the trails with a digital, fish-eye lens. The journey was also captured in writing – with a day-by-day recap available on Google’s LatLong blog, which can be viewed here.

Thanks to the Adventurer’s hard work, now you can scale the mountains from your couch, or perhaps on your office lunch break, for a bit of a mental vacation. Alternatively, if you’re daring enough, you can use the maps for their true purpose – finding your actually footing on the rocky terrain.  The expedition will, with any luck, help to reduce hiker disappearance amid the snowy landscapes (weather- and nature-caused dangers aside).

We’ve always loved Google Maps for checking out creepy, aerial pictures of our own houses – investigating whose car was in the driveway the day photographers flew overhead, and zooming in as far as possible to get a glimpse of your brother in the backyard. But in a few short years Google has provided us with the technology, and the scenery, to make the idea of ‘virtual travel’ a real possibility. Don’t have the gutso to climb Mount Everest? Not to worry, because as long as you’re okay with sacrificing 12 days in sub-zero temperatures and the bragging rights gained from reaching the physical peak, you no longer truly need it.

Mount Everest

*As reported by CNN, Google Maps recruited employees who had previously planned trips to the four highest mountains for the Google Adventurer program.

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Posted in Google, Technology | Comments Off on Climbing Mount Everest just got a whole lot easier

 

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December 17th, 2012

Who searched what? A Google-based year in review

Who searched what? A Google-based year in review

Happy new year from PromptWith 2012 winding down and the New Year quickly approaching us, the search engine masterminds at Google have published the company’s annual Zeitgeist list for the past year. The list highlights the top ten trending and most popular searches each year, dating back to 2001, when we were more concerned with old-time favorites like Harry Potter and Windows XP.

Harry, Ron and Hermione didn’t make into this year’s list. Here’s what did make it in, ranked by Google as the three most popular search topics of 2012 in the US:

  1. Whitney Houston – Due to her unexpected death back in February, the much-loved recording artist, actress and producer was a frequent search term throughout the year
  2. Hurricane Sandy – The natural disaster hit the Caribbean, Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern regions of the US in late October, with New York and New Jersey affected the most. The super storm flooded streets, tunnels and subway lines and power was lost in across many areas, including New York
  3. Election 2012 – It was the Obama vs Romney battle heard around the world (or so it seems). This year’s presidential election was seemingly everywhere. During debates and campaigning, ‘Big Bird’ became more than just a Sesame Street character and ‘binders full of women’ quickly caught on with critics, comedians and the overall general public. Though a close race, President Obama secured four more years in the Oval Office, beating out opponent and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney

Other topics to round out the top ten list included (in order of most searched to least): The Hunger Games, Jeremy Lin, Olympics 2012 (thinking of you, Prompt London), Amanda Todd, Gangnam Style, Michael Clark Duncan and KONY 2012.

Of course, as a public relations firm with a strong interest in technology, we had to ask ourselves – where are the big tech names, like Apple, Microsoft or Samsung, on this list?

Technology products were dissected in a separate list by Zeitgeist, that revealed the top five tech gadgets: in first place ranked the iPad 3, followed by iPad mini, Samsung Galaxy S3, Kindle Fire, and last but not least, Nexus 7.

To view the complete list of trending technology and gadgets, including a neat list of most liked Google Doodles (I personally like the Olympic sports Doodles run during the summer months), please click here.

Whatever your preferred choice is in tech products, presidents and even Google Doodles, the Prompt team hoped you had a joyous and happy 2012 filled with many unforgettable memories. Here’s to the New Year, and to the new opportunities (and Google searches) it will bring!

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Posted in Boston, Communications consultancy opinion, Google, Holidays, Technology | Comments Off on Who searched what? A Google-based year in review

 

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December 6th, 2012

Which tablets do you take? And is the mouse a squeak away from extinction?

Which tablets do you take? And is the mouse a squeak away from extinction?

Prompt Communications Tech SurveyRegular market research is essential to ensure that you are still tapping the correct markets for your products and services. At Prompt, we undertake all aspects of research, data collection and statistical analysis. Perhaps the easiest and quickest way to take a rapid snapshot of market opinions, is to conduct a survey.

