Google Places pages replaced

Google Places pages have been entirely replaced by new Google+ Local pages. As of this morning roughly 80 million Google Place pages worldwide have been automatically converted into 80 million Google+ Local pages, according to Google’s Marissa Mayer. It’s a dramatic change (for the better) though it will undoubtedly disorient some users and business owners.

Twitter Guide

Due to popular demand, Marketing is making most of its “Very Necessary Twitter Guide For Canadian Marketers” available for download.
This version of the editorial package features five pages of exclusive content with socially savvy subject-matter experts such as Jason Sweeney (@sween), Mitch Joel (@mitchjoel), Amber MacArthur (@ambermac) and Ed Lee (@edlee), as well as a straight-forward-but-essential Dos and Don’ts list.
Download “The Very Necessary Twitter Guide for Canadian Marketers” here.

Twitter were a real-life party, the average Canadian marketerwould be the one standing alone in the corner. He’s often thefirst one to arrive to stake out his position in the crowd. Buthe’s not quite sure what to do while he’s there. Should he waitfor someone to talk to him? Or should he strike up a conversationwith other partygoers? Should he carefully listen to whatpeople are saying and interject when the timing’s right?Some of the other guests wonder why he bothers showingup if he isn’t there to socialize. But it always seems like a goodidea at the time, because he’d rather be there doing nothing,than on the outside looking in.When it comes to the adoption of a new platform or technology,Canadian marketers are often there—like with Twitter.But five years after the site first hit the scene, marketers arestill standing in the corner. Some companies don’t know whatto do with it, how often to use it, how to respond to mentions,how often to respond to mentions, or who should even run the corporateTwitter account.When it comes down to it, Canadian businesses are not utilizingsocial media resources to engage their customers to the extentthat they could, or should. A new survey by SAS Canada and LegerMarketing conducted in January 2011 found that less than one-fifth(17%) of Canadian companies regularly monitor and post to socialmedia sites.“You have to have a strategy in place and you have to understand[how to navigate this space],” says Donna Marie Antoniadis, co-founderand CEO of ShesConnected Multimedia Corp, a Toronto-based agencythat provides online community management services for brands andagencies looking to target the female consumer.Canadian companies are still trying to get comfortable with Twitterand understand that it can do everything from build a brand to providecustomer service—all in 140 characters or less. Within the frameworkof brand guidelines, Twitter offers a great opportunity to have botha “consistent and fluid brand experience, tailored to the consumers’questions, thoughts or opinions,” says Maggie Fox, founder of SocialMedia Group.So why aren’t Canadian companies better at Twitter? What hasthem running scared?Mitch Joel, president of Twist Image, says brands are still learninghow to deal with consumers one-on-one in a very public way. Twitteris a volatile barometer of public sentiment and many companies don’tnecessarily want to discuss every issue in that environment. In thepast, dissatisfied customers would call a customer service line anddeal with the company directly, and privately.If a company was dealing with a crisis management issue, the mediarelations team or legal department were put on damage control. Theissue was addressed by way of a press release or an official statement.Either way, the company had more control over what print or broadcastmedia outlets were saying.“Companies have never interacted with consumers this way andso what you’re seeing is companies reacting almost as if their peopleare media entities,” he says.Joel suggests looking at it from the perspective of a consumerpackaged goods company that until recently dealt only with retailers.Interacting with consumers forces a company to act and behavedifferently.“Suddenly in this channel a lot of brands that have never had thisinteraction have to deal with their consumers… It creates a new cultureand DNA within an organization.”Because of the immediacy of Twitter, it does tend to see a lot ofknee-jerk reactions and content from consumers, says Ed Lee, socialmedia director at Tribal DDB. “Organizations have to make a decisionhow they want to deal with these reactions or if they want to lead theconversation around their brand.”It’s important to have a Twitter plan in place. Know your objectivesand strategy and, more importantly, how they fit in with the businessobjectives and culture, says Lee. If it’s appropriate, “give youremployees permission to engage on Twitter without constrainingthem too heavily,” he says.Twitter offers the opportunity to be both proactive and reactive—“sharing the human side of who you are and what you do with outboundmessaging and news, as well as responding to inquiries in a way thatconsistently embodies your brand,” says Fox.But give your brand a voice. “If it’s appropriate, give your employeespermission to engage on Twitter without constraining them tooheavily,” says Lee. “They are your people, they epitomize your brandand can be your greatest salespeople.”And one more tip: keep reading.

