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The HBS Blog offers insight on Delaware corporations and LLCs as well as information about entrepreneurship, start-ups and general business topics.

It's Easy to Do Social Media Tracking for Your Company!
By Kathryn Hawkins Monday, November 25, 2013

Why CrowdsourcingWhen you run a growing business, it’s important to keep an eye on what people are saying about your company. Did you know you can track what they’re saying publicly over social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as reviews sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor and personal blogs. Keeping an eye on what’s being said about your brand can alert you to any potential problems, and can help you identify who your customers are and how to connect with them.

Here are some online tools that can help you track your brand mentions:

  • SocialMention – This free tool offers basic searches across webpages and public updates on social networks like Twitter and Facebook for the keywords you select.
  • Hootsuite – This social media management tool is available in both free and premium versions. It enables you to write and schedule social media updates, and to easily track and respond to mentions of your brand or specific keywords that you’ve set up. The paid version will allow you to add more social media tabs that you can view simultaneously and to add multiple users to manage your account.
  • Viralheat – This premium tool allows you to track social mentions on a product-by-product basis, or compare mentions of your brand to those of your competitors.
  • Spredfast – Aimed at enterprise-level organizations, the premium tool Spredfast enables large teams to collaborate on responding to social mentions and sharing content.
  • Sprout Social – One of the most affordable of premium options, Sprout Social allows you to simultaneously manage up to 10 social media accounts, with limited monitoring of brand-related mentions from Twitter, Facebook, and the web.

By tuning in to find out what people are saying about your brand or industry as a whole, you can ensure that you’ll be able to quickly respond to any complaints that people have about your brand and make sure that they’ve got their story straight. You can also use alerts to help keep track of new offerings from your competitors, or find out about new regulations that might affect your industry and business. Some of the tools, such as Hootsuite, can also be very helpful in keeping track of your company’s own social media activity, and responding to messages from others in a timely manner.

Social media tracking is an important part of running a business today—by using tools to help you correspond with fans and critics alike, you can make sure that your brand is responsive to social media chatter and prevent molehills from turning into mountains.

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Why Your Corporation Needs a Communications Contact
By Brett Melson Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Creating a new Delaware corporation or a LLC is very quick and easy with relatively little information required to be listed on the Certificate of Formation or the Certificate of Incorporation. Since the minimal information is on file with the Delaware Secretary of State, the Division of Corporations office mandated in 2006 that Delaware registered agents have a valid communications contact on file at all times. This is to ensure that any service of process is delivered to the company in a timely fashion. The law states:

Every corporation formed under the laws of this State or qualified to do business in this State shall provide to its registered agent and update from time to time as necessary the name, business address and business telephone number of a natural person who is an officer, director, employee, or designated agent of the corporation, who is then authorized to receive communications from the registered agent. Such person shall be deemed the communications contact for the corporation. Every registered agent shall retain (in paper or electronic form) the above information concerning the current communications contact for each corporation for which he, she or it serves as a registered agent. If the corporation fails to provide the registered agent with a current communications contact, the registered agent may resign as the registered agent for such corporation pursuant to § 136 of this title.

To sum things up, we need an individual’s name, street address, and phone number kept current with the agent at all times; a P.O. Box or postal mailbox is not acceptable.  An example of the communication contact could be a client’s attorney, accountant, an individual from the company responsible for overseeing the LLC, or the clients themselves. The P.O. Box or a postal mailbox is acceptable for the mailing of the annual Delaware registered agent service and for the Delaware franchise tax notice, but NOT for the “communications contact.”

To update the communications contact or your billing address please call us at 800-345-2677 ext 6903 or email us at mail@delawareinc.com . You can also visit us online at DelawareInc.com.

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What Is a Registered Agent? (And Why You Need One)
By Michael Bell Monday, November 11, 2013

In this video, Harvard Business Services Founder & CEO Rick Bell explains what a Registered Agent is responsible for, why you need one to form a Delaware LLC, what happens if you do not retain one for your company and how to find the right Registered Agent for your company.

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Interview with Bruce Clay: SEO Expert (Part 2)
By Michael Bell Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Can you explain the expertness three-legged stool (Inbound, Outbound and External) and how each is important to a successful SEO campaign?

Sure. The expertness three-legged stool relates to the link profile for your site and is a part of how your site conveys importance, trust and authority. A link in the online world is a vote of confidence.

When you link to something, you are saying, “this is important or relevant, check it out.” Other sites are saying that when they link to you, and you are saying that when you link to others.

Your internal linking structure also has a lot to do with siloing, and since we just talked about that, let’s start there. Your internal linking structure is a user’s navigation through your site. When done correctly, it should be extremely easy for search engine spiders and users to move about your site and find what they need.

The more technical part of that concept is PageRank. PageRank is a way that Google determines the value of your internal, inbound and outbound link profile. Google links to an explanation about PageRank in Wikipedia from its corporate site, if you want to learn more about it.

So you can build authority through the way you link internally – which pages you “vote” for. Similarly, you can build authority by who you link to and who links to you.

Your page importance is measured in many ways, generally based upon who you associate with online. When you link to another site, then you are saying “I recommend this site.” And you are passing PageRank from your site to theirs. But if you link to a low-quality or spam site, then that link harms your reputation and hurts your own site.

So you want to consider who you are linking to for the protection of your site, your brand and also your audience. You want to create an experience that is continuous for your users and the search engine spiders when they leave your site.

