Startup Weekend: The Ultimate Event for Young Treps

Today’s post is basically a plug for one of my favorite reoccurring events besides EDC: Startup Weekend. Watch the video above for an intro to SW if you aren’t familiar. Here are the top reasons you MUST attend SW if you … Continue reading

If Online Marketing Were to Pick The Next Republican Presidential Candidate…

One of the reasons why President Obama won the 2008 election was because of his campaigns mastery of social media and online marketing. The Obama campaign embraced these two forms of marketing, creating a winning online strategy that appealed to Millennials especially. Four years later, have Republicans caught up in terms of marketing their campaigns effectively online? The top two candidates on the Republican side right now are former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. Which campaign has the best online marketing strategy? Let’s put the two campaigns head to head and find out.

Let’s analyze Romney and Santorum’s brands in terms of their online marketing efforts. We’ll focus on three categories: social media impact, website engagement, and website SEO and inbound links.

Social Media Impact
Facebook: Romney’s Facebook page has a whopping 1,509,746 “likes,” versus Santorum’s meager 164,906. This is a HUGE difference!  Also, Romney has almost 80,000 people talking about him on Facebook whereas Santorum has just over 41,000 people talking about him. Also, Romney’s page, powered by digital media company Thismoment, just looks a lot better than Santorum’s

Twitter: Again Romney has more followers, with 360,155 versus Santorum’s 153,375. Surprisingly, though, Santorum has actually tweeted about twice as much as Romney in total. Santorum has been tweeting an average of 5.4 times a day for the past week, which is impressive compared to Romney’s 1.4 average tweets per pay during the same period. Tweeting more often allows Santorum to be more engaged with his audience as well as more informative. He often retweets posts by his followers and keeps them up to date on the latest happenings with his campaign. Romney does the same thing, just much less frequently, which loses him points. Over the past eight weeks, however, Romney has been gaining both Facebook “likes” and Twitter followers at a much faster pace than Santorum

YouTube: Again, Romney has more subscribers than Santorum with 5,008 versus 2,914. Romney also has more channel views and more total upload views.

Overall, it’s possible that Santorum might have slightly more social media engagement with his followers, but there’s no denying that Romney has more followers in every category and is therefore the clear winner in terms of social media impact. Romney also has a higher Klout score (77) than Santorum (66).

Winner: Mitt Romney

Website Engagement
Website engagement measures how users interact with a website. Website owners want users to be able to easily navigate a site and find information they are looking for. In terms of our two contestants, I would assume they would also want users to stay on their site for as long as possible, researching the candidate’s platform, clicking multiple pages, and donating to the campaign. They also need a site that effectively communicates their political message to visitors.

When visiting Romney’s website, visitors are asked to provide their email address and zip code before even entering the actual website. Obviously this is to grow Romney’s database, but it doesn’t fall in line with the permission marketing concept that businesses are beginning to follow. Upon entering both the sites, they look very similar. Both sites make it easy for visitors to find each candidate’s bio and the issues they stand for, as well as donate money.

From a design standpoint, Romney’s website definitely looks better than Santorum’s, though. Santorum’s site does the job, but it doesn’t look like he’s put as much money into it as Romney has.

Winner: Mitt Romney

Website SEO & Inbound Links
SEO and inbound links are very important to a website because they determine how high up on a Google search the site will appear. It will be hard for a website to be on the first page of a Google search without many inbound links to the site. It also tells us how popular the website is in the vast sea of the World Wide Web. While SEO is probably not a major concern for these presidential candidates, whoever runs their website is probably very concerned with SEO.

A Google search for “Santorum,” for example, provides links to many anti-Santorum sites on the first page of Google. Santorum’s actual website isn’t even the first website on the page, it’s third! The fourth website is called “Spreading Santorum,” and has the quote, “The frothy mixture of lube and fecal matter that is sometimes the by-product of anal sex” visible right underneath the link to the website. I’m sure Team Santorum is not very pleased about this; they obviously need to work on their SEO.

According to HubSpot’s Marketing Grader tool, Romney beats Santorum 91 to 66. Marketing Grader is an assessment tool that analyzes a site’s entire marketing funnel and compares it to another site. When looking at inbound links to their websites, Romney wins with 3,828 inbound links versus Santorum’s 1,566. Romney also has 10,800 pages indexed by search engines while Santorum only has 1,460.

Romney’s site has a blog that publishes new posts every three hours on average. These blog posts are being shared an average of 75 times on Facebook and 38 times on Twitter. Santorum also has a blog but new posts are created much less frequently.

Winner: Mitt Romney

If the next Republican presidential candidate were to be picked strictly on the basis of online marketing, Romney would be the clear winner. He beats Santorum in all three categories; Team Santorum needs to step up their efforts if they want to pull ahead on Super Tuesday.

Reminder: Why I still love Alaska

When I was 18 and just getting ready to leave Alaska for college, I could NOT wait to get out of the secluded state and its famously cold weather. I was born and raised in Alaska and it was pretty much all I knew. Our family went on vacations relatively frequently, but I had still endured 18 brutal Alaskan winters that last about nine months each. I was so ready to leave and I could not ever imagine missing the place I had called home for so many years.