Blog moved into the Google servers

The move to Google’s storage for blog content is not what is best for me. However it is what is best for Google. The choice is to comply or leave. In this case, I will comply. Since I don’t use any of their Google toys, I don’t see the benefit. Maybe I will make the time to play with their stuff and look for some benefits to this switch.

Boomers Mix TV with Their PCs – eMarketer

Boomers Mix TV with Their PCs – eMarketer
My friend DS was telling me yesterday that the first thing he and his wife do when then get home after work, is pet the cat, and then open their laptops. They check their e-mail and surf the web. They put the TV on as background noise.
In our house, we are not quite boomers. We do have a computer connected to the web at all times. It’s handy for looking up websites referenced from TV. Not just websites mentionned in commercials. Almost every talk show has a guest plugging something which has a website for more information.

You’ve got to be boisterous to get results

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay has built a reality-television empire with his abrasive style, ready arsenal of barbed insults and propensity for four-letter words. It all adds up to great television. But in the case of Kitchen Nightmares, which focuses on Ramsay’s attempts to save failing restaurants, the entertainment is also packed with entrepreneurial insight.

“I like the show,” says Janine Popick at the Vertical Response blog, “because he gets down into the inner workings of a small business and peels away the onion to find any issues that might be hampering the business from growing.”

She finds six business lessons in the story arc of each episode. Here are some:

Ramsay starts with an honest assessment of the situation. You cannot fix something until you know what’s wrong, and he always begins by observing a typical lunch or dinner service. Most are, predictably, disastrous. “He also takes to the streets,” notes Popick. “In many shows he walks the streets of the town to observe other restaurants and he’ll stop people and ask what they think about the restaurant he’s trying to help.”

He then identifies, and tries to rectify, fundamental problems. A strong business is built on a strong foundation. Disturbingly, almost all of the restaurants on Kitchen Nightmares share one failure in common: filthy kitchens that must be cleaned before anything else can happen. Beyond that, Ramsay addresses the unique mix of issues challenging each restaurant—everything from poor leadership to overambitious menus to subpar chefs.

Whatever you think of Gordon Ramsay, you just might benefit from his simple formula for jumpstarting a struggling business.
Source: Vertical Response. Click here for the full post.

‘Do It Yourself’ part of your website

I presented a seminar topic on web content to delegates of the annual OAAS convention last Friday. Posted here is a copy of the PowerPoint. (which I will apologize for as it is a little dry).

Content can be the ‘Do It Yourself’ part of your website. Unlike the other aspects where hiring a professional is recommended, content is very DIY, and therefore less costly than other forms of website development. The real cost of content is the time you have to put into it to be successful.

Over the next few days I’ll answer some of the questions which were asked at the seminar. Some relate to web content, other questions are simply general web development issues.

  • How much does it cost to have a website built?
  • Where are the cheapest hosts?
  • What is the relationship between images and text?
  • How important is content on the home page?

Cost cutting measures are being considered all throughout any business that is looking to pull through these economic times. Some might be looking at IT as a place to cut costs, but if your critical communications tools like email and telephony, aren’t reliable and interrupt your operations, the results can dramatically damage your financial outlook! There is a compelling business need for investment in robust email communication now more than ever. This is not the time to lose focus on the survivability of critical communication gateways. Recession amplifies the cost and consequences of business interruptions – to recover from disaster or an unplanned outage means consuming budget and time that companies can no longer afford.

Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your prospects and customers can make a difference in your future prosperity.

I’ll be speaking at the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies annual convention at the Royal York hotel on Friday. My topic is “content and how it is important to your fair or festival”.

Final Virus Termination

It appears as though I’ve finally removed the holiday virus from my PC. This post doesn’t have much to do with web marketing except that if I didn’t have a working computer, there wouldn’t be much of anything web from me.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is the best removal tool for this type of infection. If you’ve got malware, here’s how to get rid of it.

