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SA a top adventure destination

first_img20 February 2008US adventure travel website iExplore, which caters for high-end travellers searching for adventure and unique experiences, has listed South Africa as second in its list of top worldwide travel destinations for 2007 – a steady climb from third in 2006 and sixth in 2005.Established in 1999, Chicago-based iExplore.com sells tours all over the world, focusing on adventure and experiential destinations, and has won awards from magazines such as Forbes, Time and Travel & Leisure for being the best adventure travel website.According to its iExplore, adventure travel includes activities like hiking, biking, diving, and multi-sport tours, while experiential travel includes activities like cultural, expedition cruising, wildlife safari and culinary tours.“This is a wonderful accolade for our country,” Cape Town Tourism CEO Mariette du Toit-Helmbold told local newspaper The Weekender last Saturday. “Cape Town Tourism applauds the efforts of our adventure industry and the valuable contribution made to keeping SA top of mind when it comes to accolades and visitor choice.”Du Toit-Helmbold said it was vital to build on the experiential tourism market, adding that South Africa’s experience-rich destinations were perfectly positioned to attract a bigger slice of the market.Egypt held on to its top position for the third straight year, with the rest of iExplore’s top 10 largely unchanged from 2006.“We continue to see heavy demand for the man-made and natural wonders of the world, as evidenced by the destinations on this list,” iExplore founder and CEO George Deeb said in a statement.Other destinations showing strong growth in 2007 included Venezuela (up to #13), Jordan (#16), Nepal (#17) and Morocco (#18). Bumped from last year’s top 10 were Italy (down to #26) and Argentina (#21).“These movements largely reflect emerging destinations like Venezuela, stabilising political situations like Nepal and the devaluation of the US dollar, impacting demand to Italy and the rest of Europe,” iExplore said on its website.SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Persecution Of A Fall Guy For Anonymous: The Feds vs. Barrett Brown

