Lead411 Reveals List of Hottest Companies in DC

Lead4112222  begins the second quarter of the year with a lot of excitement for DC, as the company announces the list of Hottest Companies in the DC area.

As part of the Lead411 teams daily tasks, they go through more than 600 pages of press releases, as well as venture capital funding news, business articles, and more. This particular list originated from a total of 389 organizations/companies, and has been minimized to the top 24.

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Infer Inc. Acquires $10M In Series A Funding

Infer Inc. takes the year’s second quarter by storm as they have recently acquired an impressive total of $10 million worth in Series A funding. This particular round was led by Redpoint Ventures. In participation as well were angel investors, Social+Capital Partnership, and Andreessen Horowitz. Sutter Hill Ventures also made an investment.

The company’s CEO, Mr. Vik Singh, shares more about this recent funding in this e-interview with Lead411: Read More

News Flash: Social Media Isn’t Free

Despite everyone saying that social media is a free tool, more and more small businesses are finding out the truth, which is: social media isn’t free. Even though it’s free to set up a Twitter or Facebook profile, someone must manage those accounts, and their time (unless you’re a slave driver) isn’t free.

Vocus and Duct Tape Marketing recently teamed up to put out the report Path to Influence: An Industry Study of SMBs and Social Media. The interplay between small businesses and social media was interesting. The big problem SMBs seem to be facing right now is the fact that social media does in fact cost something. They’re also struggling to master and manage social accounts with so many available tools. And many are still uncomfortable dealing with customer issues publicly. Read More

Book Review: Social Media Marketing for Dummies

If you’ve read one book about social media marketing, you’ve read them all, right? Not so. Trust me. Because I read a lot of books about using tools like Twitter, Facebook, Google +, YouTube and LinkedIn for marketing. The ones I don’t like cover high concepts and don’t dig into the how-to, the nitty gritty.

But Social Media Marketing eLearning Kit for Dummies by Phyllis Khare is one that does break it down for you. In the book, Khare explains how each of these tools (as well as geolocation tools, which don’t get nearly enough attention in other books) help small businesses, and then she explains how to use them. In the style of the other “for Dummies” books, you certainly don’t need to be a Dummy to get something out of this book.

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What The Hunger Games Teach Us About Marketing

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard some of the buzz about – if not seen the film – “The Hunger Games.”  The book-turned-megafilm grossed $155 million opening weekend, and hasn’t slowed down since. But why am I talking about a film when I normally cover small business, marketing and the like? There are some important lessons we can learn from how this movie has been marketed.

1. Start Early.

I started hearing a buzz about The Hunger Games book at the end of last year. Granted, I’m not even the target for the young adult book, so if I were, I probably would have heard about it years ago. I started seeing the unforgettable book covers everywhere. It became hard to ignore. So what did I do? I read the book.

Whether you’ve got an event or product launch, the further out you can generate (and sustain) a buzz about it, the more people will clamor for it once it’s here.

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Staying Off Santa’s Naughty List with Marketing No-Nos

This time of year, you better be nice in all your marketing efforts, or you just might get a lump of coal in your stocking! Here’s a checklist of what not to do when it comes to all sorts of marketing.

coal

 

Email Marketing

  • Don’t ask people if they want to be added to your email list; just sign them up. Of course they want to get your daily sales emails!!
  • Send tons of email. If they ignored yesterday’s push, there’s always today.
  • Put lots of images in your emails. People like lots of photos, especially of you.
  • Ignore requests to unsubscribe. They don’t know what they’re talking about.

What Santa Says: If you want to get on my Nice list, make sure you’re sending emails to people who want to receive them. Give them an easy way to unsubscribe, or you’ll get coal. Think about what you want to read in emails and how often you want to receive them, and act accordingly with what you send out.

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Rehab Tips for the Social Media Addict

Do you leave your phone by your bed to check tweets late at night? Do you update your Facebook status while on a date? Do you surf Google + while watching TV? Does your spouse have to tweet you to get your attention? If you answered yes to these questions, I’m sorry to inform you, but you are a social media addict. Fortunately, there is treatment, if you are willing to work at it. (If you’re still not sure, take this quiz to find out:)

100%

This quiz was provided by – BlueGlass – Media Experts

Step 1: Limit Your Time Online

Like with any addiction, if you remove the temptation, it’s easier to live without your social networks. In response to this exact problem, there are now tools that block you from using the internet or specified sites. Freedom will lock you out of the internet for the time you specify, so you can get work done offline. LeechBlock, an add-on for Mozilla lets you block the sites that are taking away all your time, like Facebook or Twitter.

Step 2: Remove Social Media Apps from Your Phone

Unfortunately, no one has yet invented a similar app for the phone, so staying away from social media through your mobile is a bit harder. You can uninstall it completely, or try to use some restraint and just use it during certain hours.

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Should You Buy Social Media Followers?

Just like when anything gets hot, an industry builds up around it. Not only are companies designing new tools to monitor social media sites, but now they’re even offering to get you more followers…for a fee. Is it a good idea to pay to be more popular? Let’s find out.

The Lowdown

Type in “buying social media followers” and you’ll come up with all kinds of companies offering to make you more popular on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Question is: who are these followers? Are they even worth buying? For a fee, a company will guarantee you X number of new followers (always in the thousands). They tout it as saving you the time and money it would take to get these followers organically. But I’m skeptical.

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Book Review: The Mesh by Lisa Gansky

I know we live in a connected world, because when something cool happens to me, my first reaction is to blog about it or post to social media. I Yelp as soon as I visit a restaurant. I ask my Twitter buddies for recommendations before real life friends. So Lisa Gansky’s book, The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing, appealed to me.

In it, Gansky talks about businesses that offer products or services that can be shared, like Zipcar. Here are her qualifications for a mesh business:

  • Something that can be shared, within a community, market or value chain, including products, services and raw materials.
  • Advanced Web and mobile data networks are sued to track goods and aggregate usage, customer and product information.
  • The focus is on shareable physical goods, including the materials used, which makes local delivery of services and products – and their recovery – valuable and relevant.
  • Offers, news and recommendations are transmitted largely through word of mouth, augmented by social network services.

She introduced me to some amazing mesh companies I didn’t even know existed, and she offered tips on how businesses can offer mesh products or services. Throughout the book, Gansky offers easy-to-grasp concepts that can help any business owner, mesh or otherwise.

Gansky says that mesh companies have more opportunity to gain a customer’s trust, as well as to destroy it. Trust, she says, is social, and so all business is social. If a customer has a bad experience with a Zipcar, for example, he will immediately tell his circle of real life and social friends. That’s why it’s key to meet or exceed expectations with the mesh business.

So whether you have products or services that can be shared, read this book. It’ll teach you about how to offer a stellar customer experience and how to use social networks to stay on top of consumer opinion of your brand. Who knows? You might even learn something!

6 Trends to Consider for Your Business

It can be hard to know which of the many trends in technology or marketing are going to stick around, and which you should use to grow your business. Here’s my pick.

1. Social Media

No longer a trend, social media is really a requirement for any business, in my mind. But I could be wrong. Assess who your target audience is and find out if they are on sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. If they are, you should be. No excuses.

Best Thing About It: It’s free if you do it yourself.

2. Groupon

I’m still on the fence about Groupon, but if used correctly, it can be a boon to your business. Make sure you can afford to execute your deal, and have a plan for getting customers back in the store. I’d actually probably suggest starting with the Groupon knockoffs, as they may give you a better cut of your deal.

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