One recent survey we conducted across US and UK tech consumers proved to be a great example of rapid opinion gathering. The survey was conducted online and in-person. It revealed that Apple is still far more sought after than its competitors in the tablet world, and remains better thought of than its competitors in terms of innovation, design, usability, retail and marketing effort.

Perhaps most tellingly, despite significant launches from Microsoft, Samsung, Google and Amazon in 2012, more survey respondents are hoping for iPads, iPad minis and iPhones in their stockings this year, over other tablet-like devices!

In the tablet and smartphone market, companies are constantly looking for ways to become more innovative and to aggressively increase their market share. A responsibility lies with these vendors to be clearer about specs, features and benefits, and to help consumers to navigate the maze of new mobile devices. Clarity, common English and transparency are crucial. Meanwhile consumers are becoming increasingly aware of what products are available and the features they are looking for, while gaining a deeper understanding of comparable benefits.

In the same survey, we also found that although losing popularity with the rise of tablets, the computer mouse isn’t headed for extinction just yet.  That finding probably surprised me the most – personally I work at a touchscreen computer, a laptop with a touchpad, a tablet and a smartphone – all without a mouse in sight. I still carry one around in my handbag though, so perhaps I’m just sentimental…

Would you like to weigh in with your own opinions? Perhaps you’d like to add your own support for Apple, provide some vocal backing for other tablet brands, or just stick up for the mouse? We’d love to hear from you. The survey is still open. Please just click here to share views on tablets, mice and your holiday wish-list.

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Posted in Apple, Media, Microsoft, Prompt locations, Survey, Technology | Comments Off on Which tablets do you take? And is the mouse a squeak away from extinction?

 

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May 18th, 2012

Are you sitting comfortably? Here's 'The Story of Send'

Are you sitting comfortably? Here's 'The Story of Send'

'The Story of Send' tells us that Google is so hot, its employees have to wear shorts

Google and its products split opinions and loyalties. But whether you’re a big fan and avid user, or have reservations about some of the corporation’s policies, you surely have to be impressed with its technologies from time to time? Perhaps it’s just hard to connect the tiny start-up that gave us its first no-frills search engine back in the late 90s, with the huge behemoth powering the cloud of services we see today?

When Google went public in 1998, it did so under the mission statement: “to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Which I guess is part of the reason that it’s still devoting effort to producing superbly executed branding and marketing projects like ‘The Story of Send’, which you’ll now find waiting to be clicked under Google Search.

The Story of Send is an animated tour of the journey of an email through Google infrastructure. It was developed and designed by Google Green, and unashamedly promotes Google’s data centre security and energy conservation credentials. Along the way you can stop off to look at galleries or watch videos that show you how Google’s data centres operate, what steps are taken on the server floor to protect data, and why some Google employees have to go to work wearing shorts.

Google says the project was an effort to show people how the journey of an email really works, because although it’s something that takes just seconds, it’s also something that has to work smoothly billions of times a day. Now, I’m assuming you probably knew that already, and also have a fair idea of the basic journey your messages have to take from your desktop to their destinations. But that’s no reason not to spend a few minutes watching The Story of Send. It’s great.

If you’ve ever worked with writers and illustrators to try and develop a simple, fun way of conveying dry, complex concepts, you’ll know that what ultimately looks simple, can prove quite a challenging task. This story though is slick, interesting and fun, and well worth the effort. The only thing I’m still trying to work out is, how do the plesiosaurs and vampires help..?


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Posted in Technology | Comments Off on Are you sitting comfortably? Here's 'The Story of Send'

 

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April 19th, 2012

Event recap: Business Innovation in Technology at MIT Media Lab

Event recap: Business Innovation in Technology at MIT Media Lab

One of the many great things about working in Kendall Square is the proximity to MIT. We are, quite literally, a stone’s throw from one of the most innovative and inventive communities in the world, and while MIT may be most known for its work in technology, its business and media resources are also impressive.

Last week, we were lucky to attend MIT Sloan’s ‘Business Innovation in Technology’ event at the MIT Media Lab. The event featured notable entrepreneurs, from businesses both large and small, who provided insight into the innovation we see, and expect to see, in the web, mobile, media and entertainment markets. For example, Stephanie Tilenius, VP of Commerce and Payments at Google, discussed and demonstrated how Google Wallet works, and shared some interesting statistics about mobile phone use. (I now know that, on average, a person’s smartphone is never more than 3 feet away from them – says the girl whose phone doesn’t leave her peripheral vision.)

