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Expand, Engage, and Lead at the 3rd Annual “A-Ha!” NH Social Media Business Summit

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

The word is in and the pace of change in social media has now eclipsed the speed of light. With Google+ on the scene, Facebook has responded to the pressure by rolling out powerful new features to stay competitive. What’s more, Facebook is announcing even more changes to their platform at the huge annual “f8” conference.

To help New Hampshire-based professionals get focused, spark conversations, tune into the energy of the almighty “A-Ha!”, and ignite positive, purpose-fueled action on the Social Web, Epiphanies, Inc., in coordination with the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, will host the 3rd Annual “A-Ha!” NH Social Media Business Summit on Thursday, October 27th, 2011 at Gunstock Mountain Resort in Gilford, NH.

“Social media is no longer an option for businesses and organizations,” said New Hampshire Division of Economic Development Interim Director Chris Way. “The business case has been made that these tools are just as necessary as traditional marketing methods – and in most cases even more effective. Our own “No Bull” Business Blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and SlideShare channels have been terrific for our visibility, and we’re proud to partner with Epiphanies on this signature event for the third year in a row.”

Lani and Allen Voivod, co-owners of Epiphanies Inc. and co-founders of the “A-Ha!” NH Social Media Business Summit, will again design and deliver the Summit, and serve as featured speakers for the day-long event. Other speakers at the Summit include:

–Abby Fichtner (Keynote), Evangelist for Startups at Microsoft and a highly regarding blogger in the Agile development field. “I have the most excellent job of getting to help startups build out the next generation of software,” she says. “I’m extremely passionate about how we can develop better software and am always seeking new ways to share knowledge with the community.”

–Lou Bortone, online visibility expert and YouTube video pro with more than 20 years under his belt as a marketing and branding executive with national media including Fox, E! Entertainment Television, The Family Channel and NBC.

–Steve Boucher, Communications and Legislative Director for the NH Division of Economic Development, whose “No Bull Business Blog” was rated “Best in Show” and “Excellent” over the last two years by the nine-state Northeast Economic Developers Association.

–Nancy Clark, Chief Strategist and President of Glen Group, a “fearlessly creative” and award-winning NH ad agency based in North Conway. Nancy is often nicknamed the “Owner Girl” at “New Hampshire’s Best Agency with Big Ideas.”

–Ric Pratte, Director of the Meltwater Buzz Social CRM platform for The Meltwater Group, a global reputation management firm with 800+ employees in 55 offices on six continents (including one in Bedford, NH).

–Corissa St. Laurent, Regional Development Director for Constant Contact, the undisputed leader of Engagement Marketing™ for hundreds of thousands of small businesses around the world.

–Kevin Skarritt, serial entrepreneur, founder of Flock Marketing, and Communications Director for Michigan CHI, the Michigan Chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction.

“This is NOT a ‘101’ training-type event, though it’s definitely suitable for both newbies and experienced users, too,” adds Lani Voivod. “While there will be countless and specific tactics and strategies shared throughout the day by our featured speakers and many other New Hampshire business leaders and new media trailblazers, the Summit will showcase what’s happening and what’s possible in the social space throughout the Granite State and the world at large.”

Continental breakfast, lunch, and refreshments are included for all attendees. In addition, popular NH singer/songwriter Jim Tyrrell will make an encore appearance at this year’s Summit, playing great music throughout the day. A networking reception, door prizes, Segway demonstrations, and (conditions pending) a demonstration of the longest zip line in the continental U.S. are also in store. Space is limited, and the previous two Summits sold out weeks in advance. To learn more, and get 50% off tickets by the early-bird deadline, go to http://www.AhaNH.com.

A Snapshot of the Diversity of NH Businesses, “Storified”

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

We tried something new last week on the No Bull Facebook Page and Twitter feed. During “Facebook Friday,” we invited our Likers and Followers to proudly promote themselves and their ventures by sharing links to their business’s own Facebook Page, Twitter handle, and/or website.

What a response!

Dozens of professionals joined the conversation, showcasing the amazing and inspiring variety of bold, passionate, and innovative Granite Staters, forging ahead and contributing positively to NH’s economic success. We’ve taken this great feedback from the social web and used a cool new tool called Storify to create a visual snapshot of the original conversation here on the No Bull Blog. Enjoy!



10 Rousing Reasons Google+ Is Worth Your Time and Action

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Today we’re featuring a guest post from Lani and Allen Voivod of Epiphanies, Inc., a social marketing and success strategies firm in Gilford. Lani and Allen speak at events and lead workshops and webinars for entrepreneurs, bold brands, and mission-driven organizations (including their annual “A-Ha!” NH Social Media Business Summits). They’ve also served as advisors and collaborators on the Division’s social presence since May 2009.

