Tag Archives: social media

Election Social Media: Wright & Brennan

Phoenix Election Social Media Wars: Wright & Brennan

Election Social Media Wars: Wright & Brennan

Social media has become an important and effective marketing tool, with businesses creating Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for their customers, sharing deals and special offers. And it’s no less important in a race for mayor, especially for the Phoenix election mayoral candidates.

We visited all of the Phoenix mayoral candidates’ respective social media pages to get a better idea of how they represent themselves and their campaigns. It’s one thing to believe what the media and rival candidates say about one another, but how are they connecting with their supporters and how are they bettering their campaigns via social media?

Yesterday, we covered Wes Gullett and Peggy Neely. Today, we’ll look at Jennifer Wright and Anna Brennan.

Jennifer Wright

Jennifer Wright’s website states her campaign focuses on the following issues: repealing the food tax, creating a more open, transparent government, enforcing SB 1070, increasing public safety, creating more jobs and improving small businesses and small business creation.

Facebook & Twitter

Wright’s Twitter thoroughly updates her followers of her responses at mayoral debates. She’s informative, and she seems active on her account, responding to her followers’ questions. For instance:

Jennifer Wright's Twitter, Election Social Media“@rbcarter 2 make sure jobs & oppy’s thrive, ‘hoods r safe & secure, & the city is fiscally responsible. VOTE WRIGHT!”
“@RPongratz Thanks for your support!”
Jennifer Wright's Twitter, Election Social Media“Q1: B4 be sworn in, I will identify 20 biz stuck in city process & make sure they are up & running by inauguration day. #PhxDebate”
“Q5: Fiscal responsibility KEY. Review proposed line-item budget b4 passing, cut fat and admin bloat. Hold depts accountable. #PhxDebate”

As for Wright’s Facebook, with 507 followers, it’s updated frequently with video posts, shared links of articles relating to the mayoral race, as well as her thoughts and opinions. She seems more active and personable on Facebook, determined to increase the number of followers every day:

Jennifer Wright's Facebook Page, Election Social Media“‘I have no interest in being a household name or having personal fame or notoriety. I do not seek to be a career politician. Instead, my desire is to serve and lead Phoenix back on a path to prosperity. I would be honored if the highest office I ever held were that of Mayor of Phoenix. I humbly ask for your vote.’ Jennifer Wright”
“500! LET’S RAISE IT TO 510!””Today’s goal is 490!”
Jennifer Wright's Facebook Page, Election Social Media“Have you seen and shared my web-ad?
The Wright Change for Phoenix
www.youtube.com”
“Jennifer Wright Press Conference Post-Chamber Debate
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhPqG2u8s3s “

Anna Brennan

Anna Brennan focuses on the community for her campaign. She pledges to “have the most open, accountable, and transparent government that the City of Phoenix has ever seen,” work on the city’s budget by proposing a zero-based budget, emphasize the importance of education by advocating for public school reform, and spotlight illegal immigration.

Brennan’s social media usage, both Facebook and Twitter, have identical posts — all video links to Brennan’s unique, live broadcasts from her cell phone (using bambuser, an app that streams live video for others to view), updated very frequently.

Facebook & Twitter

Anna Brennan's Twitter, Election Social MediaAnna Brennan's Twitter, Election Social Media

 

Anna Brennan's Facebook Page, Election Social MediaAnna Brennan Facebook, Election Social Media

No. of Friends & Followers for each Mayoral Candidate:

As of August 18, 2011, sourced from the social media pages linked to each candidates’ website:

Claude Mattox

Greg Stanton Facebook Page, Election Social Media2,942 Friends
Greg Stanton Twitter, Election Social Media775 Followers

Greg Stanton

Greg Stanton Facebook Page, Election Social Media1,349 Friends
Greg Stanton Twitter, Election Social Media583 Followers

Wes Gullett

Wes Gullett Facebook Page, Election Social Media759 Friends
Wes Gullett Twitter, Election Social Media235 Followers

Peggy Neely

Peggy Neely Facebook Page, Election Social Media509 Friends
Peggy Neely Twitter, Election Social Media452 Followers

