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Trivera turns 21!

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Having been in business 21 years has allowed us to celebrate several birthdays with a look back at how far we've come. But 21 is symbolic of the entry into of adulthood and typically marks the beginning of a new level of maturity and accountability. And so, we're using this milestone to look forward.

The year ahead will be marked by the successful transformation of the ideal Trivera client relationships, as they evolve from exclusively website-based project work to deeper, more strategic ongoing digital marketing partnerships. That change began last year with the addition of new team members with skill sets in branding, integrated digital and inbound marketing strategies. It has continued with the development of a new, transformational 12 month process, one that begins with brand discovery and strategy development, and continues with tactical plans to strengthen every aspect of our clients' digital marketing efforts with constant monitoring, analysis and improvement. That new process is appropriately named "Evolve."

In addition to the new process, we've also deepened the strengths we've been known for for the past 21 years. Trivera's team now has greater depth in the areas of organic SEO, PPC and Social Media. We've also added Magento and Concrete5 certification to our credentials to back up our significant experience developing websites in both platforms.

While we're growing by addition, we are also maturing by subtraction. Over the next year, we'll be continuing our efforts to transition much of our hosting operation from our own data center to fully managed third party operations that specialize in Magento and Concrete5 hosting and 24/7 support. That effort will allow us to focus our own internal resources on the quality and management of the sites and applications we've developed, and less on the equipment, environment and security necessary for their operation.

Our client list will also continue its shift from smaller limited "website-only" engagements to one of fewer, but larger, deeper, long term ones that take advantage of all Trivera has to offer.

Watch for our own new trivera.com website to launch in February. The site will communicate our new direction and highlight more of our new client success stories while still preserving the archival information resources we've developed over decades of digital marketing leadership.

Over the past 21 years, how we've used the internet to support our businesses and organizations has evolved. What was once referred to as "Cyberspace," "the world wide web," the "CB radio of the 90's," the "information superhighway," the "dotcom boom"...and crash...the "new economy," have all evolved to become simply an integral part of every person's...and every business'...daily life. We're proud that we've been able to evolve with it and help hundreds of businesses leverage the power of digital marketing we knew existed when we opened for business on January 16, 1996.

About Tom Snyder

Tom Snyder - TriveraTom Snyder, founder, president and CEO of Trivera, a 20 year old strategic digital marketing firm, with offices in suburban Milwaukee.  Tom has been blogging since 1998, sharing the insight gained from helping businesses and organizations re-inforce their brands by taking full advantage of digital and Web technology as powerful tactics in their marketing and communications strategy.

 

Do Donald Trump and Bill Penzey Have Something in Common?

By Tom Snyder, President/CEO

“Never discuss religion or politics.”

Great advice for keeping the peace at family gatherings and a generally accepted principle for most corporate social media marketing plans.

Is it ever safe to break that rule?

An important component to your brand is its differentiator – that thing that makes you different from your competition. That differentiator could very well be your stand on a controversial political issue.

Consider this year’s presidential race, in which each candidate took a political stance and drove it hard on social media, with no concern about offending those who disagreed. The goal was not to appeal to everyone. It was to build passion and create loyalty among an audience just large enough for the candidate to win.

Campaigns and cause-based organizations succeed only by effectively using social media to communicate a political agenda or ideology.

But what about a commercial business?

Business owners like Penzeys Spices chief executive officer Bill Penzey, Jr., and Hobby Lobby CEO David Green have taken controversial positions on hot-button political issues and have leveraged social media to establish those positions as their differentiator. The social echo chamber brings out and amplifies the voices of legions of people who disagree with their positions and threaten to boycott, as well as others who praise them and promise to support them. In both cases, measurement is demonstrating the success of each strategy.

If your potential market is large enough that you can do well with portions of that market being offended or inspired by your discussion of religion or politics, do the research before you begin, and constantly measure while you’re doing it. Strategically breaking that long-held rule can be a key to your success.

This article originally appeared in the BizTimes.com Social Media Strategies Column, in January, 2017

Back To School! What Our Clients Learned About Digital Marketing Last Year!

by Jamie Rinehart,  Digital Marketing Strategist

backtoschool.jpgEvery morning I walk my Boxer, Bella, before work. Any season, any weather. I particularly relish the Summer walks for the obvious reasons, it's light and warm outside. Thus the past several months have been amazing! Yesterday, as I set out on my morning jaunt, I noticed a slight change in the air, a little fall bite. As I continued, my senses now keen to seasonal changes, I observed some other signs of fall; a stray orange leaf or two on the ground and the sun was taking its sweet time to peek it's face over Lake Michigan in the east. Then, I was smacked in the face with reality, as I saw a big yellow school bus rolling down the road.

FALL IS COMING! BACK TO SCHOOL!

Overcome with the nostalgia of back-to-school, I started thinking about how Digital Marketing and Web Development is a constant cycle of learning. Team Trivera and our clients are always striving to stay cutting edge. Whether we are getting a Digital Marketing Certificate from UWM, completing a Master's Degree or gaining the latest Google certifications, we are always learning and sharing that knowledge with clients.
Now, completely in the Back-to-school spirit, I asked some of our clients what THEY have learned about Digital marketing in the past year! Here is what they shared!

Bill McCormick - Natural Look Salon and Wigs

"As a sales and marketing professional with 25 years' experience, I've used traditional marketing venues such as brochures, trade publications, trade shows and newsletters to communicate to our customers or potential customers. Prior to our meeting with the Trivera team I viewed the idea of having a website about the same as having to have a sign outside our building. In other words I felt it was a necessary part of doing business, however I did not put much thought into how the website can be used to bring in new customers.
The Trivera team has opened our eyes to the digital marketing world. They have shown us how important it is to set up and structure our website to optimize our marketing efforts through the search engines of Google, Bing and others. We are excited about the aspects of SEO and what it can do for our business in attracting new customers to our store front and e-commerce business."