first_imgWhy Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… adam popescu Since his arrest, Brown’s mother Karen has also been targeted by authorities. She pled guilty to obstructing the execution of a search warrant, and now faces up to a year in jail and a $100,00 fine. Sentencing has not yet been scheduled. Brown has gotten some support from the Internet community, but nothing like the outpouring for the recently passed Aaron Swartz. Anonymous created a White House petition to stop his prosecution, but the reprieve didn’t come close to getting the required 100,000 signatures by the April 20 deadline. Supporters have built several sites to educate the public about his plight, the timeline of his case and to help raise money for legal representation. Hard Times For The Fall GuyBrown’s supporters have raised about $20,000 for legal fees, and Brown has a new team of lawyers replacing his previous public defendants. But the court had up until last week frozen Brown’s access to those funds, which meant that Brown’s new legal team of Ahmed Ghappour and Charles Swift were essentially working pro bono. But that all changed last Wednesday when the court allowed the transfer of funds to pay for the lawyers’ travel expenses and fees.It’s still a long way to Brown’s September trial, which could end up conflated in public perception with two other prominent hacker prosecutions. There’s the case of Matthew Keys, the journalist facing a $750,000 fine and jail time for allegedly feeding passwords to Anonymous members who then defaced the Los Angeles Times‘ website. Andrew Auernheimer, the hacker also known as Weev, is also appealing his sentence of more than 41 months in prison for his role in a 2010 hack of AT&T.(See also Hacker Crackdown: Blame AT&T’s Crappy Security, Not Weev.)All of these cases are related to the much-maligned Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) the outdated law that has led to a number of questionable prosecutions — often of activists like Aaron Swartz rather than actual computer criminals. By the time Brown’s trial gets going, there could be government movement to reform the poorly constructed law.(See also ‘Aaron’s Law’ Promises To Reduce Hacker Penalties.)Prosecuting Brown Won’t Stop HackingThe federal case against Brown, once you understand the details, doesn’t pass the laugh test. It turns hyperlinking into a crime akin to breaking into secured computers and casts loose and admittedly unwise Internet soapboxing as criminal conspiracy against federal agents. And it turns one link into 11 separate charges of alleged identity theft.“Barrett is facing decades in prison for cut-and-pasting a link,” laments his lawyer, Ahmed Ghappour, a cybersecurity expert at the University of Texas at Austin. Were it not for the hysteria over WikiLeaks and Anonymous attacks on government, financial and security-contractor sites, this case probably wouldn’t exist.Arresting hackers and fringe collaborators doesn’t seem to be slowing the tide of cyberattacks. The last 12 months have seen some of the biggest cyber attacks on record. Denial of service attacks are up 12% since 2011, according to data from the security firm Arbor Networks. If the government really wants to stop hacking attacks, it needs to focus more on the actual perpetrators and less on show-trial prosecutions of peripheral figures like Brown.Which isn’t to say that Brown himself deserves to get off scot-free, just that his proposed punishment should fit his alleged crime. No matter what the circumstances, once you threaten the FBI, the feds are pretty much guaranteed to come down on you. And even Barrett Brown should have known that.Photos courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai…center_img Related Posts Hours later, while on a live feed on TinyChat, Brown’s home was raided and he was arrested. The whole thing is captured in this almost surreal video:  Barrett Lancaster Brown, best known as the so-called former mouthpiece for the hacker collective Anonymous, is sitting in a jail cell in Texas. For the past eight months, Mansfield Law Enforcement Center has been home for the journalist and activist now known as Prisoner 45047177.Three hots and a cot will continue to be his routine at least until September, when he is scheduled to stand trial on 17 charges, including allegations that he threatened an FBI agent and committed identity theft and credit card fraud.The slightly built 31-year-old former heroin addict denies the charges. What he does admit is that he used his hacker connections to look under rocks and uncover what he considered evidence that the U.S. government was using private security companies to clip the wings of Internet activists and sympathetic journalists.Brown: I Wasn’t A HackerBrown’s sometimes questionable behavior and affiliations make him a confusing and polarizing character. He claims he never hacked anything, and we’ll probably never know with certainty exactly which details in his story stack up, or what involvement he had with Anonymous’ core hackers.There doesn’t seem to be much evidence Brown was involved in any actual hacking, despite his connection to both Anonymous and his obsessive interest in federal security contractors. But his outspokenness, drug history and outlandish claims make him unsympathetic and hard to believe — an unlikely poster child for Internet freedom. And his unbalanced, over-the-top YouTube rants — more on those below — made him an easy target for the feds. What we do know is that in early 2011, Anonymous targeted a security contractor called HBGary Federal and its CEO Aaron Barr after Barr publicly claimed he’d infiltrated the hacker collective. When Barr threatened to reveal the identities of Anonymous members, the group hacked straight into HBGary’s servers, stealing 70,000 company emails.Brown, through his affiliation with Anonymous, then posted a link to those hacked company documents on a public website called Project PM and wrote about his findings for the U.K. Guardian. Brown, who seems to have been conducting an obsessive investigation of both HBGary Federal and Stratfor (another security contractor hacked by Anonymous), claimed the material proved that the companies were hired by the government to monitor and shut down various online activist groups. In particular, he alleged that HBGary was working with high-level government agencies to feed fake information to WikiLeaks.The aftermath of the HBGary episode led to Barr’s unceremonious departure from the firm. Brown would later claim on YouTube that Barr’s well-connected friends then mounted a federal vendetta against him.In The Feds’ CrosshairsBrown, one of the few public figures available for authorities to target for the activities of Anonymous, is basically a fall guy for the hacker collective. He faces 100 years behind bars if found guilty on all counts. And right now he’s stewing in a cell where he may be getting less than proper care. In a Pastebin message from last September, Brown claimed he did not receive appropriate medical attention for crushed ribs suffered during the FBI’s raid of his home.Between his connection to Anonymous and his obsession with digging up dirt on the national security state, Brown pinged up on the feds’ radar pretty quickly. He was first indicted last year after allegedly threatening federal agents. He was arrested, then subsequently indicted a second time for allegedly linking to stolen documents from Stratfor that included credit card data.The third indictment involves an obstruction charge of concealing evidence, wherein Brown allegedly hid two laptops when federal agents stormed his mother’s home in a raid. The laptops were eventually found and confiscated. The alleged threats and credit-card charges led prosecutors to push for a life sentence. In some ways, Brown’s muckraking wasn’t all that different from what many journalists have always done, updated to employ digital tools. Reporting based on leaked documents — which, of course, aren’t usually authorized for release — is as old as investigative journalism itself.But Brown pushed the boundaries, and his drug history and proximity to the hacker community made him more vulnerable than other rabble rousers such as columnist Glenn Greenwald. Brown wasn’t a staffer at a major publication, and his own blistering public statements and threats, on both television and YouTube, gave the government all the motivation it needed to take him down.Barrett Brown’s Incendiary VideosMajor news organizations like the New York Times and The Guardian both describe Brown as a victim of persecution. And in many ways he is, although some of his alleged actions are criminal by definition, such as threatening the life of a federal agent. Brown’s legal troubles began when his mother’s Dallas home was first raided in March of 2012. At that time, the feds confiscated his laptop, and by his account terrorized his mother and sent his life into a downward spiral.  After the raid, Brown took to the Web to tell his side of the story. On Sept. 11, 2012, Brown posted a trio of videos lashing out at perceived enemies:At around the 12:00 mark of video number 2, Brown says that the FBI views him as a bad guy, and that he’s going to prove in the court system just how bad of a guy he is. About a minute later he demands that the FBI return his laptop, notebook and Xbox. In the third video, shot and released a day later, Brown brings up his heroin addiction and subsequent move to suboxone, a narcotic used to treat oppiate addiction. At around the 12:00 mark of this video, Brown warns that he is armed and has been trained to shoot, saying if any FBI agents come to his home, particlary one agent that really irked him for allegedly harassing his mother:I will shoot them and kill them… I have no choice left but to defend my family, myself, my girlfriend, my reputation, my work, my activism, my ideas and the revelation that my friends are going to prison so we can have a chance to get out for other people. So they would matter. And frankly, you know, it was pretty obvious I was going to be dead before I was 40 or so, so I wouldn’t mind going out with two FBI sidearms like a f***ing Egyptian pharaoh. Adios. Tags:#Anonymous#Barrett Brown#online piracy#privacy#security#wikileaks last_img read more