Jennifer Wright

Jennifer Wright Facebook Page, Election Social Media507 Friends
Jennifer Wright Twitter, Election Social Media125 Followers

Anna Brennan

Anna Brennan Facebook Page, Election Social Media104 Friends
Anna Brennan Twitter, Election Social Media40 Followers

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Election Voting Dates & Times:

Saturday, August 27, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Monday, August 29, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Tuesday, August 30 (Election Day), 6 a.m. – 7 p.m.
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Election social media — is it important to winning an election? What do you think?
Do you think the candidates’ social media pages, “friends” and “followers” have any impact on the election and who will win the mayoral race? Let us know. If it is, it looks like Mattox is leading the pack.

 

Street Talk Logo, AZNow.Biz video series

Street Talk: Where Do YOU Get Your News? [VIDEO]


For this installment of Street Talk, Emily Horne and I visited the Arizona State University Downtown Phoenix campus to ask students where they get their news as well as their opinion on credibility, timeliness, etc.



Interested in knowing others’ opinions about a specific topic? What do YOU feel we should cover in our next installment of Street Talk? Let us know!

Walmart aquiressocial media, 2011

Wal-Mart Agrees To Acquire Social Media Site Kosmix

Wal-Mart announced they have an agreement to acquire a social network site called Kosmix.

Kosmix, based in Mountain View, Calif., developed a social media technology website that filters and organizes context from other social media networks. It is designed to connect people with real-time events and information that they want to see.

Founded by Venky Harinarayan and Anand Rajaraman who started Junglee — which was acquired by Amazon.com in 1998 — the focus of the social media strategy is to search and analyze connections in real-time then stream it to personal users to view specific interest.

For example, if you are a Jessica Simpson fan and want to get all the media that revolves around her, simply type her name in the search box and information comes up about albums, movies, relationships and more.

If you are looking for a topic in a specific category you can search by recent topics, movies, books, jobs, education, sports, and more. The website is designed to be easy and readable. There are no pop-up advertisements, no log-in required, and the clean look of the website creates a authentic feel to the information.

The trending events part of the website lets readers who are interested in celebrity news also see what is going on in trending topics or local news stories.

Wal-Mart plans to expand the team and come up with creative technologies and business ideas for the social and mobile commerce. With retail business and e-commerce in 15 countries, Wal-Mart can become an innovative front for Kosmix.

One of the exciting new features on Kosmix’s website is the social media streamline of TweetBeat, a real-time social media filter for live events with more than five million visits last month. When you pull up TweetBeat, it brings up Facebook information, Twitter tweets posted on the subject, photos and video footage.

TweetBeat is considered a social genome platform that captures the connections between people, places, topics, products and events as expressed through social media — be it a feed, a tweet or a post — according to the press release posted on the Wal-Mart website.

Wal-Mart serves customers more than 200 million times per week at over 9,000 retail locations. With sales soaring to $419 billion, they can afford to take a chance on an investment that might bring them more money. They have ventured out with Sam’s Club, a wholesale merchandise distributor, and have done well.

Wal-mart will close the deal to take over Kosmix during the first half of 2012, if customary conditions by the company have been meet.

Social Media at Work

Social Media Series: Companies Need To Set Parameters For Social Media Use At Work

This article is part of an on-going, social media series.


If you run a business and provide Internet-enabled computers to your employees, it is crucial that they understand how or if they can engage in social media while on the job.  Given how fast our world is moving, some would say that to prohibit employees from tapping social media at work could hinder the business — particularly if employees are engaged in social media for work purposes. Others would argue that it’s a slippery slope and that if employees can use social media for work, they will naturally engage in it for themselves.

Therefore, employers should clearly address, by policy, an employee’s use of social media in marketing, publicity and networking. And, the employer also should address employees’ use of social media for non-work activities that can impact the employee’s work.

In order to write a social media policy that is appropriate for your workplace, it is important to consider several questions.

First, does the employer expect employees to use their personal social accounts for marketing the business?  If so, then the employer needs to be cognizant of the fact that the employee’s personal account might contain non-work related information that is not representative of the employer.