Erik Bergstrom - Dental Associates

"This photo was in a case study I presented at the Mayo Clinic Social Media Network member meeting this summer. It shows a parking spot in the deck Dental Associates uses in downtown Milwaukee. I walked by this parking space one day and laughed at how many times they have altered the parking configuration. Then I thought to myself, "that reminds me of the typical social media strategy over the past decade!" Start in one direction, completely pivot to another direction, move back toward the original direction, then settle for something in the middle.

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While I was speaking about social strategy at the time, it really applies to any aspect of digital marketing. Change is constant, and you must be willing to adapt and innovate if you want to continue to succeed."


Haley Kloss - Rogers Behavioral Health

"In the past year as de facto database admin, I've been working on using data to really segment our email campaigns. When we can determine the nature of a client's relationship with our brand, we can make sure they are getting content they want. We've seen success when we make our messages more and more tailored.

I think the next step in this is going to be working on what kind of content we're putting out in our email campaigns. We certainly know what we want to tell people: new programs opening, this great thing one of our docs did, etc. But that's not necessarily what people care about. Relevant content is important. I feel like a lot of people forget that, especially in digital channels. It's easy to feel like we did our work because we sent an email, put it on social, posted it on the web. But, there are still times where the metrics say our message is falling flat. So, something for us to work on for the next year!"
 

This Fall as the weather changes, leaves fall and school busses fill the roads, get "back-to-school" and learn something new about Digital Marketing!

About Jamie Rinehart

Jamie Rinehart

Jamie leverages his 10+ years of Digital Marketing and Advertising account management experience to help new Trivera clients develop strategic digital marketing plans that will help them acheive their business and brand goals.

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock 

3 Reasons Your Social Media Efforts are Failing

Social MediaThere are no guarantees that Social Media will succeed for your business or organization. However if it’s not delivering the results you had hoped for, here are 3 possible reasons why:

1.) You don’t have a strategy – Chinese general Sun Tzu is credited with the axiom “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”  Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the others are all just tactics. Without a solid strategy that defines your brand, target, goals and voice, it’s impossible to determine the platforms and communities where your audience is, and ones in which they would expect you to be, or what to do once you begin. Unless you have a strategy to help you evaluate whether the next rising social network is a real opportunity, or just the next shiny object, you are almost certain to fail.

2.) You aren’t committed to do what it takes – Unless one of your posts becomes the next viral sensation on Mashable, your path to measurable impact will be a long one. Building fans, followers and reputation requires a presence that keeps you top of mind with your target audience. Without frequency, rotation, valuable content, timely interaction, and immediate response over an extended period of time your efforts will likely fail.

3.) You rely on Social Media as a silver bullet – Even a “successful” return from Social Media efforts can be a failure if you’re cutting other, more profitable marketing efforts in hopes of Twitter or Facebook becoming your panacea. Strategic consideration of new vehicles and measuring their success of each against all your efforts will enable you to do what works and discard what doesn’t.  If your website, email marketing, search engine optimization, pay per click, and traditional marketing efforts are producing more return on your investment than Social Media, continuing to use it at their expense could result in the biggest Social Media failure of all. 

This article originally appeared in the BizTimes.com Social Media Strategies Column, in August, 2015

Trivera's Tom Snyder to Speak at 2014 BizExpo

tom-snyder1.jpgOn May 21, 2104, hundreds of Milwaukee area business owners and professionals will descend upon Potawatomi Bingo Casino to learn about the latest trends and best practices at the BizExpo, presented by BizTimes Media.  The event consists of dozens of booths, several award events and an impressive list of  seminars led by some of the area's most knowledgeable business leaders and experts.

Among them are Trivera President and CEO Tom Snyder who will be presenting  "The 5 Digital Marketing Mistakes You're Probably Making." at 2:45 in seminar Room C.  

In the 18 years he's been in the digital marketing field, Tom has watched thousands of owners, agencies and marketers struggle to figure out how to use web technology to help their businesses. As the parade of almost universally misunderstood shiny objects...websites, email marketing, search engine optimization, Social Media and mobile...marched on, he has seen a lot of those businesses succeed, but he's seen even more fail. Ultimately, the challenge is effectively integrating proven marketing tactics with the newest technologies. Tom will identify five of the most common digital marketing mistakes most businesses and organizations make, why those mistakes are preventing them from acheving the results they’re looking for, and what they should be doing instead. 

The session will also help them avoid a sixth digital marketing mistake they're also probably making by encouraging them to attend Trivera's upcoming Social Media University - Milwaukee on June 11th, also being held at Potawatomi Bingo Casino.

Admission to the event and all sessions is free, but requires pre-registration.

Date Set for Social Media University 2014

SMUM2014-logo.jpgIn the summer of 2009, Trivera produced Social Media University, the very first conference of its kind in Milwaukee. Nearly 400 marketers, business owners and agencies gathered at the Italian  Conference Center to learn about this potentially powerful, but still relatively unknown marketing vehicle. Now 5 years later, experience has replaced theory, and reality has eclipsed the optimism. Still a leading authority on Social Media, Trivera presents another daylong event on June 11, 2014 to educate and inspire the market about the importance of all aspect s of social media in your marketing and business strategy.

DSC_6725.JPGThis year's event will be held at Potawatomi's Woodland Dreams Ballroom and Expo Center on 17th and Canal St.  Centrally located, the facility provides easy access, more room, and free parking for attendees.