Autodesk Smoke 2013 Power Tips & Tricks

first_imgBonus Tip: If you Freeze the outputs of non-animated TEXT with a MUX node your render speed will increase. TEXT doesn’t have to render the type for every frame. TEXT is an old tool and not well optimized.#2. Create CFX Clips to Slip Multiple, Complex Keyframes TogetherCreating CFX Clips out of your nodes has multiple functions. One lesser known function is to slip all of the keyframe animations along all of the nodes at once.Many keyframe channels are not accessible in the larger CFX Animation Channel Menu.  For instance, if you have keyframes inside of Action with the internal Color Correct or Modular Keyer, especially with Gmasks, those Keyframes don’t slip with the overall timing of Action. They exist in their own timing world.If you have an animation inside of the Modular Keyer with the Gmask that happens from frame 30 to frame 60, and you slip the overall animation of Action by sliding the Keyframe Tracks, the main Action keyframes will slip, but the Gmask Keyframes still happen from 30 to 60.This is somewhat annoying and a bit of a ‘gotcha’ if you don’t know what’s happening. TEXT is another node that behaves outside of the main ConnectFX Animation world. So any animation of your type can’t be slid with the tracks mode as a whole with all of the other nodes.  Sparks and the Modular Keyer outside of Action also behave this way.By using CFX Clips, all of the keyframes for all of the nodes, including those nodes when the animation channel is isolated from the main CFX, will slip if you change the timing of a created CFX Clip.Select all of the nodes for which you want to slip the keyframes. You can ALT-click the lead node and all of the nodes in the tree will highlight. Right-click and select Create CFX Clip. A new clip will be created.  Connect the output as needed if there are more nodes upstream, and feel free to delete the original tree to tidy things up.Open up the timing view and find your new CFX Clip.  You can select the clip and you can slip the timing forwards or backwards.Once you have the desired effect, you can leave the clip as is or you can right-click and Explode CFX and your nodes are returned. But in this instance, the timing of all of the animations are shifted, including those pesky hidden ones.#3 Bump Mapping Your Textures on 3D ModelsSmoke has 3 mapping textures. Diffuse and Reflection Maps are obvious when you want to texture your 3D models. But these textures are flat because they don’t react to lighting.  The model itself does, but not the texture on the model.  But you can create some depth to your textures with the Displacement Map.You can create a displacement map from your texture by creating a hi-con version of the texture with the AutoMatte Node.You can also add a blur to soften the map if there is a lot of detail. Once you are happy with your bump map, you can attach it to you GEOM/MATERIAL node just like the Diffuse or Reflection Maps. Become a Smoke power editor! Follow these tips and tricks for Autodesk Smoke 2013.#1. Use Stereo Nodes for Double the Power in Smoke’s ConnectFXMany useful nodes in CFX are single channel. Resize, MUX, and Damage have to be duplicated in order to use them with both a Front and a Matte source. This takes time to set up and link the connections.You can speed up your workflow and clean up your schematics by using Stereo Nodes. When Stereo Nodes are active in the FX Nodes for CFX, then each one you drag into the schematic is already linked and grouped. It is basically a prebuilt Group Node. The internal Mimic Link makes each input of the node act as one, so any adjustments to the node get made to both inputs. Now you can Resize the Front and Matte clips together, as well as MUX the Front and Matte Result of a Text Node. You may need to adjust the wireframe of the mesh. The default box has very few polygons. By subdividing and creating more mesh, you can get a bit more detail in the bumps.Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you make better composites in ConnectFX and help you make them faster. Be sure to bookmark the Premiumbeat Blog and check back often for more Autodesk Smoke tips and tricks.center_img Displacement maps have a Software(SW) and a Hardware(HW) processing option. With the hardware option, you can Bump the Normals of the texture map.Now you don’t need much…this is a subtle effect. You can also just nudge the Z position up just enough to catch the light and if you use AO (Ambient Occlusion) in the output node this will help create some real intra-geometry shadows.last_img read more

How To Hire Superstars: Collaborate Early!