Second, is the employer going to create work-related social media accounts that employees would be required to use?  If the employee uses employer-provided social media, such as blogs, then the social media policy needs to specifically address prohibited types of content (e.g., sending or posting offensive, obscene, or defamatory material or disclosing confidential or proprietary information).

If the employer decides to allow employees to engage in personal social media on the job, the employer also should consider whether to include a general prohibition against using social media in a way that is inconsistent with the employer’s interest or otherwise violates existing policies. Additionally, when the employee’s affiliation with the business is apparent, the employer might suggest that the employee include a disclaimer that the views expressed on the social media outlet are personal in nature and in no way represent the views of the employer.

Lori Higuera, a director in Fennemore Craig’s litigation section, co-authored this article.

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What are your thoughts regarding this article?
Your comments won’t go unheard! (Or unread for that matter.)
The authors of this on-going social media series will be back monthly to answer any questions you may have and/or to continue the discussion. So let us know!

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Photo: Flickr, norwhicnuts

New Forms Of Communication Causing Generation Gap

Social Media Gap

New forms of communication are causing a generation gap in the workplace — but who’s really at a disadvantage?

Look around your workplace. Chances are you’re seeing younger and more employees on Facebook, Twitter, iPhone and Android apps, and hundreds of other social media applications and platforms. The prolific little snippets of social interaction have spread like wildfire.

To the younger generation, they blur the line between personal interaction and a professional business tool. The Old Guard still often sees them as noise compared to established traditional channels of business communications. Both generations often wonder how the other gets anything done.

The work force 10 years ago was dominated by personal relationships, marketing savvy and big personalities. The phone, e-mail, cocktails and personal meetings dominated the corporate environment. The traditional work force relied heavily on building long-lasting relationships. It was not uncommon for deals to be forged over golf games and wine tastings. Access to key players was controlled by “gate keepers” who kept people’s time at a premium. Employees worked harder on fewer relationships with higher returns. Patience was a virtue and personal networks were closely guarded. This made the world harder to operate in, but also kept the noise down.

From the perspective of the social media savvy work force, tools such as Twitter and Facebook allow them to reach people more quickly and on a broader scale. As both producers and consumers of small bite-sized pieces of information, the younger generation views it as a time saver all around. They say, “Twitter is great. I can get hundreds of followers and talk to them all at once.”

If only a few of them engage it’s a win because so little time went into the relationship. For the more advanced social media users, the medium can be used to boil down complex human interaction into simple metrics. Suddenly, interacting with 500 people on Facebook becomes a game of which word in a sentence sells more product. This drive toward obtaining results immediately fits perfectly with the behavior of social media, as well as the millennial generation’s mind set.

The question isn’t about how well employees will communicate with each other across the gap, but rather, how they will communicate with customers. Companies looking to bring in social media talent must first learn if the consumer they are serving is ready for that type of engagement. A traditional work force will have a difficult time communicating with social media consumers. The solution here is simple: Hire a younger, more Twitter and Facebook happy employee. The Old Guard then assumes a more managerial role. Minor training will be required to bridge the intra-office political gap, but at least the consumer is being served.

If the company is serving a traditional consumer through a younger work force heavily engaged in social media, there may be a significant impact to the bottom line. It’s usually impossible to retrain consumers, and very hard to undo the customer interaction expectations social media has set for many younger employees. Given characteristics of the millennial generation, training social media employees to use traditional means may also be next to impossible. With a significant supply of traditional employees still on the market, companies will probably end up matching their employee base to their consumer base through hiring practices.

Employees have the option to transition from traditional to social media communicators. Traditional employees have the advantage of growing up in a world that did not know social media; that world will never completely go away. Social media can be learned at a fundamental level fairly easily. However, younger employees have grown up with social media. They’ve learned to use it in many creative ways and can ride the wave of social innovation with little effort. The new generation will, however, have to rely on the Old Guard to pass down hard lessons learned in the traditional space.

So what does social media mean for employees in the future? Based on trends, it will probably be a requirement soon. The world is embracing social media, and the medium is just in its infancy. As new tools to manage and control social media emerge, it will become more complex and essential to both office politics and customer interaction.