You can follow @LaniVoivod, @AllenVoivod, and @EpiphaniesInc on Twitter, ask questions on their Facebook Wall, and connect with +Lani and +Allen on Google+.

At twenty million users and growing since its beta launch on June 28, 2011, Google+ is definitely making waves.

Not the lifeless ripples of Google’s previous attempts at social – including Wave, Buzz, even Orkut – but waves of the Hawaii Five-O kind. Waves that thrill and inspire the adventure seekers, risk takers, and trailblazers of this dynamic new-world economy.

Even though it’s early days yet, please know Google+ is not only surviving, but already thriving as THE new social network contender to rival Facebook. If you haven’t been swept into its current yet, which is still on an invite-only basis, Google+ does seem a bit copycat-ish to the reigning champion of social networks.

“[Google+] is a collection of different social products,” explains Ben Parr in Mashable’s Google+: The Complete Guide. “These features include Stream (a newsfeed), Sparks (a recommendation engine), Hangouts (a video chat service), Huddle (a group texting service), Circles (a friend management service) and Photos.”

But the whole of Google+ and its implications for business and professional success are much, much more than the sum of their parts. With that in mind, dive in with us as we share 10 smart, strategic reasons why Google+ deserves your attention.

1. It’s Baggage-free (so far)

How many times has Facebook annoyed YOU with unannounced user interface changes, lack of customer service responsiveness, or one privacy incident after another? Google+ carries none of that baggage.

And you know what other baggage it doesn’t carry? All the relationships you have on Facebook. You get to start all over again. Maybe do things a little differently this time. It’s an attractive idea for a lot of people, especially those who feel like they’re stuck under Facebook’s thumb.

2. It *Looks* Simple

“They” used to say that MySpace looked like the Vegas Strip when compared to Facebook’s cool, crisp design. Now it’s Facebook that looks like a Lady Gaga rodeo, while Google+ looks like a clean, well-lighted place. Early adopters have cited this clean, simple design aesthetic as one of the big reasons they’re singing the praises of Google+ over Facebook.

Google has always celebrated simplicity as part of its brand experience. Dig the home page, which currently has no superfluous text, and back when it did, it wasn’t more than the length of a tweet. Only the absolute necessities remain, like navigation choices for search, plus advertising and business programs, because that’s where the bucks come from.

3. Lists Are Square, Circles Aren’t

Google has People, Facebook has Friends. Google has Circles, Facebook has Lists. You can add up to 5,000 People into your Google Circles, and you can have up to 5,000 Friends on Facebook. Big whoop.

How they work, though, is a whole different story. The unsung hero of web design is UI – the User Interface. Consider the seminal book on UI, Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think. You have to think reeeeeeeeeal hard about creating a List in Facebook. Lists aren’t even mentioned in any of the “Using Facebook” links in the main help browsing page! (Psst – click “Account” in the top right, then “Edit Friends,” then look in the top right corner of the center column for the “+Create a List” button.)

Google’s got it dialed. Click the Circles button. Find people. Drag and drop into Circles. Easy. Intuitive. Done.

4. Stream Control

Head’s up for the Facebook gamer haters sick of seeing your Friends’ Farmville and Mafia Wars updates and requests in your feed. (You do know you can block those, right?) What happens in Google+ Games stays on a Google+ Games Stream. No mixing it in with your other Circles.

Plus, so far there’s no secret formula about what appears in your Stream (a la Facebook’s “EdgeRank” news feed algorithm). The latest posts from peeps in your Circles are what appear at the tops of your Streams. In other words, you’ve got more control over what you see and what you want to see. Yippee!

5. Picasa Power

An alternative to Flickr, Picasa Web Albums is Google’s photo app, and it used to be that you had a 1 GB storage limit. Not anymore! When you upload photos to Google+, it uses Picasa’s engine as your photo management system, and you can edit your photos right in G+. Bonus – those G+ photos don’t count toward your Picasa storage limit.

Even better, you can view photos shared by people in your Circles while seeing at a glance which ones are generating the most comments. In our image-driven culture, these tech tweaks are pretty big deals.

6. Hangouts Are Hip ‘n Happening

Maybe it’s just us, but it seems the world greeted the Facebook/Skype integration announcement last month with a collective “meh.” A week earlier, Google+ introduced its Hangouts video chat app, and hands down it’s the most acclaimed feature of the network to date.