Just like last event, the focus will be on providing you with practical hands-on knowledge from experts who are in the trenches helping real businesses and organizations just like yours, to successfully use Social Media as a marketing and business tool with the insight of 5 years of hands on experience  Several speakers have already been confirmed on a wide array of topics:

  • Tom Snyder (President, CEO, Trivera) - Social Media 5 Years Later - Strategy is Still The Key
  • Christina Steder (President, Clear Verve Marketing) - Integrating Traditional and Social Media, Not Only Possible but Necessary
  • Wayne Breitbarth (Author) -  LinkedIn, your B2B Social Media Secret Weapon
  • Christopher Graham (Digital Media Specialist, Potawatomi Bingo Casino) - Managing and Measuring Your Social Media Efforts
  • Paul Stillmank (President and CEO, 7 Summits) - Business Benefits of Building Internal and External Online Communities
  • Michelle D'Attilio and Jeanette Pham (Sosh) - Creating and Maintaining a Social Media Editorial Calendar
  • Chris Remington (VP Business Development and Client Strategies, Trivera) - Keeping Your Website Relevant in a Social Media World
  • Katie Fleming and Cory Ampe (Trivera) - How Social Media impacts Your Position in the Search Engines


Other sessions will include the latest techniques to help you understand and leverage Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, YouTube and Pinterest (presenters to be announced).

DSC_6857.JPGA panel discussion will reunite members from  the  similar panel of  five years ago and add a few others to share the secrets to the successes they have achieved as Social Media...and their business paths...have evolved over the last 5 years. Panel members include: Joe Woelfle (Blatz Liquor, now State Farm Insurance), Joe Sorge (Founder of AJ Bombers and now President  of -  Hospitality Democracy), Scott Baitinger (Founder of Streetza Pizza, now CMO at Verlo Mattress Factory Stores), and Leslie Rivers (Marketing Associate- Milwaukee Ballet).

Rounding out the day will be an afternoon keynote from a digital strategist from a brand you know and trust ( to be announced shortly).

A variety of exhibitors will have booths to showcase their products and services. And the day will be capped off by a networking reception with cash bar.

DSC_0855.JPGTickets are $139, ($129 if 3 or more from the same company register at the same time) and include continental breakfast, lunch, snacks and beverages. Because some speakers are yet to be announced, we're offering early bird registration tickets at $119 each till March 31st. Register at SocialMediaMilwaukee.com

The first Social Media University Milwaukee sold out. Buy your tickets early to reserve your spot. Don't miss out! Follow @GoSMUM on Twitter, or find Social Media Unversity - Milwaukee on Facebook.

Trivera Turns 18!

happy18thbirthday.jpgRegardless of our age, we all celebrate our birthdays every year. But, there are a few birthdays that mark milestones.  Sweet 16 marks a passage to the age where one can drive a car. 21 is when one is legally allowed to consume alcohol. 30, 40 and 50 are often marked with black balloons and taunts of being over the hill. I'm facing...gasp...my big 6-0 in February (or as I've chosen to call it, my second 30th birthday), but I digress.

One of the most special birthdays is the 18th. It marks the passage from youth to adulthood. You're reckoned by society as wise and mature enough to vote, get married without parental consent, and serve your country in the military. 

Today, Trivera celebrates our 18th birthday.  Back on January 16th, 1996, we became one of the very first...and one of only a handful of...web design and development agencies in Wisconsin.

At the time, Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Safari didn't exist, just Mosaic and Firefox's predecessor Netscape. There was neither a Google nor a Bing  - the top search engines were Alta Vista, Excite, Lycos, Webcrawler and Infoseek. There was no eBay, Netflix or Wikipedia.  Joomla!, Drupal, Wordpress and Concrete5 were all years from being born. Email marketing and Social Media didn't exist. Nor did Digg, Tumblr or even RSS. Smartphones, mobile devices, tablets, iPhones and iPads hadn't been invented. Pinterest, Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or even MySpace? Not even on the drawing board! There was no broadband or wifi - internet connections came via a slow dial-up modem.  And 87% of all businesses polled in a survey said that the web was a fad, and they would never have a need for it. Ever. 

Our name back then was Websight Solutions, and our tagline was "web sites with vision." Fitting because back then, anyone who was doing anything on the web had to be visionary. Jeff Bezos had just started Amazon.com. Jerry Yang and David Filo had just incorporated Yahoo!. Craig Newmark had just launched Craig's List.

And there was us.

But we convinced Usinger's, Mitchell Airport, and FrankMayer and Associates to take their first leap onto the web. In those early years, our other early adopters inlcuded Aurora and Ministry Health Care, Holy Hill, the Marcus Center, Milwaukee Harley-Davidson and Mustela. Since then, we've been proud to have also helped other noteworthy locally-based brands like Potawatomi Bingo Casino, Strattec Security Corporation, Simplicity, Perlick and Dental Associates, as well as national brands like Motorola, Lotus, Frabill, and Panasonic.  We just started working on Frank Mayer and Associates' 43rd project, and are just wrapping up Mitchell Airport's 30th. In a few weeks, InvestorsBank becomes the most recent member of the Trivera story with the launch of their new site

Despite the fact that over 18 years we've seen the web go from infancy to youthful exuberance and on to a mature and necessary component of every business' marketing arsenal, for most marketers, how to make it work is still is a mystery. So we've been honored to have hundreds of other clients ask us to help them figure it out. Some big,  some small, some household names, others obscure to all but their niche customers.  But the one thing they all have in common is that they needed someone to help them navigate through the rapidly evolving, and quite confusing world of digital marketing, web design, e-commerce, email marketing, search engine marketing, Social Media and mobile, and they chose to trust us, originally as Websight Solutions, then as wirestone, and now for the last dozen years as Trivera.  

2014 will be a year of bold new plans: new customers, new partners, continued expansion, and the 5 year reunion edition of 2009's Social Media University. So Happy Birthday to us! Thanks to our awesome clients for their years of support, and our awesome team members who helped us earn that support. As we blow out the candles on our birthday cake, our wish is for another 18 years of success for us, but more importantly for all our clients because they've given us the opportunity to help them succeed.

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Pinterest: Social Media or Seach Engine?