Everyone graduating today is steeped in social media and only a few years away from key workplace positions. The Old Guard will transition to areas requiring less and less social media and then fade from the workplace, leaving behind only a handful of the most effective old school communications techniques. By then, it may not matter; social interaction is evolving so quickly the social media we know today will be old school in the very near future.

Paul Kenjora is founder and CTO of Arkayne Inc. Arkayne helps marketers improve online sales conversion. Kenjora can be reached at pkenjora@arkayne.com.


Arizona Business Magazine Mar/Apr 2011

Social Media Employment

Social Media Series: Using Social Media In Hiring And Firing Employees

This article is part of an on-going, social media series.


With an estimated 34,000 Google searches every second, the Internet is most assuredly a source of information for employers when making hiring and firing decisions. Given the inevitable use of the Internet to make these decisions, there are a number of questions that employers should consider:

  • Should an employer use the Internet to investigate prospective employees?
  • What liability could there be if an employer uses the Internet in this manner?
  • Should an employer affirmatively address, in its practices or procedures, the use of the Internet to investigate prospective employees?
  • May an employer terminate an employee for online content posted during non-work hours?
  • Does it matter whether the employee’s online content is or is not about work-related topics?
  • What recourse, if any, does an employer have in disciplining an employee for inappropriate conduct on social media?

 

Prospective employees generally know that they should scrutinize their online presence so as not to have their resume hit the trashcan due to one weekend of debauchery posted on a Facebook photo album. Employers, on the other hand, too often fail to scrutinize their use of social media in hiring. Whether there is an official policy to run an online search of a prospective employee or informal protocol of the hiring manager, an employer’s practices and procedures should address the use of social media to investigate prospective employees.

Businesses should be aware of the potential liability in searching the online content of prospective employees. For example, a human resources representative decides to look up a prospective employee on Facebook and discovers that the individual is two months pregnant. She decides not to hire that candidate. Now, the business is vulnerable to an employment discrimination lawsuit if the candidate finds out about the human resources representative’s online activity and links the decision not to hire to the candidate’s pregnancy.

If a business wants to affirmatively use social media in evaluating the candidate and in hiring decisions, then it should express this practice in a social media policy and remind interviewers of the pertinent laws prohibiting discrimination in employment decisions.

Firing

In a survey conducted by the Health Care Compliance Association and the Society of Corporate Compliance and Ethics, almost 25 percent of respondents reported that the employer had disciplined an employee for conduct on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. In November 2010, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) initiated an unfair labor practice action on an employer for terminating an employee who posted personal negative comments about her supervisor on Facebook. The NLRB argued that the employer’s termination was unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in that it was based on a policy that prohibited employees from engaging in “protected concerted activities” — discussing the terms and conditions of their workplace with each other.

In an effort to avoid common traps in cyberspace, employers should seek legal counsel when developing a policy that outlines the accepted use of social media in hiring decisions, as well as firing decisions. For instance, while there may be certain circumstances where an employer can terminate an employee for his personal online communication performed off the clock and outside the office, there are other circumstances where an employer cannot take such adverse action. A public employer generally cannot prohibit its employees from engaging in private communication that is protected by their First Amendment right to free speech. Similarly, an employer generally cannot fire employees for online discussions with co-workers about the terms and conditions of work, such as how much pay each employee at the office earns.

Such a social media policy has two important benefits: it helps employees to align their conduct with the company’s expectations and it helps the company to support a decision to reprimand an employee as appropriate under the expressed standard. Employees left to question the cause of their termination are often the ones who also decide to visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to explore filing a discrimination charge and/or the NLRB to file an unfair labor practice charge against their employer.

Carrie Pixler, an associate with Fennemore Craig and a member of the firm’s Litigation Section, co-authored this story.

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What are your thoughts regarding this article?
Your comments won’t go unheard! (Or unread for that matter.)
The authors of this on-going social media series will be back monthly to answer any questions you may have and/or to continue the discussion. So let us know!

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AZ News

AZ News Roundup – Businesses Giving Back

Welcome to the first installment of our weekly
AZ News Roundup.

Every Friday, AZNow.Biz will be sharing a list of Arizona headlines that have grabbed our attention throughout the week to help keep you informed about what’s going on in our state.