“The ten-person video chats (Hangouts) are awesome and a wonderful way to add more intimacy to real-time connecting/social networking,” says Mari Smith, one of the world’s leading relationship marketing experts and our own social media mentor, in What’s So Exciting About Google+ – An Overview. “I’m seeing and hearing about many cool, creative uses of Hangouts, such as: cooking demos, live tattooing, seven-hour concerts, pizza parties, and live news broadcasts.”

7. Search Plus One = INFLUENCE

Where do people do the lion’s share of their Internet searches? Yup, in Google. So when you see the search results, do you see Facebook’s Like Button? Nope! You see the Google +1s.

It’s been widely reported (and just makes good common sense) how much we all trust opinions posted online – from friends and strangers both – far more than we trust advertisements. So think of your own behavior. If you search for a baby stroller, and in the results, one site shows 3 +1s and another site shows 30 +1s, which are you more likely to trust, and click through to? This tiny little “+1” box becomes quite the power player in the world of social influence, sales, and ultimately, business success.

8. Algorithms, Anyone?

If people +1 your webpages and blog posts, doesn’t that make you more relevant in your industry than someone who isn’t getting those +1s? It sure does. What should Google make of that? They’re in the business of serving up relevant content on search engine results pages (SERPs). Raise your hand if you think Google will start factoring +1s into its search algorithms. Okay, now put your hand down and keep reading.

9. It’s Smart Business

Early reports claim that Google+ is filled predominantly with male geeks in tech-related jobs. These reports remind me of a marketing seminar I attended years ago, where one piece of advice was to be the only marketing expert in a roomful of dentists.

Right now, service professionals, business owners, self-employed go-getters, and brand mavens of all stripes have the chance to be real stand outs in their fields, before Google+ opens its doors to the masses. This is precious time during which savvy folks can make connections, boost visibility, nurture relationships, expand networks, and create opportunities with innovators, entrepreneurs, biz mavericks, and industry luminaries who are ahead of the curve in the social and tech realms. In these radically-shifting times, such a competitive and strategic edge can make all the difference.

These people – the Doers, Creators, Movers, and Shakers – understand the Bigger Picture. In many cases, Google+ pioneers know what’s going on – even live and breathe it! – and are forging the future of possibility for the sit-and-waiters and the let’s-see-what-happens-before-we-do-anything types.

It all adds up to invaluable connections with extraordinary, exponential, and infinite potential.

10. Tomorrow Is Coming…

Believe it or not, Google is still calling Google+ a “Project,” and it’s still officially in beta. Yet it’s probably the biggest-ever beta test in the world at this point, and it’s only getting bigger.

Think of what’s not in place yet: Ads, business pages, and integration with other Google features like Places, Latitude, Offers, Calendar, and Checkout. Google+ also has the unbelievable advantage of learning from Facebook’s trials and errors, and building tools and apps that are superior right out of the gate. Not to mention Google’s dominance in mobile (Android), video (YouTube), and search.

When it comes to the social space, Google may have been a little like Baby Huey in the past, but it looks like all its acquisitions and expansions are ready to step into their destinies and ascend to the next exciting level of purpose-driven ingenuity.

But What About Facebook?

Now, you could read this all and think, “Should I just ditch Facebook and head over to Google+?” Fact remains, Facebook is still the world’s largest social network. More than 150 million people in the U.S. have an account. What’s even crazier is that for every U.S. account, there are four non-U.S. ones.

It’s gonna take a HUGE mistake on Facebook’s part for them to lose that #1 position. So regardless of whether you or your company engages with consumers, other businesses, the government, or non-profits, you still need a business presence on Facebook. (Unless you’re Apple, the company that once again and always proves there’s an exception to every rule.)

What’s more, Google has a history of doing things not to become #1 in a field, but to give the #1 player a kick in the coding. The Chrome browser is a prime example. Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari work just fine, right? What’s the point of Google making its own browser? To keep the other three from resting on their laurels. To ensure that you and I have a great Internet usage experience. That, of course, benefits Google, where nearly all Internet search roads lead.

Hopefully by now, you’ve got Facebook handled well enough that you can spare a few of those social media moments you spend each day to start playing with Google+.

If not…please don’t let anymore time go by. All this social media brouhaha may be overwhelming, frustrating, or confusing, but it’s part of a bigger shift in how people are connecting, sharing, and communicating.

Be brave. Be bold. Play around and be patient with yourself. You can do this. And if you need an invite, post a message on our Epiphanies, Inc. Facebook Wall and we’ll do what we can to help you out. Or, if you’re already on Google+, please connect with us there: Lani Voivod, Allen Voivod.

After all, we’re all riding the curl of this ever-evolving socio-economic ecosystem together!