And while all of the speakers were informative, insightful and funny, our favorite speech of the day came from Clarence Wooten, a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” and Silicon Valley heavy hitter. His presentation was simple and to the point: ‘12 Lessons in Entrepreneurship’

  1. A paycheck is an addiction: “Much like heroin or crack cocaine”, as explained by Clarence. Entrepreneurs have to possess a different type of drive, as their paycheck isn’t simply determined by hours clocked, but by company success and hard revenue.
  2. Beware of Naysayers: Where would Instagram be if they had listened to everyone who said their idea was stupid? 1 billion dollars poorer, that’s where
  3. Just do it: This goes hand in hand with #2. If you have an idea, act now. Because someone else will if you don’t
  4. Fail fast. Fail cheap: It’s very rare that your first idea will be a success, so live lean where you can
  5. Partner Pitfalls: You will almost always have a co-founders dilemma, so contribute 50/50 and set up reverse investing
  6. Be naïve: Try to unlearn the rules of corporate America
  7. Business is a team sport: So always try to recruit A players
  8. Challenge your comfort zone
  9. Image matters: If you’re uncomfortable with or lack artistic creativity, hire design people
  10. Shadow a leader: learn from the best because they’ve already figured out what it takes to succeed
  11. Investors expect their money back: You may only get a couple chances to lose VC money, and you definitely only get one chance to lose an angel investor’s money
  12. Cash and customers: These are two things that you must learn how to manage properly to succeed as an entrepreneur

And as a Maryland native, Clarence closed his speech with a quote from football great, Ray Lewis. “You need to be pissed off for greatness. Otherwise you’re okay with being mediocre.”

To learn more about the MIT Media Lab, MIT Sloan, or the ‘Business Innovation in Technology’ event, visit http://sloanhitechconference.com/. We’re already gearing up for next year!

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December 1st, 2011

A Googol of Green Energy Found Underground

A Googol of Green Energy Found Underground

Google Earth EGS map

We’ve been particularly focused on researching Green Technology here at Prompt over the last few weeks, but we have to admit to unearthing nothing quite as impressive as the ‘Googol of Heat Beneath Our Feet‘ that Google has been busy mapping.

The company has funded and provided the technology to enable Southern Methodist University to release a new map of geothermal energy potential. Like all good maps, it points to treasure, revealing enough viable geothermal resources (a googol of heat, no less) in the top 6.5km of the US part of the earth’s crust, to provide ten times the power capacity currently provided by coal.

If you’d like to explore the new Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) maps in more depth (quite literally), you’ll need to download and install the latest release of Google Earth. The maps then reveal the ‘EGS Potential’ for depths from 3km to 6.5km (lower than that depth is currently regarded as ‘theoretical potential’).

Google is keen to point out that its calculations “exclude inaccessible zones such as National Parks and other protected lands.”

Open the EGS map in Google Earth today and let us know your thoughts on this untapped energy and whether we’re likely to see Green Technology relaise its potential in our lifetime.


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November 18th, 2011

Shooting Daguerre's

Shooting Daguerre's

Louis Daguerre, 1787 – 1851

Did you notice today’s Google Doodle by any chance? It celebrates a man born in 1787 who had a direct influence on the evolution of many of the gadgets and tools all around us today, from photography to PhotoShop, megapixel smartphones to CGI, and even (some might argue) the Open Source movement…

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, French artist and phycisist, invented the Daguerreotype – a process of transferring photographs onto silver-coated copper plates that gave photos the gift of long life for the first time. The plates were exposed to iodine, creating silver iodide that was then opened to light and coated with mercury vapour before a fixer of salt water.

After he had perfected the Daguerreotype process in 1839, the French government acquired the patent and announced that the invention was a gift “free to the world”. Daguerre made no money from his world-changing invention and received just a state pension in return.


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October 12th, 2011

We've seen the future and it's Google+

We've seen the future and it's Google+

Google+ recently opened its invite-only doors to the entire online community. Despite the recent jabber on slowing participation numbers since the social service left beta, it’s still in its earliest days and we think there is great communications value to be uncovered.