first_imgMy sister bought me a book called “The Truth About Managing People” by Stephen Robbins for Christmas.  Not sure if she was trying to tell me something about my managerial skills, but I am enjoying the book.  Chapter 3 in the book is “Tips for Employee Interviews” which I found to be rather uninspiring and it led me to think a bit about how we do hiring at HubSpot/SB2.0.  Do any of you have any great interview best practices out there you could share with us? — Brian Halligan. At my first job out of college, my first interview was with the vp of sales (of a high growth software startup).  Before I even said hello or shook his hand he said, “I wouldn’t wear that suit to a sh*tfight.”  As it was for a sales job, I thought this was a pretty good tactic to see if I could think on my feet, see whether I could defray conflict while standing up for myself, and to see whether I had a backbone.  …I don’t necessarily recommend this tactic to everyone — this particular interviewer is a unique guy that is currently a CEO of what became a large software company and he pulls this stuff off better than most. We have three interviews in the next week.  One is a developer/designer type and two are marketing types.  All three are folks were introduced to me through colleagues as top performers.  I suppose the “traditional” hiring workflow would be as follows: For some reason, I never even considered doing this type of process with these candidates.  Here’s our new, improved workflow which seems to be working well for us these days: Here are a couple of other best practices I have come across in the interviewing circuit: If that worked out, we would make an offer to the employee along our standard guidelines and at the end of the negotiation, end up giving them 3-5% more than what was in the offer. If that goes well, I invite the candidate to come back with a project to work on with Patrick, Dharmesh, and I together over the course of an hour.  For example, for the marketing guys, they both are working in medium sized businesses and use sophisticated tools for marketing, so we asked them to demonstrate their toolset to us, describe the aspects of them they like, and describe (in that context) what the gaps were in terms of how the toolset works in for their business.  The session will be more of a strategy session where we all roll our sleeves up and strategize a bit.  I have a brief meeting with the candidate to see if they are relatively sharp; see if they understand what we are up to at HubSpot and are interested in our mission; and see if there is a cultural fit (it turns out we are all rather analytical at HubSpot). What I like about the process is that we get to really work with the candidate together on a project and see what his ability to think on his feat is, what his cognitive capability is, and what his persona is like.  I also like that the candidate gets to see the three of us work as well which avoids a mismatch in expectations for them as well as lowering (or raising) anxiety levels about accepting a position with us.center_img Have each come in for an hour for a formal interview with me where I ask them some stupid questions and review their resume.  If they both liked the candidates, we would ask for “their references” and check them. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Jan 12, 2007 11:51:00 AM, updated March 21 2013 I have overheard pieces of Patrick interviewing developers.  He gives them a hard math problem to solve on the whiteboard — something about glass balls dropped from a building.  I’m hoping he doesn’t ask me to solve it for him some day! If that works out, we would try to come up with an incentive program that maximized benefit for both sides.  (I realize this does not scale particularly well, but it is pretty early days at HubSpot/SB2.0) I have stories from colleagues who have gone through the interview process at McKinsey.  Rather than bother with the standard interview drivel, they give verbal case studies to potential hires asking them to understand a set of facts, ask intelligent questions, and quickly get to the crux of the business problem and solve it. If one seemed sharp, I would have invited my two colleagues to sit down individually with them for an hour each to do the same.  If we all thought the employee was sharp, got the mission, was analytical, and was relatively easy work with, then we would go find our own reference points on him.  …I have never found people whose given references had anything valuable to say that really impacted a hiring decision.last_img read more

HubSpot TV and the Future of Marketing in Boston

first_img Doing It Right Episode Length: 20 minutes, 4 seconds Real-estate agents use Twitter, blogs to boost clients www.inboundmarketing.com/university Marketing Takeaway Download the free webinar Closing Episode #50 – July 24th, 2009 http://itunes.hubspot.tv/ Real Estate Agents Doing it Right –  Subscribe in iTunes: “…there’sa name for what happens when everyone joins the same site at the sametime, perhaps rendering it uncool: “context collapse.” Marketing Takeaway www.HubSpot.tv Click Fraud Special HubSpot TV 1 Year Anniversary on August 7th! (With a tweetup!) #freepastryday- “In just 2 short hours, Starbucks went from being the #4 TrendingTopic on Twitter to #2. During the monitored timeframe, there were morethan 17,942 Tweets that included the word Starbucks.” – Track the buzz around your brand and industry by looking at the number of people searching for it. 21 Books Show Boston Is the New Marketing Hub Marketing Tip of the Week Starbucks has a Win on Twitter with Free Pastries –  Starbucks’ Free Pastry Day = Twitter Win! Webinar: How to Use Online Video for Inbound Marketing Facebook Reaches a Quarter Billion Users & a Billion Video Views  with Facebook Slowly Taking Over the World, Now at 250 Million Users Headlines Marketing Takeaway Marketing Takeaway Sure, The U.S. Has A Lot Of Click Fraud, But At Least We’re Not Vietnam – In an economic downturn, free online content is definitely a win over expensive Super Bowl ads. http://www.youtube.com/getinfotained “Beantown,it turns out, is a hub of activity related to new approaches tomarketing. Call it ‘social media marketing,’ ‘inbound marketing,’ orjust ‘new marketing’ – but the home of the Red Sox, ‘Cheers,’ and PaulRevere is also home to some revolutionary thinking about the changingrelationship between companies and their customers.” Now Connecting 250 Million People FedEx”announced that after 18 years it would forgo advertising during thelast Super Bowl, because it could not justify the expense during thedownturn…” How to interact on Twitter: @ repcor Madison Avenue Will Be Watching FedEx’s Web Videos Facebook hits one billion video views Fed Ex Nixes Their Superbowl Ad in Favor of Online Video “Thenumber of people searching for the term “economic depression” on Googleis down to normal levels, Summers said. Searches for the term were upfour-fold when the recession deepened in the earlier part of the year,and the recent shift goes to show consumer confidence is higher…” in your tweet. “Facebookfaces formidable competition in the countries where home-basedincumbents maintain a dominant user base. China’s QQ instant messagingnetwork boasts an estimated 300 million users while Russia’s Facebookclone Vkontakte hosts 38 million users.” The Future of Marketing is…..BOSTON! The Future of Marketing: Books by Bostonians How do you get started with YouTube, video podcasting, live streaming, or viral videos. – For now Facebook is the place to be. If that changes, we’ll let you know. Is the use of directories submissions useful or harmful? Marketing Takeaway Launch of IMU 2! Go signup on “Itjust cracks me up that there are still so many realtors who don’tunderstand how powerful this medium is,” Bastian added. “Honestly, it’skind of good for those of us who know it.” – Keep yourself educated on the latest in marketing and be flexible to changing your strategies. ~25.6% of clicks in the US are suspected click fraud Forum Fodder  , @ Larry Summers cites Google search as progress Facebook at Age Five – Read what thought leaders are reading to keep up on the latest and greatest ideas. Can Google Predict the Economy? – If you are buying a lot of PPC traffic, you want to protect yourself by being on the lookout for click fraud! Intro Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack karenrubin to learn how to use online video to grow your business with inbound marketing. Originally published Jul 25, 2009 11:37:00 AM, updated July 04 2013last_img read more