 

pinseo.jpgPop Quiz: After Google, what is the second most popular search engine? If you said Yahoo! or Bing, you're typical but not correct. The right answer is YouTube! More people use YouTube's search to find what they're looking for than use Bing, Yahoo!, Ask and AOL combined!

And who is number three? If you said Yahoo! or Bing, you're wrong again. According to Shareaholic Analytics, in October of 2013, Pinterest had more traffic than either of them.

For the uninitiated, Pinterest is an image-based information sharing social media website where users create and manage image collections in categories, such as favorite places and spaces, interests, and hobbies. Users browse other members' pinboards for images and can "like" photos and even "re-pin" images to their own pinboards. The audience for Pinterest skews highly female. Pinterest has 25.6 million users spending an average of nearly 15 minutes per visit.

Many users simply log onto the site and browse through the latest images posted by their favorite users. However, an ever-growing number are using the search tool as an actual search engine to find solutions to problems, answers to questions, and suggestions and ideas for items to buy or services to contract.

Pinterest offers business accounts. Those accounts allow the owners to display all the important information about the business so prospective customers can find and contact them. Communicative photos and shareable infographics posted from those accounts can link to the company's website. Pics become clicks. And clicks create purchases.

While businesses of all types are taking advantage of Pinterest, builders, landscapers, remodelers and interior decorators are getting great results from Houzz, a similar site aimed at that specific market segment. While Pinterest is general and skews female, Houzz is more targeted and skews just a bit more male.

All of this comes as a surprise to the many marketers and business owners who still regard much of social media as just fun and games but not serious tools to help their business. However, smart businesses are already capitalizing on it and, like they did with Google and YouTube, are turning Pinterest into sales. If a picture or informational image can communicate your brand's value proposition, so can you.
 
This article originally appeared in the Biz Times Social Media Strategies.

10 Steps to Digital Marketing Success

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In our last blog, we listed the 6 ways your neglected website is costing you money. If you are one of the rare businesses whose website is producing piles of revenue even though you haven't updated it in years, this isn't for you.

But, if you can use additional sales revenue from your digital channels, read on.

Our mantra has always been that a web site is not an event, it's a process. That process requires ongoing effort, attention and investment to maximize revenue and value.

As a digital marketing firm, having clients who hire us to build a website, only to let it languish in neglect and produce mediocre results does neither us nor the client any good. So here at Trivera, our focus is taking responsibility for our clients' total online success by having all new clients sign annual contracts, where the website development is only the fourth element in a ten point plan for success.

Here are the steps that we believe are necessary for success, and the reasons we include each:

1.) Discovery

Your success begins with defining your goals. What specific results do you expect your digital marketing efforts to produce? If you don't know where you're going, how will you know when you get there? Whether it's increased sales for an e-commerce site, new leads for your sales staff to cultivate, heightened awareness for your brand or more traffic to improve ad revenue, it's only by setting specific goals that will give yourself a target to hit. And as your partner, we need to make sure we're all on the same page.

2.) Development of a Marketing Strategy and Tactical Recommendations

Even thinking about tactics before you develop your strategy is a waste of time. Things like "Getting on Twitter" are just tactics. Achieving the goals you defined in step one requires a broad and deep plan. Understanding your brand in a way to be able to communicate your value proposition and personality to your current and future fans well enough to determine is what helps you decide if ANY Social Media is an effective vehicle. That's your strategy. It's your guide to determine what tactics will be appropriate and effective in helping you achieve your goals.

3.) Search Engine Optimization Plan

Guessing at a few keywords and trying get on page one of Google for those keywords is the recipe for SEO failure. Unfortunately, it is the "plan" most businesses and organizations are using. Is your target audience even searching for what you offer with those keywords? Do you know which keyword phrases will produce results, and which will bounce people back to Google to find another result (something actually causes search engine rankings to decrease)? Do you know the difference between branded and non-branded traffic and why it's important? Do you know how to uncover which keyword phrases will produce the number of non-bouncing visitors you'll need to achieve your specific success goals? If you don't know the answers to these (and a half dozen other basic questions most SEO specialists understand instinctively), Google will be nothing but a constant frustration and financial albatross.

4.) Creation of a fully optimized website

The creation of a website is the sum total of what many web design/development firms do. But optimization is the necessary ingredient to a successful digital strategy that many of them miss. Turning visitors into customers requires an understanding of conversion rates and what affects them. Will your site create sales or discourage them? Will people coming on tablets and smartphones be comfortable or frustrated? Will the transactional goal of the site be easy to find regardless of how, when and where visitors enter the site, or will they get lost in a maze of unnecessary information, steps, clicks and questions?

Within a fraction of a second, most visitors have judged you and made up their mind about your brand. Virtually every element of the site... the choice of content management systems, home page layout, order and depth of the navigational choices, words per page and whether they are paragraphs or bullet points, size, position and quality of images, color choices...impact the visitor's opinion of you. Unless your approach is strategic, and your developer understands how all of this impacts your visitors' perceptions and decisions, you won't get a successful digital marketing tool, you'll get a website. Nothing more. Certainly not success.

Here's where many people stop, thinking they are now done and success will just happen. Actually, this is where the real work begins.

5.) Execution of website content marketing efforts.

Your site is tested and launched, but almost immediately your blog, press room, content, product details, demonstration videos and other content will require ongoing effort to maintain their freshness. Keeping the site updated is only a part. Keeping the rest of the places out on the web that drive traffic to your site updated is even more important. That means email newsletters and promotions, outbound PR, commenting on other sites' blogs, and legitimate link building.

6.) Execution of ongoing SEO and SEM tactics

Just as your website is not an event, neither is your SEO. The algorithms that determine who makes it to page one of a search change frequently. What worked last month probably doesn't work this month. Knowing what has changed and what you need to do to take advantage of those changes requires effort and expertise. And it never ends.

7.) Execution of Social Media tactics

Here's where agencies and gurus who only do Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, fail. Sun Tzu said "Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." I've dealt with this topic enough that it doesn't need to be repeated here other than to say this step will only help your digital marketing plan become successful if the tactics are being used as part of a larger strategy.