As a PR, content creation, and comms agency we practice what we preach. In the past few weeks we’ve started utilizing Google+ to share ideas, brainstorm and update each other. One of the most effective features for us so far has been the Hangouts—with team members constantly moving and traveling around the world, being about to see and speak to multiple colleagues at the same time during team updates and internal collaboration has been great.

There’s always buzz and hype when a new technology or platform is announced, especially from a big player such as Google. But as we all know, it’s the unique features that come with a product that determines whether or not it has staying power and widespread reach. From what we’ve seen, Google+ is definitely on the right track. The Hangout feature allows for engaging ‘face to face’ meetings, instant uploads, IM chats, and voice-recognized screen switch so the largest video screen highlights the person who is talking at that moment. For us, it has provided a new way of sharing content with each other and in the future, our clients as well.

We think the implications will be far-reaching, from customer service to targeted marketing campaigns, product announcements, news launches – and of course, internal collaboration.

As a team that thrives on communications (after all, it’s a part of our name and premise) it has been great to learn about a new and unique platform hands-on. So watch this space as we uncover more features of Google +; we’ll be sure to share our best hints and tips as we get to know its uses, efficiencies and tricks.

If you’re also getting up to speed with Google Plus, then add us at http://gplus.to/PromptBoston.

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September 13th, 2011

The past, present and future of marketing

The past, present and future of marketing

There is no debate that we live in a technology driven world. It has changed the way we shop, decide what restaurant to eat at and how we connect to our loved ones far away. Although we sometimes struggle to keep up, technology often dictates our day-to-day activities in ways we haven’t even thought of.

This week in Boston, the Future M convention is underway, with seminars and panel discussions about the past, present and future of marketing. Prompt has already attended a panel discussion about the future and evolution of marketing for small businesses. According to the panel, three things are transforming marketing for small businesses – social and mobile media, support for local businesses (Google calculated that around 50% of all mobile device searches are for local services) and loyalty programs. In recent years, the mobile phone has changed everything; with just the touch of a button there are a plethora of applications and games on all smart phones and platforms. The best part is that apps and other programs can be created at very little cost to the small business owner. When it comes to successful marketing, the discussion panel stressed that businesses need to make their voices heard, find opportunities to differentiate themselves and relax on revenue drive. If you have a unique product, good customer service and patience, the revenue will follow.

At Prompt, we pride ourselves on being knowledgeable about and implementing successful social media and marketing plans. Although we are a B2B firm, some of our clients are looking to reach out to their customer base and it’s part of our job to help them do that efficiently and productively. At Prompt, we’ve learned that good marketing must be engaging. Blogs can’t write themselves. Neither can Twitter feeds, Facebook updates or LinkedIn pages. And although these things can be time consuming, extending your virtual presence will not only increase revenue numbers, but also your appreciation for the technology that’s allowing you to do it.

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August 15th, 2011

Google+ marches on: Launches games

Google+ marches on: Launches games

The social networking battle has begun: Google+ is gaming. The new social networking platform, launched in late June, has rolled out Google+ Games including recognizable titles such as Angry Birds, Farmville, and Bejeweled Blitz. Google+ launched gaming this morning and Facebook is already in hot pursuit, rolling out new features to their games only hours after Google. So will the rivalry ever end?

Google+ was created with the goal of making social networking more like how it’s done in real life. It has already scored millions of users, becoming the fastest growing social media site ever, attracting die-hard Googlers like flies to honey.

Zynga, one of Facebook’s primary gaming platforms, was a sure in with Google+ considering Google is invested in the company, making the partnership a no-brainer. But unlike Facebook, Google+ allows users to keep gaming private from newsfeeds—something Facebook took a long time to put into place.

So will users bite? Google doesn’t need any help gaining users, but it seems as if people will soon be picking sides. Many argue that Google+ is so successful because they fixed the problems the Facebook and Twitter had before it even lauched, alleviating user headaches and frustrations.

In a blog post, Vic Gundotra, a senior vice president of Google engineering and developer of Google+ said, “If you’re not interested in gaming it’s, easy to ignore them.” He continued by saying streams would remain focused on the conversations and people you care about.

The social networking war is waging because different sites offer different pros and cons and users are afraid of choosing sides. No one quite knows what Google+ will roll out with next, but one thing in undeniable: sites will continue to battle for the newest, coolest features, and who can release them to the public first.

 

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