How Your Twitter Authority Affects Google’s Real-Time Search Results

first_img develop and build authority on Twitter Twitter power user some of the factors Google takes into consideration @GuyKawasaki 2. Reputation: .  And while Google’s real-time streams feature results from a variety of sources (news headlines, blogs, feeds from social sites like Twitter, etc.), there has been quite a focus on how Google will sift through all this clutter to deliver quality results, specifically from Twitter, which we all know has its share of spam and low-quality content. One way Google deems your tweet valuable is by the number of followers you have.  Therefore, tweets from a user with 1,000 followers will have more authority than tweets from a user with only 100 followers.  Google also takes into consideration the number of followers the people following you have.  So if you have a lot of followers who themselves don’t have large followings, Google won’t consider your tweet to have as much authority as one from someone whose followers also have a lot of followers. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack the good .  However, most of the standards Google is putting in place to determine high-quality tweets are also aimed at eliminating spammy content from showing up in real-time results.  For example, a spammer is less likely to have a large number of followers and is even more unlikely to have followers with authority, which is why Google stresses the importance of following and reputation.  will give you a leg up in generating more exposure for your tweets and, ultimately, the content you’re promoting.   It may be time to , stressing the increased importance of regularly producing remarkable content and the need to keep your website updated and fresh. Download the free webinar 1. Following: , Google’s new standards for delivering quality real-time results from Twitter should give you a nudge in the right direction. Google determines a Web page’s search ranking grading your Twitter account Webinar: Twitter for Marketing and PR the ugly If you’re still trying to understand the value of Because Google now weighs heavily on a users’ Twitter authority in determining their tweets’ worth for real-time results, it becomes even more important for marketers to rethink your use of hashtags (who has 205,000+ followers) is following you, your tweets will have more power. the bad and So what are allcenter_img when determining which tweets will show up in real-time search results? 3. Hashtags: tweets containing hashtags.  Hashtag use might be something to think about, but before we jump to any conclusions, it looks like we may need more concrete data from Google on how hashtags factor into the equation.     5. Spam: Spend some time building your following and making your tweets more keyword-rich in order to be picked up in Google’s real-time results for the search terms you’re looking to show up for.  In a nutshell, use Google’s new real-time feature as another opportunity to use Twitter to get found! Factors that Determine a Tweet’s Authority spammy results The Importance of Your Twitter Authority Originally published Jan 13, 2010 2:11:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 Twitter for marketing .  In an effort to reduce the likelihood of spammy content showing up in real-time results, Google says it will try to avoid showing tweets that include hashtags, as hashtags are known to attract spammy tweets.  However, this may not be a death sentence for hashtags altogether.  As is apparent from our screen shot above, it doesn’t look like Google is elminiating This brings us to the factor of reputation.  In the case of real-time results from Twitter, Google weighs heavily on the reputation of those following you.  To put it in simplest terms, the more followers you have with high authorities, the more likely Google will see you as an authority yourself.  So if someone like 4. Signals: .  Start out by One of the biggest concerns people have with Google’s new real-time feature is regarding to determine your strengths/weaknesses.  Being established as a * Note: These first two factors are similar to one way what Google’s real-time streaming search means for us marketing folks Topics: , In order to deliver the most timely and topical information in real-time results (especially for common search terms that yield tons of results regularly), Google looks for signals to determine the freshest content.  Google pays attention to news sites, blogs and tweets to determine the latest trending topics related to common search terms. for tips and tricks to drive inbound marketing using Twitter. Since Google rolled out the new feature, there has been a lot of chatter about , based on the idea of recommendations, where if a high-quality pages links to another page on the Web, the quality of the linked-to page increases. SEO and Social Media About a month ago, we examinedlast_img read more