Now your inbound link profile; this contains the sites that are linking to you. The more people who link to your site, the more votes you get, and the more your site can be viewed as an authority. Likewise, spam sites can also link to you and hurt your site. And while you can’t control who links to you organically, there are some things that are in your control.

When Google’s Penguin algorithm update hit, many of the sites that were penalized by losing their rankings were those with suspicious and unnatural inbound links. So sites that had lots of other sites pointing to them with the same keyword-rich anchor text were among those that were hit, for example.

Google sees something like this and it’s a red flag that it’s probably something that is part of a manipulative plan to get rankings. And the search engine doesn’t take kindly to sites that are trying to game the system.

So the takeaway here is to be strategic with your internal, outbound and inbound links. When your link strategy is done correctly, aside from the technical PR aspect, you are ultimately helping your brand, the search engine spiders and your audience with the online experience you are creating.

For someone looking to do SEO what software tools do you use and recommend?

There are a lot of great tools out there. We have SEO tools of our own called the SEOToolSet®. Our SEOToolSet offers a lot of critical data to marketers. We launched Version 5 in 2010 with a bunch of new, great features, and we’re planning to unveil a major release of our tools in the few months.  Our tools are feature rich, yet inexpensive.

A couple of other tools that are well liked: Majestic SEO as a link analysis tool and SEMrush as a keyword research tool.

When you’re thinking about tools, more important than just gathering data is to know how to apply it. So we always talk about the intersection where data and wisdom meet to offer the most strategic approach to your SEO.

How can someone who is just starting a company learn more about the science of SEO?

You can read books and blogs, take SEO training, listen to webinars, go to workshops and attend search marketing conferences like SES and SMX. But nothing beats getting in there and learning from experience.

Before the experience happens, however, the most important thing is to learn how to do the fundamentals of “White Hat” SEO very well. This ensures your approach to SEO is solid, and all your efforts can always fall back on that. This is the approach we teach in our SEO training classroom and conference SEO workshops.

And don’t forget the importance of continuing education. Just as SEO is an iterative process, so is your marketing education.

In conclusion, if you were as inspired as I was in learning the answers to these questions and would like to learn more about these topics and more I would highly suggest anyone who does SEO whether you have done it for a long time or if your just starting out to take this workshop and read the book he co-authored with Susan Esparza “Search Engine Optimization All-In-One for Dummies”. This book can be purchased on Amazon. But, once you have taken the workshop I can tell you that it is well worth it to take the week long course that goes even further in depth into SEO and all the seminars are taught by Bruce Clay himself, the Master of SEO.

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Public Benefit Corporation
By Rick Bell Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What is a Public Benefit Corporation?

Perhaps you’ve heard about the new type of company called the “benefit corporation” or, as it’s called in Delaware, the “public benefit corporation.” Some states also call it a “certified B corporation.” Not since the introduction of the LLC has a completely new type of company been created—it’s generating a lot of excitement among people who want to form companies for a social purpose as well as a profit motive.

According to corporate laws, the purpose of a corporation is to create value for its shareholders. If the management of a corporation fails to create shareholder value and focuses instead on executing socially responsible acts, such as funding charitable endeavors, the shareholders can actually sue the company’s directors to steer them back on track toward profits.

Of course, many corporations promote their programs for helping social causes and charitable efforts in their communities or society in general. These programs are not prohibited, unless shareholders object.

The difference is, a public benefit corporation (PBC) contains a mandate, written into its Certificate of Incorporation, to balance the dual purposes of maximizing shareholder value and providing some specific, publicly stated social benefit.

The specific, publicly stated benefit must be clearly outlined; it cannot be vague and lofty. Examples of acceptable public benefits could be:

  • To devote 10% of profits to scholarships for college students who are studying to be elementary school teachers
  • To develop social programs in a specific community
  • To give away one out of ten products to an underprivileged person 
  • To sponsor activities of the Boy Scouts of America (or any non-profit organization you select)

You can decide which public benefits you want to support, but you should devote time and money to only a few, so your company's efforts are effective. Naming too many benefits can cause some trouble when it comes to assessing your performance. Most states require you engage a third party annually to assess your performance, make that report public. Delaware allows for a self-assessment report every other year; the state does not require you make it public but it must be distributed to shareholders.

Why Form a Public Benefit Corporation?

Why are entrepreneurs so excited about this new type of company? For one, today’s entrepreneurs want to balance profits with social contributions. However, there’s another big attraction: there are some major investment funds that will only consider investing in socially-conscious businesses, and they don’t want a vague commitment to a socially-responsible program, they want the companies they invest in to actually posess a legal mandate to provide a specific public benefit. Attracting investment capital from these funds is easier with a stated commitment.

Another good reason to form your corporation as a public benefit corporation is to attract sales from the 70 million socially-responsible consumers in the United States. It is estimated they control about $3 trillion per year in purchasing power.

Currently, there are about 400 public benefit corporations; they include well-known companies, such as Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, Plum Organics and Method. As of this blog's publication date, 20 states have passed an enabling statute to form public benefit corporations.

At Harvard Business Services, Inc., we are specialists in guiding you through the process of forming a public benefit corporation and will be happy to discuss the details with you. Just call, email or live chat with one of our customer service specialists today.

Read another Havard Businss Services, Inc. article on the Delaware Public Benefit Corporation.

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