For this first week, we are focusing on news concerning businesses and organizations contributing to the community. Companies statewide are contributing to causes from health to education, all exhibiting a desire to help benefit residents, individuals and specific causes.


Kinetik IT – Top 50 Web Design and Web Development Company in Phoenix is Giving Backkinetik I.T.

Kinetik I.T. is in the beginning stages of launching a program that is based on the concept of coaching employees to become the best-version-of-themselves. The company is also focused on keeping the “entrepreneurial spirit” alive and well within each person of the organization. The program is a multi-step process that will require the dedication of the company as well as its staff. Read More >>


AZ Local Listings SEO Services Sponsors Crohn’s Disease Nutritional Intake News and Products

SEO Brand Management LLC is an Arizona-based internet marketing agency that maintains a variety of online websites, social media, social networks, video sharing channels and integrated high ranking RSS Feed Aggregators that also broadcast information and product updates related to Crohn’s Disease. They provide several Crohn’s Disease nutritional intake products and information that may offer an increase in dietary supplement and essential nutritional intake for those who are afflicted with Crohn’s Disease. Read More >>


Free Books for Arizona SchoolsExploring Eagle Press

Publisher Exploring Eagle Press — which is an independent publishing company located in Surprise, Arizona — has agreed to donate two new copies of their publication, Marshall Explores Arizona, to an Arizona school for each book purchased from them on Amazon.com. Read More >>


Postling.com Teams Up with ArtFire.com to Create a Free Social Media Management Boot Camp

ArtFire.com and Postling.com are working together to create a six-week boot camp to help individuals better understand how to use social media in their business. ArtFire.com is the premier artisan marketplace for handmade, fine art, vintage, supply, design and media sellers. Postling (postling.com) is a web service that helps small business owners tackle the often daunting task of social media management. Read More >>


Hydrate And Help Find A Curebashas water

From April 1, 2011 through June 30, 2011, Arizona’s hometown grocer will donate 10 cents from every case of Bashas’ water sold to the Desert Southwest Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). Money raised during the three-month promotion will help fund research to find a cure for type 1 diabetes. Read More >>
Provided By Flickr

Five Monopolies, Methods of Communication Losing Their Hold

1.

Landlines

According to CITA, an International Wireless nonprofit organization, 91% of Americans carry a cell phone as of 2009, and those numbers have continued to expand.  Now more than ever, with the growing popularity of the iPhone and Droid, cell phones have become both a necessity and an addiction.

In past decades, landlines were an essential part of the home, but with cell phone giants like Apple, wireless communication is quickly eliminating the need for both a home phone and cell.  Now, phones do much more than dial, and let’s be honest — landlines don’t have Angry Birds or Restaurant Finder Apps.

Landline Phones No More

2.

“Snail” Mail vs. Email

Once a monopoly on long-distance communication, mailing letters to friends or loved ones has been virtually phased out of everyday conversation and proven to be the least efficient means of interaction.  What was once a necessity for love notes, bank statements, and college acceptance letters, “snail” mail is quickly becoming replaced with the popularity of social media platforms and widespread use of email.

Since cell phone’s and the internet explosion in the early 1990’s, this generation’s lack of composition skills have been harshly scrutinized.  In 2009, The United States Postal Service stated that 177 billion pieces of mail were delivered in the US, compared to 14.4 trillion by email.  Now, young people rely heavily on a keyboard, 140 characters and auto-correct spelling.

"Snail" Mail Replaced by Email

3.

Newspapers

Electronic tablets, such as Apple’s iPad, Samsung’s Galaxy Pad, Amazon’s Kindle or the BlackBerry Playbook, have been 2010’s newest toy.  According to the Washington Post, “average daily circulation of all U.S. newspapers has been in decline since 1987″ and “has hit its lowest level in seven decades.”

Newspapers have been undoubtedly hit hard — as major stations are reporting record losses, cuts and even closures across the country.  Despite the change in the medium which news is delivered, there will always be a desire and need for the public to be informed and educated on current events.  It’s just that now news is viewed on a 9 x 5 LED screen — not paper.

Physical Newspapers Moving Online

4.