4 SEO Tips to Instantly Take Advantage of Google Instant Preview

first_img Originally published Nov 11, 2010 8:00:00 AM, updated October 01 2013 Topics: The verdict is still out on how Google Instant is going to affect SEO, but after playing around with Google Instant Preview for a while, I’ve come up with a list of SEO tips that will help you stay ahead of the game and take advantage of the ever-evolving search landscape. Fine Tune That Meta DescriptionEven with Google Instant Preview the searcher still needs to click on the magnifying glass in order to see a preview of your site.  Clicking on the preview button is less of a commitment than clicking on a link, but you are still going to need to convince the searcher that it is worth their time to preview your website.  Having an interesting well defined value proposition that fits within the allotted 150 characters is going to give you the best shot at having someone preview your site and that is half the battle. Get Rid of That FlashIt is already known that Flash is bad for SEO because it can’t be crawled by the search engines, but Google Instant Preview gives us one more reason to scorn the use of the flashy multimedia platform.  Not only is Flash not crawled on the actual webpage, but the flash portions don’t render in the Google Instant Preview making the pages look awkward, ugly, and/or distorted.   Fix Those Header TagsUnless you have the eyesight of a Bald Eagle it’s unlikely that you are going to be able to read all of the text displayed in the Google Instant Preview.  You will, however, most likely be able to make out the larger text items displayed in the banner and the header tags.  Much like what search engines have already been doing, humans will now be using information found in the title and header tags to determine the structure of a page, it’s relevance, and whether or not it’s worthy of an actual click so be sure to portray this to the searcher through your use of header tags and page title.   Don’t Forget That Alt TextOne idea that most people seem to agree on is that now looks matter .  Because of this it is likely that we are going to see a lot more webpages with sharp graphics, pretty charts, and other visual aids used to grab a searcher’s attention.  This makes it even more important than ever that your images are showing up for keywords they are relevant for and that means making sure that their filenames and alt text are descriptive and accurate. Instant Preview definitely mixes up the search game yet again, but in the end, good SEO fundamentals are what is going to get you found on the search engine results pages. Images Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlacklast_img read more

5 Foolproof Ways to Generate Leads From Facebook

first_img Topics: networks, too. . We think that deserves a Facebook thumbs up in and of itself! . And the leads numbers only increase as fan size increases. Every new fan or “Like” you get increases your chances of spreading your content to more and more potential customers who could become leads. Make it easy for people to become a Facebook fan by adding ‘follow me’ buttons and links to your website pages. Consider recent HubSpot study their One problem with all of the above steps is that a Facebook user will ultimately have to leave Facebook and complete a conversion form on your website in order to become a lead. What if you could eliminate that middle step altogether and offer conversion opportunities from within Facebook without even making your fans leave? You’d probably increase your chances for conversion. For customers, HubSpot recently launched a While Facebook no longer allows you to add CTA buttons (or anything else, for that matter) to the sidebar of your Page’s main profile, it’s . The app enables users to easily convert new Likes of your Page into leads by presenting new visitors with a conversion form for an offer immediately after they click “Like.” For HubSpot’s own use of the app, the conversion numbers speak for themselves. , we found that the number of fans a company’s Facebook Page has correlates with the number of leads generated: Check out this guide for some simple how-to on setting up new tabs with iFrames h as an ebook or a webinar. Links to blog content can be Add the Facebook Like plugin within them using iFrames. Point these CTAs to your landing pages for downloadable content or other offers to start generating leads! ( What other tactics can you employ to generate more leads from Facebook? Tips for Generating Leads From Facebook still possible to add custom tabs with CTAs 2. Include call-to-action (CTA) buttons and text. lead generation holding a contest If you’re a B2B company with a Facebook presence but aren’t taking advantage of its potential for lead generation, here are five foolproof ways to start milking it for more of its worth. “Leads from Facebook?” you say? Darn right! The value of a business Facebook presence isn’t just limited to the opportunity to interact and engage with prospects, fans, and customers. In fact, Facebook can also be a valuable tool forcenter_img and ‘share on Facebook’ button to every piece of content you produce it to give it an extra boost of reach. First thing’s first: Are you at least giving your Facebook fans the opportunity to convert into leads? The simplest way to remedy this is to take the same content you’re using to gener Lead Generation 5. Make it difficult NOT to convert. direct links to landing pages are, but blog posts can help initiate lead generation, too. . Add the Facebook Like plugin & share buttons to content. In addition to sharing links to your content on the wall of your own Facebook Page, make it easy for others who are consuming your content to do the same and share it on their walls and with shared as well, but be sure each blog post you share also has a cal ate leads on your website and share links to that content on your Facebook Page’s wall. This works particularly well if the link directs people to a landing page with a lead generation form for downloadable content suc l-to-action to landing page with a conversion form so visitors can ultimately convert. Blog content isn’t as streamlined for lead generation as Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack 4 Businesses with 501 to 1,000 Facebook fans generated 4 times more leads than those with 1 to 25 fans HubSpot Welcome application for Facebook 3. Expand your reach. 1. Share links to content on your Page’s wall. Originally published Jun 17, 2011 8:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 .) or using other tactics to generate more Likes. Just like with any lead generation strategy for social media, reach is important. On Twitter, the more followers you have, the more people will see your content. The same holds true for Facebook. In alast_img read more