8.) Execution of traditional marketing tactics

Just because this is a digital marketing plan it doesn't mean you need to stop doing traditional marketing. If your strategic target can be effectively reached via direct mail, print and traditional electronic media, you hurt yourself by regarding them as obsolete or irrelevant. You'll just want to make sure you're tracking your efforts to make sure you only continue the ones that result in demonstrable results.

9.) Monthly measurement of key performance indicators

Remember those goals you outlined 7 or 8 steps ago? How are you doing? Tools exist to measure site traffic, bounce rate, conversion rates, popular navigational paths, transaction values, SEO ranking, social media sentiment. You don't have to be using them daily. Weekly or monthly may be adequate.

10.) Adjustment of efforts to continue to produce maximum ROI

Because targets and goals are part of your strategy, and you're measuring your results, you know what you need to do more of, and what to do less of to produce the results you're striving for. And you're in the zone of increasing your results, and reducing your costs.

Sound like a lot of work? It is. If success was easy, everyone would be successful. Whether you hire a firm like Trivera, or handle it internally, the steps to success are still the same. How many of them are you neglecting?

Social Media: What’s That Sound?

iStock_000014305728XSmall-300x199[1]For years, clients have been asking us if they needed to get on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Google Plus. Now everyone’s asking about Pinterest. Our answer has never changed: “Don’t even think about any of them until you define your strategy."

In his timeless book “The Art of War," Sun Tzu wrote: “Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." Those ancient words perfectly describe the all-too-common sound we’re hearing these days: the din of multitudes of marketers’ failed Social Media efforts.

It’s the sound of businesses getting on Twitter not knowing what they’re supposed to be doing there. Market awareness, brand reinforcement, lead generation, public relations, media outreach, reputation management, customer service, coupon code distribution and consumer research are all possible tactical uses for Twitter. But until a strategy has been created to determine the right tactics, those tweets are just the noise before defeat.

It’s the sound of businesses creating Facebook fan pages, not knowing if their brand supporters are even there, investing huge amounts of time and effort to try to create results they have not defined, and buying display ads that nobody sees or promoted posts that people hate. Just more noise before the inevitable defeat.

It’s the sound of websites dropping off page one of Google searches because of blogs being written solely as a “Social Media" tactic or Google Plus being ignored as just “that Social Media tool no one uses." And it’s the sound of huge Pay-per-click expenditures because they don’t know how Social Media contributes to their organic SEO.

It’s the sound of missed opportunities as many consumers opt for YouTube and Pinterest over Google as their preferred search engines, and businesses with no clear strategy have no clue what to do with either of them.

As the lines continue to blur between all media: traditional, digital and social, a disjointed tactical approach to any of them is just the noise before defeat. The sweet sound of success will only be found in all of them as tactical elements of a larger integrated marketing strategy.

(this article also appeared in the April 1, 2013 edition of the BizTimes)

CBS58 Social Media Feature Includes Trivera President

packerscheerleader1-300x169.jpgAs the recent controversy regarding a Chicago Bear Facebook fan site bullying a Green Bay Packer cheerleader began to go viral, the news team at Milwaukee's CBS affiliate needed a Social Media expert to interview for their 10 O'Clock news. So to find the right person, they did what any self-respecting media organization would do: They Googled it. The search for Milwaukee Social Media Expert brought up Trivera on Page 1, position 1, and after a quick phone call, the reporter and cameraman were on their way to Menomonee Falls to interview Trivera's resident Social Media go-to guy, Tom Snyder.

542705_10200673998198617_1942508108_n[1]Trying to meet a tight deadline in the middle of a snowstorm, the crew didn't even have time to take off their coats, hats and mittens. That caused the realtime tweets and Facebook posts from the team in the office to be met with accusations that we don't pay our heating bills.

As the day had gone on the focus of the story shifted. Initially, the story was about a Fan Page featuring a photo and the subject of the photo getting hammered with vicious comments. The woman asked Facebook to remove the photos and the post n the grounds that it violated Facebook's anti-bullying rule. Facebook disagreed an refused to remove it. So the woman struck back with another Social Media tool: a YouTube Video. And the battle raged between the haters and the supporters, free-speech advocates and people who demanded that Facebook relent. Eventually even Mashable picked up on the story, and by the time the crew got to our office, the owners of the Facebook page removed the post.

P1015548The questions from the reporters focused on whether we felt that Facebook should have removed the post. Tom's answer framed the dilemma Facebook had by asking the reporters if they would remove a news story on their site if the comments to that story turned ugly. He felt that technically, the fan page owners probably had a moral responsibility to remove the vicious and hateful comments.

Social Media is admittedly sometimes very anti-social. Bullying goes on there constantly. Fortunately, as proven by this instance, those who are bullied can use the same tool to stand up to the bullies, and get an army of supporters to stand with them.

But once again, whether it's for bad or for good...or both...Social Media is a powerful tool, and in the right instances can create viral buzz for the good to win.

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Trivera Office - A gallery of Photos

Trivera Interactive is one of Milwaukee's oldest Web design and digital marketing agencies. We have an amazing space located in the historic Mill building in downtown Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. Here are some photos of our amazing creative and collaborative space.

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Trivera Interactive - Serving Milwaukee and the world from the Mill Building.

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Trivera Interactive - The view from the loft

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The megadesk - Command and control for all Web site design projects

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Wall of Fame of Trivera Website design clients.

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Miss Muffett guarding Trivera's Icon wall.

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Trivera upstairs small conference room

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Trivera - Website design...and air hockey...happens here.

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Inside Trivera's small upstairs conference room

Foursquare Marketing E-book by Trivera President Tom Snyder released by Penguin Books

Hot off the virtual presses, Penguin Books has released The Complete Idiot's Mini Guide to Real-Time Marketing by Trivera President Tom Snyder. This e-book is a quick read, and is essential for anyone with a brick and mortar location who wants to capitalize on the segment of Social Media known as Geo-location marketing.