Please download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and save it to your desktop.alternate download link 1alternate download link 2
Make sure you are connected to the Internet.
Double-click on Download_mbam-setup.exe to install the application.
When the installation begins, follow the prompts and do not make any changes to default settings.
When installation has finished, make sure you leave both of these checked:
Update Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware
Launch Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware
Then click Finish.
MBAM will automatically start and you will be asked to update the program before performing a scan. If an update is found, the program will automatically update itself. Press the OK button to close that box and continue. If you encounter any problems while downloading the updates, manually download them from here and just double-click on mbam-rules.exe to install.
On the Scanner tab:
Make sure the “Perform Quick Scan” option is selected.
Then click on the Scan button.
If asked to select the drives to scan, leave all the drives selected and click on the Start Scan button.
The scan will begin and “Scan in progress” will show at the top. It may take some time to complete so please be patient.
When the scan is finished, a message box will say “The scan completed successfully. Click ‘Show Results’ to display all objects found”.
Click OK to close the message box and continue with the removal process.
Back at the main Scanner screen, click on the Show Results button to see a list of any malware that was found.
Make sure that everything is checked, and click Remove Selected.
When removal is completed, a log report will open in Notepad and you may be prompted to restart your computer. (see Note below)
The log is automatically saved and can be viewed by clicking the Logs tab in MBAM.
Note: If MBAM encounters a file that is difficult to remove, you will be presented with 1 of 2 prompts. Click OK to either and let MBAM proceed with the disinfection process. If asked to restart the computer, please do so immediately. Failure to reboot will prevent MBAM from removing all the malware.

Even the Webguy Gets a Virus

Over the holidays, my personal computer recieved an anwanted gift. I picked up a Trojan virus. It is completely my fault. It was a very difficult virus to remove. I want to give a shout out to my new friend Buckeye_Sam over at He had some excellent advice that I will pass along here.

Here are some simple steps in order to keep your computer clean and secure:

1. Make your Internet Explorer more secure – This can be done by following these simple instructions:
Make your Internet Explorer more secure – This can be done by following these simple instructions:

  1. From within Internet Explorer click on the Tools menu and then click on Options.
  2. Click once on the Security tab
  3. Click once on the Internet icon so it becomes highlighted.
  4. Click once on the Custom Level button.
    1. Change the Download signed ActiveX controls to Prompt
    2. Change the Download unsigned ActiveX controls to Disable
    3. Change the Initialize and script ActiveX controls not marked as safe to Disable
    4. Change the Installation of desktop items to Prompt
    5. Change the Launching programs and files in an IFRAME to Prompt
    6. Change the Navigate sub-frames across different domains to Prompt
    7. When all these settings have been made, click on the OK button.

2. Use an AntiVirus Software – It is very important that your computer has an anti-virus software running on your machine. This alone can save you a lot of trouble with malware in the future. See this link for a listing of some online & their stand-alone antivirus programs:Virus, Spyware, and Malware Protection and Removal Resources

3. Update your AntiVirus Software – It is imperitive that you update your Antivirus software at least once a week (Even more if you wish). If you do not update your antivirus software then it will not be able to catch any of the new variants that may come out.

4. Use a Firewall – I can not stress how important it is that you use a Firewall on your computer. Without a firewall your computer is succeptible to being hacked and taken over. I am very serious about this and see it happen almost every day with my clients. Simply using a Firewall in its default configuration can lower your risk greatly.For a tutorial on Firewalls and a listing of some available ones see the link below:Understanding and Using Firewalls

5. Visit Microsoft’s Windows Update Site Frequently – It is important that you visit regularly. This will ensure your computer has always the latest security updates available installed on your computer. If there are new updates to install, install them immediately, reboot your computer, and revisit the site until there are no more critical updates.

6. Install Spybot – Search and Destroy – Install and download Spybot – Search and Destroy with its TeaTimer option. This will provide realtime spyware & hijacker protection on your computer alongside your virus protection. You should also scan your computer with program on a regular basis just as you would an antivirus software. A tutorial on installing & using this product can be found here:Using Spybot – Search & Destroy to remove Spyware , Malware, and Hijackers

7. Install Ad-Aware – Install and download Ad-Aware. ou should also scan your computer with program on a regular basis just as you would an antivirus software in conjunction with Spybot.A tutorial on installing & using this product can be found here:Using Ad-aware to remove Spyware, Malware, & Hijackers from Your Computer

8. Install SpywareBlaster – SpywareBlaster will added a large list of programs and sites into your Internet Explorer settings that will protect you from running and downloading known malicious programs.A tutorial on installing & using this product can be found here:Using SpywareBlaster to protect your computer from Spyware and Malware

9. Update all these programs regularly – Make sure you update all the programs I have listed regularly. Without regular updates you WILL NOT be protected when new malicious programs are released.

Thanks again Buckeye_Sam and the folks at