View of downtown Anchorage on a clear winter day, Cook Inlet in foreground and Chugach Mountains in background

Now that I’ve been in college for almost four years and have had a taste of the “lower 48” for more than just a vacation, I have a different perception of Alaska that has developed only recently since my visit for Christmas ended last week. I have lived in Reno for the past four years and I have been LOVING the hot summers here. I also like the relatively mild winters because we still get snow but it’s not too cold. This year has been different, however. It’s now January 3rd, and there hasn’t been a flake of snow in Reno, and there isn’t any snow on the forecast. This sucks; the winter weather in Reno has been really lame. There’s no snow, everything is dead and ugly outside, the skiing in Tahoe is terrible, there hasn’t been any snow days at school, no shoveling, no turning on the rear defroster, no snowball fights, nothing! All of this combined actually made me miss Alaska weather for the first time, and I actually couldn’t wait to go back for Christmas this year. I hadn’t seen snow since last spring, and I wanted a WHITE CHRISTMAS!

View from the top of Alyeska Ski Resort, a few miles out of Anchorage

On my arrival in Anchorage the week before Christmas, I was ecstatic to be landing on a snowy tarmac in a white wonderland! There was snow everywhere, just what I needed. I didn’t mind the cold temperatures, because the flurry of snow coming from the sky and the soft white layer that covered absolutely everything outside was more stunning than I remembered it ever being. And sure enough, I woke up Christmas morning to more falling snow, fulfilling my wish for an amazingly surreal white Christmas.

The snowy streets of Anchorage, normal winter day. Average annaul snowfall for Anchorage is 70.6 inches (National Climate Data Center)

Although I admittedly wouldn’t want to bear the winter Alaska weather for a full nine months, being in it for a week was awesome. I loved every minute of being outside, whether it was jaywalking the icy streets downtown to get to the next bar, brushing a pile of snow off the car from the night before, or just staring up at the night sky as the snow fell. So overall, I have a new found appreciation for Alaska. Next year, I will not only be excited to see friends and family for the holidays, but I’ll also be excited to enjoy a beautiful white Christmas, one thing that Alaska can always guarantee me.

Visit my little brother’s website for more amazing photos of Alaska here

Feel free to leave any comments or questions below!

The Year of Tech IPO’s: From Groupon’s Success to Renren’s Disappointment

As you have probably noticed, over the past year there has been a lot of news surrounding tech IPO’s. New companies like Pandora and LinkedIn have made HUGE splashes with their IPO’s in recent months. It seems like every month a hot new company goes public, but these IPO’s aren’t always pretty. Today I’m going to talk about some recent tech IPO’s, how they are doing now, and some future IPO’s that investors are about to bust a nut for.

The biggest tech IPO’s of the year include: Demand Media (online media/content farm company), Zipcar (membership-based car sharing company), Renren (China’s largest social networking site), LinkedIn, Yandex (Russia’s largest search engine site), Bankrate (personal finance company), Pandora Media (online radio), Zillow (online real estate database), Skullcandy (headphones), and yesterday, Groupon.

Groupon has been trying to go public for a few months now, and ended up being the biggest tech IPO since Google went public in 2004. Groupon offered 35 million shares total at $20 each, and as of this morning the company is worth almost $13 billion with shares sitting at $26.11. The IPO was a huge success for the company, even though there is a lot of skepticism about its future. One thing is for sure though, the IPO made a lot of investors happy. Like many IPOs, there were a lot of people who became millionaires and even billionaires overnight just because of the IPO.

For Groupon’s IPO, check out this Business Insider list of lucky people that made a lot of money as shareholders. The biggest winners include Starbucks’ Howard Schultz who got $50 million, Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz’s venture capital firm got $92.2 million, and Groupon CEO Andrew Mason’s stake is now worth a whopping $1.2 billion.

Even though most of the recent tech IPO’s have initially been successful, a majority have gone downhill since. Demand Media went public in January with a debut price that was 33% higher then the share price of $17, valuing the company at more than $1 billion. Today however, the shares sit at just $7.47. Renren, basically the Facebook of China, was said to have a spectacular IPO in May with shares surging 28.6% above its $14 IPO price. Today Renren share’s are down to a dismal $5.74.

There are some companies who have kept their value, though. Since LinkedIn’s huge IPO in May, where shares closed 109% above IPO price, they now sit at $81, just below the IPO price of $83. Today Pandora is also doing all right, with shares just a few cents below the IPO price of $16. Real estate database company Zillow is still doing really well, with shares staying almost $10 above the IPO price of $20, but still way under the debut price of $57.

The chart below shows 25 recent hyped up IPO’s and how they’re fairing. “Pop” refers tothe jump from the offering IPO price to the debut price. (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Overall, it’s not very pretty after the initial offering. In terms of the average of the 25 above companies, shares have slipped 31% from their opening price.

The successes of some of these companies in the beginning of the year triggered an IPO race with many tech companies, but since seeing disappointments such as Renren’s, a lot of companies have backed off or are waiting until later for an IPO. Of these companies, the most notable is of course Facebook, which plans to go public next year sometime. Also there’s Zynga, the Facebook game company that could have an IPO this year, Living Social, Groupon’s biggest competitor, next year probably, and Twitter, which will probably wait until 2013.

It has definitely been an exciting year for tech IPO’s, I think it’s amazing how a company like Groupon or LinkedIn can be worth BILLIONS in such a short period of time. This is the land of opportunity, and there’s money to be made out there, but just because a company debuts way above the IPO price doesn’t mean it will stay there. We’ll see how long Groupon CEO Andrew Mason stays a billionaire. My guess? Not very long…

Feel free to leave any questions or comments below!

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