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Wikipedias_Home_Page_ProtestSOPA is a bill currently being discussed in the House of Representatives. It's aimed at providing law enforcement and judicial officials with tools to fight and punish piracy and copyright infringement.

While the agenda may be altruistic, the language of the bill and the restrictions it places on website operators pose some significant hurdles that could end up censoring the Internet in many ways.

As Google, Facebook, Twitter and other Internet giants said in a joint letter to the Senate, “the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action, and technology mandates that would require monitoring of web sites.”

How will this affect you as a business owner or professional?

Think about your blog or social media channels. If you share an article from an industry resource, you could be guilty of violating SOPA and your website could be blocked. There are many other implications. Mashable’s Chris Heald wrote a piece analyzing the language of the bill, translating it into simple context.

Read the bill in its entirety and decide how it might affect you as a marketer and as a consumer of online content.

 

Thats_How_Social_Media_WorksThough Twitter and Facebook have been staples of the social media scene for several years now, many small businesses haven’t yet figured out how to leverage these platforms to communicate with their audience, develop their brand and, ultimately, drive sales.

But research shows that more and more people are making purchasing decisions based on things they read in social media. So, what’s a business to do?

Think about how you use Facebook. You may put up with the random ramblings of your friends, but when it comes to companies that post nonsense or information that’s irrelevant to you, you’re probably more likely to reach for the hide button.

On Twitter, the relevance and accuracy of your information is what makes your audience want to share your content. And, as with most other marketing tools, it takes time and consistency of message - not a hard sales pitch - to make it effective for your business.

Take a note from Gary Vaynerchuk (@garyvee). This is an excerpt from his book The Thank You Economy:

“When I first started Tweeting, I had no brand recognition; no one knew who I was. To build my brand, I started creating conversations around what I cared passionately about: wine.

I used Search.Twitter.com…to find mentions of Chardonnay. I saw that people had questions, and I answered them. I didn’t post a link to WineLibrary.com and point out that I sold Chardonnay. If people mentioned that they were drinking Merlot, I gave them my Merlot recommendation, but I didn’t mention that they could buy Merlot on my website.

I didn’t try to close too early, like a nineteen-year-old guy; I made sure to invest in the relationship first. Eventually, people started to see my comments and think, “Oh, hey, it’s that Vaynerchuk guy; he knows Chardonnay. Oh cool, he does a wine show - let’s take a look. Hey, he’s funny. I like him; I trust him. And check it out: he sells wine, too. Free shipping? Let’s try a bottle of that…” That’s what caring first, not selling first, looks like, and that’s how I built my brand.”

And that’s how social media works.