Foursquare is a website that allows members to use their mobile devices and smart phones to "check in" wherever they go, and if they wish, Tweet about it or post it to their Facebook page. While originally a way for people to hook up with their friends, Foursquare's point system and badge awards turned it into a game. It wasn't long before businesses started to figure out how to use it to drive traffic to their locations by offering special prices and other promotions to people who checked in at their locations.

About the new e-book, Penguin says: Social media marketing is here in force and is the wave of the future. Using it wisely can mean big profits -- with little expense. But marketing in real-time on Foursquare.com is unlike other social media, and can be both confusing and daunting. Fear no more! The Complete Idiot's Mini Guide to Real-time Marketing with Foursquare gives you everything you need to know to make marketing on this website popular and profitable. In this invaluable guide, you'll learn about creating and managing your venue, superusers, badges, creating specials, and finding customers -- all the basics for a great Foursquare marketing campaign and so much more!

The Complete Idiot’s Mini Guide to Real-Time Marketing takes you through the steps to get you familiar with the site, make sure your location is "check-in"-ready, helps you create specials, measure and improve upon your success, and even offers a few case studies of several successful businesses who have used Foursquare to make their cash registers ring.

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Real-Time Marketing is only $1.99 and is available for the Kindle at Amazon.com or for the Nook at BarnesandNoble.com

The Dilemma of Authenticity, Transparency and Limited Resources

The foundational components of any effective Social Media strategy are authenticity and transparency, especially if blogging and microblogging are part of that strategy.

The power of Social Media comes from the personal brand that is being built by an author, and the benefit a corporate brand derives by having that person engage an audience in the Social Media community.

But what if the real voice and face of your brand is just too busy to participate?

My company has been the online services partner for one of our area's most visible brands for nearly a decade and a half. While they know their brand better than anyone else, we know their brand in the online space as well as, or even better than they do. If they could afford to pay me enough to leave the company I own and be on their payroll, I'm probably the most qualified person to BE them in the Social Media sphere.  But they can't, and so we work with them as a vendor.

For blogging, we  told them that unless it was actually the corporate face of the brand who's doing the blogging, they really shouldn't do it. A ghost-written blog is not a blog... it's really PR and needs to be renamed as such and moved to the appropriate area of the site. And so we used an integrated installation of WordPress on their site to post their press releases, giving them the RSS benefits of a blog, but clearly labeling it as "The News" and not a blog.

However, as an already popular location on Foursquare, not being on Twitter or Facebook wasn't an option for them. That put me in a weird position. Having developed their Social Media strategy, voice, rules and roles, and needing to accommodate their lack of time and internal resources, we decided to make Twitter a co-effort. Initially, I posted each Tweet, but only after their review and sign off. It was a clumsy process with some of them taking several back and forth edits prior to posting. However, that process resulted in an even better understanding for us, and an educational process for them. Eventually they realized it was just easier for them to post themselves, and a year later, we've gotten them to actually be doing all the Tweeting and Facebooking themselves. We still continue to monitor for brand mentions and let them know when they need to respond to something. But we showed them how to monitor, and they usually are finding things to post or Tweet about just as fast as we would have.  We still help them develop Social Media based promotions, and take care of the Web and housekeeping aspects of the strategy, but for the most part, they have become pretty much self sufficient.

It was a difficult path, because initially, it could have been regarded as a violation of the authenticity and transparency that Social Media requires. But the alternative was a brand eroding silence in the Twitter-sphere and on Facebook.

It's a tough decision that many are faced with: outsource or not participate. But because not participating is not an option, this creative approach may be the only solution available.

10-4, Social Media – We Got Ourselves a Convoy!

When I started my digital agency back in 1996, I constantly ran into critics who called the Web "The CB radio of the 90?s." Eventually, as the web demonstrated it was more than just a flash in the pan, time has proven those critics wrong. But, I'm wondering where those same critics are today who would claim Social Media is the "CB radio of this decade?"

I ask because, unlike the criticism of the web, this time they could be right!

Friends in the Social Media universe know me as Triveraguy (my profile name on Twitter). But, back in the 70?s, another Social Media "community" knew me as Grouchy Bear.

The medium was CB, or "citizen's band" radio. The radios themselves had both a receive and transmit function, allowing anyone to engage in short blast broadcast conversations with other people who also had one. Originally used almost exclusively by the over-the-road truck driving community, it spread to include just regular folks, some using mobile devices, others using desktop units. The general communication happened on channel 19, where a constant cacophony of messages filled the airwaves… everything from truck drivers warning of speed traps or drunk drivers, stalled motorists asking for assistance, truck stops inviting drivers to their business or regular people just talking about such inane topics as where they were (your "10-20?) and what they were doing. As groups of friends and followers formed, other sideband channels became the gathering places for those communities. "Lower Channel 15? was the hangout for me, Bird Lady, Lannon Rich and at least a dozen others whose handles I've long forgotten.

The CB community used its own nomenclature…an almost secret code language…that longtimers helped create, and caused newbies to have to monitor for awhile before they dared to jump in and actively participate.

Community "leaders" emerged who organized meetups to allow all these people who had never met each other face to face to see the other folks behind the handles. Connections were made, and relationships were built. I even met a great guy I ended up hiring and we are friends to this day.

Non CBers just thought we were all nuts, but we were convinced everyone needed to be using CB radio. And our nearly evangelistic fervor drove our "non-enlightened" friends, neighbors and relatives crazy. But then CB radio started to show up in the consciousness of mainstream America. The movie "Smokey and The Bandit" hit the theaters and was a huge hit. C.W. McCall's song "Convoy" made the top of the charts and produced a movie of the same name. And there were the popular TV shows like "Movin' On" and "The Dukes of Hazzard" that glorified the whole CB lifestyle. We had arrived, and we knew it would only be a matter of time before we took over the world.