How to Generate More Customers With Fewer, Heartier Leads

first_img Lead Nurturing Originally published Dec 12, 2011 8:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 As an inbound marketer, you are probably driven by the number of leads you generate for your company. Usually, a small percentage of these leads convert into customers, so by logic, the more leads you produce, the more deals the sales team closes. In order to drive growth and generate more revenue for your company, you focus on increasing your leads goal month after month. But what happens when you start to saturate your market or it’s just not possible to hit your new goal with your current resources?Fear not! All you need to do is start focusing on the quality of your leads. The types of leads you feed to your sales team is a powerful yet overlooked lever that can help marketers deliver. Think about it: if you can increase the percentage of leads that convert into customers, then you don’t need to generate as many leads to hit your company’s sales goals, right? The key to increasing the percentage of conversions is by feeding your sales team higher quality, more nutritious “wheat bread” leads, rather than low-quality, less nourishing “white bread” leads. Below are 4 steps to take to better feed Sales with these more wholesome, multi-grain-type leads to close more deals with fewer leads.1. Create Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) ContentThe first step to turning white bread leads into high quality wheat bread leads is through lead nurturing. Once you’ve initially generated your leads, it’s important to nurture them with content and offers to guide them closer to a purchase. Creating middle of the funnel content will help you achieve just this. Middle of the funnel content is specific and ties in information about your industry to your product. An example of this may be an ebook that discusses how you use your product to overcome an industry-related challenge or even an offer such as a demo that brings your lead closer to a sale.Often, we inbound marketers forget to produce middle of the funnel content since we are so focused on generating new leads through top of the funnel content that is mainly educational in nature and avoids mentions of our business’ products and services. The key here is to aim for a balanced diet. You need to start by generating white bread leads with top of the funnel offers and then use your middle of the funnel offers to turn them into hearty loaves of wheat bread!2. Determine Which Events Close the Most CustomersOnce you’ve created middle of the funnel content, you can start looking at which offers and events are converting more of your leads into customers. If you have closed-loop marketing in place, you can use your data to actually analyze the close rate of your current customers based on offers and events. Typically, events such as free trials or live demos have higher close rates, as these are leads serious about a sale. It’s important to recognize these events and offers, since they generate awesome, wholesome leads. Once you start gathering insights into which offers are more effective at generating wheat bread leads, you can double down on the offers that works and nix the ones that don’t.3. Create Calls-to-Action Promoting High Closing EventsOnce you’ve determined the events and offers that convert the highest percentages of high-quality leads, you need to promote these events. A great way to promote an offer or an event, such as a demo, is through calls-to-action (CTAs). Think about placing CTAs in your email messages, on landing page thank-you pages, in blog posts, on website pages, and most importantly, on your homepage. Make these CTAs prominently accessible from all parts of your marketing communications. You want to give potential leads the opportunity to convert into nutritious leads as often as possible.  4. Communicate and Collaborate With Your Sales Team to Focus on Specific LeadsNow that you’ve set up your marketing machine to generate nutritious, multi-grain leads, sales won’t need as many of those white bread leads to hit their numbers. The last and most important step is to collaborate with your sales team to make sure they identify and focus on working these hearty leads. Be sure to communicate the shift in the quality of these new leads so sales can alter their selling process. As a result of this shift, sales won’t need to waste their time sifting through piles of unqualified leads, but instead work a limited number of qualified leads more deeply to hit their sales number more efficiently.Do your marketing offers include a healthy mix of white bread and multi-grain leads? Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics:last_img read more