Video Rental Stores

Some of my fondest childhood memories include “Power Rangers:  The Movie” and the newest Nintendo 64 game — both of which were rented from the local Blockbuster.  Video rental stores, like Blockbuster, have been slowly declining in business over the past 6 years as online sites such as Netflix and RedBox have stolen much of the business which these stores once had.

Having closed over 600 stores in just the past three years and reported record losses in the hundreds of millions, it’s no wonder Blockbuster is struggling to stay afloat.  According to an article by MSNBC.com, “Blockbuster Inc. may close as many as 960 stores by the end of next year,” primarily in response to appeal and ease of online streaming — in a society glued to their computer screens.

Video Rentals Like Blockbuster Replaced by Nexflix, Flickr, Scott Clark

5.

In-Person Classrooms

As a current student at ASU, I recognize that most classes still meet in a physical room with a paper syllabus and wooden desks from the Jimmy Carter administration.  However, as technology of educational tools increases, so does the medium with which it is taught.

Arizona State University offered over 700 online classes this spring, which range from Managerial Economics to History of Hip Hop.  It’s not just ASU, but virtually all major universities across the country offer online classes and degrees, and sites like Blackboard allow professors to post assignments and readings for the week online.

Classrooms Moving Online
Fifth Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference

Fifth Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference

Arizona Entrepreneurs Hold Fifth Annual Meeting Of The Minds

Join in for an exciting opportunity to connect, share ideas and be inspired at the fifth annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference.

This year’s conference, which will take place Wednesday Nov. 17, 2010 at the Desert Willow Conference Center, will feature tips and ideas from expert CEOs while also providing allotted time for networking with fellow entrepreneurs.

Over the course of the day several topics will be discussed including everything from effectively using social media and creating an eco-edge to conquering the chaos of entrepreneurship and engaging in top-notch customer service.

Attendees will not only get the chance to learn from local leaders on what it takes to get funded in Arizona, but will also see a showcase exhibit of Arizona companies and organizations that provide services that support entrepreneurs.

Additionally, this year AZEC will be addressing five of the most important needs to consider when reaching out to Arizona communities: collaboration, civics, education and training, arts and culture, and investment capital.

A variety of keynote speakers will accentuate the conference by providing their knowledge and expertise of the entrepreneurship field.

Debra Johnson, founder and CEO of EcoEdge will share how her passion for reducing environmental impact and being frugal created her award-winning company.

Jeremiah Owyang, a web strategist for Altimeter Group will discuss useful approaches to entering the digital world.

Dr. Paul Bendheim, founder and CEO of BrainSavers, a company that provides assistance in reducing the risk of memory disorders by incorporating healthy lifestyle habits, will speak about his entrepreneurial experience.

For those who are just starting out or who have been lifelong entrepreneurs, this year’s conference will provide abundant opportunities to foster new ideas and learn how the experts first got started.

To register and for more information, visit azentrepreneurship.com.

Photo: www.designerclothesonline.co.uk

Social Media Hasn’t Reached Luxury Brands, Yet

With celebs tweeting about everything from their morning latte to a product they’re peddling and Facebook taking over the world one movie at a time, you can’t go a day without being involved in social media.

However, luxury brands, like Chanel and BMW, have yet to catch the social media bug.

This Forbes.com article explains why many luxury brands aren’t advertising on social media sites the way most retailers are.

One reason is that consumers looking to buy luxury items are seeking more than just a sleek sports car or a perfectly-fitted suit. They’re looking for an experience that drips luxury from the attentive staff to the chilled champagne they’re sipping. That experience isn’t something a consumer can achieve sitting at home on a computer, even in the plushest of pads.

Luxury retailers are about decadence not convenience, which is why some of them don’t have a huge online presence.

At Oscar de la Renta, online transactions make up only 10 percent of the company’s overall sales, while Chanel doesn’t sell its items online.

If online sales aren’t a big deal to companies, how can they get excited about social media advertising?

The answer is that most of them don’t, even though a recent Unity Marketing survey of luxury brand consumers found that almost 80 percent of them have a social media profile.

Brands like Jimmy Choo and Oscar de la Renta have used social media to reach consumers.  But these retailers are the leaders, not the norm.