If you're one of us who are active in Social Media, I'm sure you see the stunning parallels. The reason I "get" Social Media is because, for me it really is just another stop in a series of subcultures that began with the hippie subculture of the 60?s and early 70?s, and after the CB radio adventure, went on to other religious, business and technological subcultures and has now culminated in Social Media. If you've ever been a part of a large multi-level marketing, religious or hobby-based subculture, you know exactly what I'm talking about when I say every one of them has so many of the same characteristics as Social Media, it's scary.

But all good things come to an end. In rare cases, subcultures grow and become so mainstream that they stop being subcultures and become part of the fabric of the culture at large. Others sink into insignificance and obscurity. Often it's because people move on with their lives. Sometimes, the technology that makes it possible gets trumped by something new. Frequently the whole subculture simultaneously has a "what were we thinking?" epiphany and it dies from mass exodus.

Universal acceptance for the CB subculture never materialized. It ended up being just another fad that exploded for a time, but eventually returned to its roots, still being used to this day, but almost solely by truckers.

So what ultimately happens to the Social Media subculture? Its fans believe Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and all the others will be like the Web and leapfrog into mass acceptance and live happily ever after. But, we've already seen MySpace begin to lose its luster. While nearly half of all Americans have a Facebook profile, Twitter's penetration is still significantly smaller, and according to Forrester Research, only 1% use check-in services regularly. With a business impact that's tinier than its zealots are willing to admit, its insider lingo, club-like characteristics, evangelistic fervor and the fact that in most markets, the Social Media community is only large enough to support the one or two businesses that are trotted out by the media as the "examples of success," the jury may still be out.

You could always tell a CBer by the long antenna on his car, truck or house. One of our clients told us the other day that she could tell us Twitter people because of the antennae that we have growing out of our own heads!

So all irrational exuberance aside, what do you think history predicts is next on the horizon for Social Media? Is Social Media headed for a "10-7" or will the future be "clean and green with the shiny side up and the greasy side down?"

Twitter – New Media, or News Media?

Is Social Media “ready for prime time?" A recent Midwest rainstorm provided the opportunity for Twitter to prove that TV isn’t the only medium that can cover a natural disaster. Will events like these…and how people use the Web…change the dynamic between traditional news media and social media forever?

See Trivera president Tom Snyder's blog for the full story.

Confessions of an Accidental Blogger

BloggingAs an early adopter, I have always been one of the first to jump aboard new technology and new ideas. I've been using PC's since the most basic units cost more than a used Toyota. I have been a High Definition TV zealot since I first saw it at a Las Vegas broadcaster convention 20 years ago and had one in my living when the only thing on TV in HD was the reel of 20 0r 30 nature videos played over and over on Public TV. I had one of the first devices that was called a Smart Phone so long ago that, when compared to today's Droids and iPhones was about as smart as a turtle on a fence post. I was introduced to the Web in 1994 and have been involved in Web development since the only Web creation tool was notepad and an FTP program.

Although Social Media is now a mainstream phenomenon, I've been participating in the "Social" Web since the days when online communities were nothing but DOS text on a black screen over a 14.4 modem. While the land rush is now on to sign up for MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Foursquare profiles, I was among the first to participate in all of them.

So, you're probably thinking if I'm such an early adopter, why did it take me so long to create my own blog?

I actually have been blogging since 1996. It just wasn't called that. My monthly email newsletter for my company was called Websight Insight, and every issue had two or three articles on Web marketing best practices. After it was sent to the mailing list, the articles became a part of our Web site. Those have continued all along, and eventually became a part of the WordPress installation for news and articles in a new site we developed a few years ago.

But I still never had my very own blog, at my very own domain name… until now. You'll find my new blog at triveraguy.com

Still not sure that floods of people will be here to read what I have to say. I have approximately 6,000 followers on Twitter who have clicked through 37,000 times on links I've promoted to other people's blogs. So maybe I can drive some folks to my own stuff. While all of my content between 1997 and 2001 got lost due to several site redesigns and migrations, I'm confident that what is here will be of value to people trying to figure out how digital media fits into their business strategy…matter of fact as I'm going through the archives to add all my content to this blog, I'm thinking much of it is actually pretty darn good if I say so myself. Even the really old stuff.

So do with this thing what people in the Social Media world do…Delicious it, Digg It, Reddit it, StumbleUpon it, Bookmark it, Tweet it, Wave it, Buzz it, Fark it, Fave it, comment on it, snag the RSS feed, but most important, I hope you do with the information what some "fans" have been doing for 14 years: read it and use it help your business.

And let me know what else I can do for you or a topic I can cover.

Trivera's Tom Snyder to Speak at BizTimes Tech Expo

The schedule for the 2010 Biz Tech Conference and Expo has been released, and among its speakers, presenters and facilitators is Trivera President and CEO Tom Snyder.  Tom will be presenting "Why NOW is the perfect time to jump on the Twitter Bandwagon" on Thursday, April 29th at 10:45 am.

So why IS it time for your business to start tweeting? With Foursquare still in its infancy, and Facebook only working for certain types of brands, Twitter provides any-sized businesses the best chance for demonstrable and quick ROI. If you haven't yet begun to utilize Twitter, or your existing Twitter effort is failing to realize its potential, this session is for you. Tom will show you why...and HOW...to use Twitter effectively and start growing your business.

Sponsored by BizTimes Media, the Biz Tech Conference and Expo is being held on April 28-29 at at Wisconsin Exposotion Center at State Fair Park in West Allis, Wisconsin. Seminar and Exhibition registration is complimentary till April 26th.

How I Make You Smarter...and Your Business More Successful...One Tweet at a Time.