7 Types of Email Addresses to Delete From Your List NOW!

first_img Email Lists and Segmentation Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Originally published Jan 16, 2012 4:30:00 PM, updated August 26 2017 The average email list depreciates by 25% every year according to MarketingSherpa. Smart email marketers are actively involved with that depreciation. But why would you want to contribute to the depreciation of your email marketing list?Because by regularly scrubbing your email list, you are removing irrelevant leads and contacts that could be harmful to your email marketing success. List cleaning decreases instances of unsubscribes and recipients marking you as SPAM; it helps you better segment your emails and increase content relevancy; it improves your deliverability and sender reputation; it improves your email open rates; it saves you money if you’re charged on a per-send basis; it makes you look like a marketing superstar when your email metrics improve; and most importantly, it keeps you legally compliant.Now that you’re undoubtedly convinced of the importance of keeping your email list clean, how do you do it? Keep reading for the breakdown of all the email addresses you should look for and remove during an email list scrub, and instructions to keep it clean after you have your new, sparkly clean list.The Email Addresses To Scrub From Your Email Marketing List1.) Duplicate and Invalid Email Addresses: Make sure your CRM is deduplicating all list subscribers; email is the best record to use for dedupe since it is unique. Every email address should be checked to confirm that it is a real, working email address during the deduplication process.2.) Unsubscribes: If someone unsubscribes, they must come off your email list. It’s the law!3.) Contacts Who Didn’t Opt In: Whether you’re replacing a less than scrupulous marketing manager or you’ve just learned about the error of your sketchy email marketing ways, anyone who is on your list because of list buying, list scraping, or any other illegal or legal-ish email address collection method should be removed. This will not only help keep you out of the clinker, it will help improve your sender reputation, email deliverability, and open and click through rates.4.) Alias Email Addresses: Alias addresses are things like support@company.com or team@company.com. Many ESPs don’t deliver emails to these types of addresses successfully because not all of the email addresses associated with the alias have opted in to receive communication from you. And chances are, not all of them want to, either.5.) Bouncing Email Addresses: There are two types of bounces to consider when scrubbing emails that bounce: Hard bounces, and soft bounces. If someone is bouncing for a permanent reason, like an invalid or blocked email address, they’re a hard bounce that should be removed from your list. But if they are bouncing for a temporary reason, like an autoresponder or a full mailbox, they are a soft bounce who should remain on your list. Soft bounces should, however, continue to be monitored. If their bounce rate does not decrease, they should be removed from your list because their email address is likely inactive.6.) Disengaged Email Recipients: If someone has stopped opening or clicking through your emails, they shouldn’t be scrubbed from your list immediately. But they should be part of a re-engagement campaign that asks them for feedback, gives them the opportunity to change their opt-in settings, and lets you work to better tailor your email marketing to their interests and needs. If after your re-engagement attempts some recipients are still disengaged subscribers, it’s to your benefit to proactively remove them from your list before they mark you as SPAM and damage your sender reputation.7.) Some of Your Old Email Contacts: The older the email address, the more likely they are to be a good candidate for removal; the email address could be abandoned, or the recipient could have lost interest in your product or service. But you don’t want to nix some of your oldest, most loyal email subscribers, either. So how do you tell the difference?Segment your list based on age of subscription, and monitor the open rates, click through rates, unsubscribe rates, and bounce rates of your older lists as compared to your new lists. The contacts on your old list who have similar performance metrics as those on your new list are active, and should not be removed. But those email addresses that appear to be abandoned, giving complaints of SPAM, or who are bouncing have either changed email addresses, or are probably disinterested in your product or service. Remove those who are bouncing or marking you as SPAM, and enter the disinterested recipients into a reegnagement campaign. If the results are dismal, say goodbye.How To Keep Your Email List Clean1.) Provide Clear Unsubscribe Instructions: You must provide email recipients with the option to unsubscribe in every email, and you should make that option very clear in the footer of your email. Use straightforward anchor text, like “Unsubscribe from these emails,” so your subscribers aren’t confused about their options, and make the process easy and expeditious when they get to your landing page.2.) Let Subscribers Edit Their Email Settings: When your email recipients click through to unsubscribe, also offer them the opportunity to edit their email settings. Refining the frequency of email send and the topics about which they can be emailed may save you an unsubscribe. Even if recipients don’t want to unsubscribe, you should include a link to this page in the footer of every email you send for greater personalization, and by extension happier email subscribers.3.) Only Acquire Email Subscribers on the Up and Up: Once you’ve scrubbed out any ill-gotten email addresses, be sure to only collect email addresses to best practices. Use remarkable content and optimized landing pages to generate leads, and use double opt-in to keep your sender reputation safe.4.) Send a Welcome Email to all New Subscribers: As part of your double opt-in process, send a welcome email to all new subscribers asking them to confirm their subscription, add you as a safe sender, and customize their email settings. Letting subscribers choose their ideal frequency of communications and the topics about which you’ll email them ensures you’re communicating in the manner they most prefer, tempering the chances you’ll end up in someone’s spam folder, their trash can, or worse, marked as a spammer by a forgetful or annoyed subscriber.5.) Send Re-engagement Emails: When subscribers stop opening and clicking through your emails, you have a relevancy problem. Send re-engagement emails that ask them for feedback on what topics are most interesting to them so you can better customize the content you send their way.6.) Segment really, really well: Segmenting your email list is crucial to maintaining a clean list, because it ensures you’re sending only the most relevant emails to your subscribers. As soon as you start email blasting without consideration for what recipients care about, you lose all credibility. Keep collecting lead intelligence and refining your communications as you get to know your subscribers, and target your emails based on their behaviors and actions both on and off your website.When’s the last time you scrubbed your email list? Are there any other types of email addresses you look to remove when cleaning your email list?Image credit: barklast_img read more