Five Key Social Media Tips for Job Search Success

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be featuring some guest commentaries from the great professionals who’ve volunteered to speak at the Begin With Yes Careerfest scheduled for March 15th at White Mountains Community College in Berlin. This week’s entry is from the Division of Economic Development’s “social media guru” Allen Voivod of Epiphanies, Inc. Thanks for such a great commentary Allen!

Social networks influence our lives in countless and unexpected ways, including how we lose, find, and change jobs.

The stories are out there – good and bad. A Cleveland software architect profiled in Time Magazine who, after losing his position, landed a new one in just 11 days thanks to connections on Facebook and Twitter. A freelancer who lost out on a gig at Cisco because of an all-too-honest tweet.

Epiphanies Inc.'s Allen Voivod

Epiphanies Inc.'s Allen Voivod

There should be no surprises here – networking in real life also helps people land jobs faster, and people have been losing jobs for more than a decade thanks to ill-advised emails. But social networks put a much more powerful spin on these concepts in the world of work. So, how do you adapt? Here are five tips to help your cause.

1. Think like HR does. According to a recent survey of hiring professionals, more than 80% use online search and social media profiles to narrow down fields of job candidates. They even use online channels to find “passive candidates” – already employed people who’d consider a better deal at a different company. What will those hiring professionals find out about you?

2. Google yourself. Who does Google think you are? Do the results help or hurt? Regardless of what’s there now, you can affect those results by opening accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networks. These sites are so popular, they routinely come up on the first page of search results. And search optimization studies show that most people don’t go past the first page on Google.

3. Privacy control. All social platforms offer privacy options to help you control what’s shared publicly and what’s kept private. Use them! Furthermore, you’re already careful about what job-related things you say via plain old email, right? Use that same standard of caution with your social networking updates, and you’ll be just fine.

4. Plan ahead. Develop your networks now, before you actually need them. Add content to social networking profiles, and grow them over time. Like many things in life, creating an effective online presence doesn’t happen overnight. Don’t wait until disaster strikes – build your safety net steadily, so it’s there to catch you when you need it.

5. Creation versus curation. So you have a Facebook profile, a Twitter handle, and LinkedIn account – now what? You feed it content that shows you care about the work you do. If you find creating content difficult to do on a regular basis, go for curation – finding and sharing content from other sources with your own network. Share an opinion about other people’s content, and you get both creation and curation in one shot.

Whether you’re currently employed or currently seeking work, managing your online presence, reputation, and personal brand is critical for your professional growth and potential. If you’re not visible online, you’re essentially invisible to the executive, headhunter, insider, benevolent connection, or hiring manager filling or creating a great position you want and deserve.

Allen Voivod is co-owner of Epiphanies, Inc., a social marketing and success strategies firm based in Gilford. He is one of five featured speakers at the upcoming “Begin With Yes Career Fest,” March 15th at White Mountains Community College. The event is free, but space is limited, so register now! Email lsherman@dred.state.nh.us to attend in person, or go to http://bit.ly/NoBullStream on 3/15 to watch real-time video of the event.

2nd Annual NH Social Media Business Summit Scheduled

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

A whopping 500,000 of Facebook’s 500 million global users live in New Hampshire. Twitter recently crossed the 100 million user threshold and became the third largest search engine in the world, besting all but Google and YouTube. More than 80% of companies, recruiters, and human resource professionals report scanning online channels – including social networking sites – to research candidates, find prospects and weed out applicants.

Epiphanies Inc.'s Allen Voivod holds court at last year's Social Media Business Summit.

Epiphanies Inc.'s Allen Voivod holds court at last year's Social Media Business Summit.

In an effort to bring this ever-growing impact and power of social media to more New Hampshire businesses, organizations and professionals, the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, in partnership with social marketing and success strategies firm Epiphanies, Inc. and Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH), will host the second annual “A-Ha!” NH Social Media Business Summit at PSNH, 780 North Commercial Street, Manchester, on Monday, September 27th. To ensure content is geared to the needs and skill levels of the attendees, the Summit will be split into two three-hour sessions for two different audiences, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

“The shift in how we connect and communicate is changing the way business is done in New Hampshire and beyond,” says New Hampshire Division of Economic Development Communications & Legislative Director Steve Boucher. “If you want to be competitive and relevant to your target market, your community, and in your industry, you have to actively explore what’s happening – and what’s possible – in the social media realm. This Summit is the place to do exactly that.”