People who follow me on Twitter know that a prominent component of the way I use that Social Networking tool is to post links to helpful articles. As the primary brand voice of  Trivera, my goal is to help people learn both about me and FROM me.  And so while just about any time of day, you'll see me using Twitter to opine, engage, interact, and sometimes just be goofy, every weekday during business hours my Tweet-stream contains posts like:  "5 reasons your Web site is losing money http://ow.ly/1wqy,"  "19 Tips for Driving Traffic to Your Blog http://ow.ly/1vZCT" and "10 signs your iPad has made you the most annoying person ever http://ow.ly/1vGUQ."

Those articles come from blogs, email newsletters and forums and are specifically chosen to help you become better at what you do, and show up about once an hour between 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday. Whether you're a small business owner, Web developer, marketing professional, or just a student of the digital world, the articles I link to are specifically, and strategically selected to give you a few nuggets of helpful wisdom in a quick read (or scan).

Part of my daily regimen is an early morning check of my RSS feeds, industry newsletters and a few quirky and obscure Web sites to find informational resources for myself. Of the hundred or so articles I see, and the 20 or 30 I read, I pick the 7 or 8 that really represent the cream of the crop and share them with my Twitter followers. The common denominator is that they're short, well written, accurate, organized, timely and helpful. I often re-write the headline if I think I can better communicate the benefit of the information and improve the likelihood that people will go read them. And I use Hootsuite to shorten the URL and schedule them to trickle out during the day rather than deluge everyone with a flood of information all at once.

Some critics have questioned why I do it, pointing out that they can get all of this in their own RSS feed. But I know from my own daily exercise that, because anyone can blog, much of what fills the blogosphere is poorly written, filled with errors, or both. I've earned the trust of my followers to be the filter that only allows the best of the best.

The evidence shows that I must be doing something right.  In addition to shortening long URLS and allowing me to schedule my posts, Hootsuite allows me to measure metrics. Since I began doing this and keeping track a little over a year ago, over 31,000 people have clicked through to read what I've posted. And by even being able to see which articles are the most clicked on, it allows me to fine tune the choice of articles to make sure that I'm tweeting the types of content that people find most helpful.

The good news is that you don't even have to be on Twitter to benefit from the articles. Bookmark this link and just my tweets with shortened links will show up in your browser. If you have an RSS reader, add this feed to it, and the articles will show up there.

Since we've been in business, it's been my goal raise the level of the Web intelligence of the market. I don't have the time to blog as often as I'd like, and even when I do, someone else has probably already blogged about my topic before. But the combination of these articles and my blogs (which also end up in these Tweets and feeds), seem to be doing a great job of educating the market. In addition to making followers smarter, it also establishes me as an authority without having to spend hours a week writing my own blogs, which is a tactic we also recommend to some of our clients.

The world of the Web is changing rapidly. Web 1.0 is giving way to Web 2.0. While many of my tips are focused on Social Media, I still link to articles on Search Engine Optimization, Email Marketing and making your site successful. But there's no doubt where the market is headed, and by following my posts, you can be equipped with the information you need to ride the wave.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, the most clicked through article ever is You're doing Social Media. That's good. But not Mobile? Uh-oh...

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Tom Snyder @triveraguy Tom Snyder is Founder, President and CEO of Trivera Interactive, a Midwest New Media firm. Tom is a Web guy, wine snob, music junkie, Ex-Milwaukee Radio Guy, HDTV expert, and political wonk.

The Social Media Lovefest in Milwaukee - Unique or Universal?

An amazing wave has swept this great city on a great lake.

Having spent all of my 56 years in Milwaukee, I've always been proud when I hear visitors gush about what residents know all too well: The people of Milwaukee are the nicest folks they've ever met. So it's only natural that a platform that is comprised of interaction and communication would flourish in a town like ours.

Social Media...and more specifically, Twitter and now FourSquare have made significant marks on the landscape of Brew City, including:

  • Almost constant media coverage of Social Media as a phenomenon.

  • Businesses like Streetza Pizza, AJ Bombers and Blatz Liquor whose successes have been almost entirely fueled by the support of the Social Media community.

  • A nearly 400 seat sellout for our Social Media University - Milwaukee, fueled almost exclusively by promotion using Social Media, with virtually no promotion in traditional media.

  • 3-4 well-attended, targeted Social Media training/networking events every week, and so many large-scale Social Media events that it's been hard for us to schedule our next Social Media University Milwaukee without conflicting with one of them. (Note: SMUM2 is currently firming up its date and lineup ).

  • Great relationships built between dozens of local media celebrities and average folks (stories of which could easily be an entire blog).

  • The amazing new collaborative spirit that has emerged between many of the creative, technology, and new media people and organizations who have co-existed here for years, but have just met and begun to work together in the past twelve months.

  • Milwaukee consistently ranks among the top US cities in the Twtvite lists of upcoming social media events.

  • A recent Tweetup at AJ Bombers drew so many people that attendees were awarded the first Foursquare "Swarm Badge" in the entire Midwest. An upcoming Tweetup at our own office already has enough interest that it could potentially become the first non bar/restaurant to result in a "Swarm Badge" for its attendees.

As we commemorate the first anniversary of a Tweetup that the Tweetup Girls held at the Iron Horse Hotel that seemed to be a pivotal moment, some with whom I talk are convinced that this is unique to Milwaukee. When I go to Tweetups and other Social Media focused events and feel the Twitter-love, the sentimental part of me is prone to believe it. Other less parochial folks insist that, while it's big here, this same thing is happening in cities all over the country...and the world. And my logic has to admit that this must be the case.

Your thoughts? Is the Social Media love fest we're enjoying here in Milwaukee real and unique to us?

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Tom Snyder @triveraguy Tom Snyder is Founder, President and CEO of Trivera Interactive, a Midwest New Media firm. Tom is a Web guy, wine snob, music junkie, Ex-Milwaukee Radio Guy, HDTV expert, and political wonk.