CyberShoppers

Attention Cyber Shoppers: Do Your Homework Before Entering The E-commerce Arena

Here’s advice for any business giving serious consideration to selling goods and services online: Before diving into electronic commerce, make sure to get your feet wet in such critical areas as marketing, networking, branding, fulfillment and customer service.

Novices can hone these skills by selling on eBay or placing products on Amazon Marketplace. But even well-established businesses must realize that an online presence involves venturing into such new territories as the blogosphere and social media.

None of this is any reason to shy away. The upside is too great. In March, Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger said his company is on track to generate $1 billion in online revenue this year. Those expectations are too lofty for most, but consider recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau: Total e-commerce sales for 2007 reached about $136.4 billion, a 19 percent increase from the year before.

Amanda Vega is a former AOL employee who now operates Amanda Vega Consulting, an integrated marketing firm currently headquartered in Phoenix. A big part of her business is Web site development and related services. She sees e-commerce as a viable option for two kinds of entrepreneurs.

“People should consider it if they think that there’s a place in the market that isn’t being serviced by someone else or isn’t being serviced adequately,” she says. “Or (it offers) a natural extension to their brick-and-mortar store to help give them a national or international presence instead of just going the traditional route and building store No. 2 and store No. 3, which can cost a lot more than doing it online.”

The nice part about operating an effective e-commerce Web site is there are more ways to make money than just selling your own products or services. One method, according to Vega, is through affiliate deals with complementary companies.

“Even if it’s, let’s say, $300 a month that you’re making somehow behind the scenes for referring to other products or vendors, it’s still more income than the business owner had coming in through the traditional door,” she says.

Mark Sharkey, the owner of Mesa-based PrecisionPros.com Network and such related companies as DynamicPros.com, which provides Web programming services, says there are a variety of opportunities for those with content-rich sites that generate frequent repeat visits.

“If there’s a reason for people to keep coming back all the time,” Sharkey says, “then those types of sites will easily generate money from selling banner advertisements or doing a link-exchange kind of setup where they get paid based on the number of people that see an advertisement on the Web site, click through and go to another Web site.

“The great thing about an e-commerce Web site is that it can make money for you 24 hours a day,” he continues. “You don’t have to be in your office for it to make money for you. You don’t have to restrict your business to the local market. You have a worldwide market that’s available to you now.”

Deciding whether to enter the e-commerce arena won’t be your biggest decision. Deciding how to go about it the right way will be. More times than not, this means involving people like Vega or Sharkey to help with such things as research, development, design and marketing.

There are many crucial elements that contribute to a successful site, and not just from a visual standpoint.

Create a user-friendly site that enhances the customer’s shopping experience. Provide good information and make it easy to navigate. Make sure the customer feels safe when placing an order and providing personal information.

“The Internet is an open forum and if we don’t encrypt that data, it’s easy to see and steal that information,” Sharkey says. “You want to make sure the Web site itself is set up or the Web server is set up to handle secure transactions.”

There’s also the issue of real-time credit card processing. If you go this route, make sure you have a reputable company processing transactions.

You need to be on a server with a fast response time or risk losing impatient visitors. And don’t forget product availability and production times. This is not the old mail-order business. No one’s willing to wait six to eight weeks. Customers expect prompt delivery. If you promise to ship within 24 hours, Vega says, customers start counting from the time of purchase, not from the time you arrive at your office the next day.

“Those are the questions that I think people don’t think about,” she says. It may be less expensive to operate an online business than a brick-and-mortar store, “but there are extra costs associated with the fact that now your business is 24/7.”

Vega points out that if you mess up, online shoppers can quickly spread the word through blogs, forums, message boards and other social-media means.

Also, there are numerous marketing considerations, some costly and others that require hard work and smart decisions. This includes optimizing your Web site for search engines through the proper use of keywords and by generating inbound links from relevant sites. It may mean creating a blog and establishing yourself as an industry expert to help drive customers to your site. You might experiment with online advertising in some of its various forms. There’s also traditional advertising and public relations.

As Vega says, “You can’t just throw the store online and say, ‘OK, go.’ ”