The Morning Session, from 9:00am to noon, is designed for social media beginners, small business owners, professionals in mission-driven organizations and passionate entrepreneurs. Presentations include “Social Marketing on a Shoestring Budget” and “Facebook on Fire: Tips, Tricks, and Shortcuts to Fuel Your Success on the World’s Hottest Social Network.” The last hour will feature the NH Entrepreneur Success Panel, featuring: Christy Cegelski, Drink Skinny, LLC; Stacey Lucas, Veggie Art Girl; Bill Rogers, Now or Never Media; and Steve Varnum, Communications and Marketing Director, NH Community Loan Fund.

The Afternoon Session is geared for people who are already running with one or more of the major social media platforms – including Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and blogging. Ideal for social media enthusiasts, community leaders, marketing mavens, brand managers, bold entrepreneurs, and visionaries of mission-driven organizations, the afternoon’s presentations include “Facebook Marketing: Customization, Fan Building, and Advertising” and “Engaging the Social Senses: Listening, Monitoring, and Measuring.” Additionally, there will be a Cross-Industry NH Success Panel, featuring Erica Murphy, Director of Communications and Community Relations, The Common Man; Paul Boynton, Author of Begin With Yes and CEO of Moore Center Services; Steve Boucher, Communications and Legislative Director at the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development; and Abby Fitchner, Microsoft’s Developer Evangelist for Startups.

Summit Sessions will be presented and moderated by Lani and Allen Voivod, co-owners of Epiphanies, Inc., whom Boucher calls the Division’s “social marketing gurus,” and who’ve delivered workshops, webinars, slidecasts, and boot camps online and off, for Chambers of Commerce, trade associations, and business development events throughout the Granite State and for clients and entrepreneurs across the country.

“We received tremendously positive feedback from last year’s New Hampshire Social Media Business Summit,”  PSNH Economic & Community Development Manager Pat McDermott said. “We’re proud to help bring these ideas and strategies to the business owners, entrepreneurs and community leaders who play such an important role in New Hampshire’s economic growth and vitality.”

“Our goal is to connect the dots, empower action, and incite attendees to thrive with these tools, channels, and platforms,” said Lani Voivod. “The opportunities are here waiting for them.”

“With social media as with business, belief is everything,” Allen Voivod added. “We aim to help people believe in their own bigger picture of possibility and success.”

As a special gift to New Hampshire’s business community from the Division of Economic Development and PSNH, admission to this event is free. However, there are only 100 seats available for each session, so early registration is strongly suggested. To register, go to www.AhaNH.com. For more information, call Epiphanies, Inc. at (603) 524-5248, or email events@EpiphaniesInc.com.

An Uncommonly Good Contest for Our Facebook Fans

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

Consider this one an early Christmas present folks. We adore our Facebook fans….love them actually and are constantly finding ways to provide them with plenty of reasons to keep checking back to see what we’re up to.

common-man-logoThis month, we’re offering a contest where two of our Facebook fans will be randomly selected to receive a $20 gift certificate to The Common Man Family of Restaurants (www.thecman.com). With 17 restaurants throughout the state, there are plenty of options for the winning diner to select from. If you’re already a fan, you’re automatically entered. If not, what are you waiting for?

And whether you win the contest or not, during this Christmas season, you should make plans to purchase  a holiday coupon book sold at all Common Man family locations. Each $10 coupon book is full of offers – from a free entrée to discounted overnight rates at the Common Man Inns, and the entire purchase price goes to the New Hampshire Food Bank.

To become a No Bull Facebook fan and earn a chance to win a Common Man gift card, visit http://www.facebook.com/pages/Concord-NH/NH-Economy/60832347356.  Much thanks to our friends at The Common Man and hope to see you all on Facebook!

– Steve Boucher, Communications & Legislative Director

Why You Should Care What Joe Had for Breakfast

Friday, October 16th, 2009

Now that I have your attention, you should sign up for the NHBR Network (www.nhbrnetwork.com), the first online business-to-business networking site in New Hampshire, and check out my latest blog offering entitled “You Should Care What Joe Had for Breakfast.”

scrambledeggIt details the Division of Economic Development’s foray into the realm of social marketing and why your business should make the jump to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Give it a read!

– Steve Boucher, Communications & Legislative Director

Social Networking – It’s Smart Business

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

As you are well aware, the No Bull Business Blog is a huge fan of social networking. We know of its power to link people and to serve as a tremendous business tool for the business community.

tomorrows-business-advice-logoWith that in mind, we’re pleased to present this month’s “Tomorrow’s Business Advice Today” column by Dr. Russ Ouellette of Sojourn Partners. In this column, Russ talks about “embracing the new realities of social relationships for results” and the importance of expanding our networks.

Still not sure what Facebook, Twitter and blogs can do to help your bottom line? Check out this link as Russ pulls all of the pieces together for you:  http://nheconomy.com/Tommorrows-Business-Advice-Today.aspx.