Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’

Just because the Cobbler’s children have no shoes, it is no excuse for you

Friday, August 20th, 2010

When it comes to SEO, content that is regularly updated is a MUST. I know what you are thinking, “yeah, yeah, you’re one to talk”. True enough but just because I have not been heeding my own advice of late does not mean that it is not sound all the same. One of the keys to any successful SEO program is regular updates. Just like with a city, you can lay all of the scalable infrastructure you like but if you do not do anything to maintain what you have created all your good work will eventually break down leaving nature to reclaim your land. The same is true of your SEO and you don’t want all of that effort to go to waste. You spent time researching keywords, optimizing your content, and tagging all of your images but unless you are regularly updating your content your rankings are slipping day by day while your competitors, who are updating their content regularly, are slowly but surely erasing your existence from the top tiers of “The” List.

Competition is fierce for decent Google placement and you need to make sure you are doing everything you can to ensure you stay where you belong – at the head of the pack. So what should you be doing?

  1. Update – In order to maximize your visibility you should be updating your content at least once a week (although in this case more is better). Why do you ask? Because as I may have mentioned before, the more often you content is updated to more often the search engine spiders come back and more opportunities you have to push your competition down in the rankings while boosting yourself up on their backs at the same time…this is what we in the marketing business call a Win-Win Scenario. A blog is the perfect vehicle to help bring the Win home.
  2. Diversify – Make sure that you are not putting all of your eggs in one basket. Make sure to make your updates work for you by making use of Social Media in your update process. Don’t just blog it and forget it, make sure that Tweet about your new blog posting and update your Facebook to reflect the information as well (and don’t stop there, you can keep telling two friends across a multitude of other social media networks like Digg,, Technorati and more). This allows you to kill multiple birds with one stone and there are tools out there to help you automate this process. So essentially, all you would need to do is update your blog and you are able to multiply the impact of that single act across multiple networks, hitting multiple audiences (and overlapping with some) with your efforts ultimately culminating in higher search engine rankings to boot. And all it took was setting aside 30 minutes a few days a week. What a Bargain!
  3. Rinse and Repeat – I may have mentioned this before, even in this posting, but it does no good to lay the foundation and leave it out from the elements. Set aside the time to make these updates on an ongoing basis and your results will build over time with not only higher Search Engine Rankings but also with higher conversion rates.

You don’t want to get left behind and you certainly do not want to be playing follow the leader. You know what they say, if you are not in the lead, the view never changes so get out in front and see what is out there.

Leveraging the Overlap between SEO and Social Media

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Whenever you set out into new online marketing territory you need to make sure to consider the old when developing the new. Whether you are venturing into blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Technorati, or any of the other myriad of social media outlets out there you need to make sure to always maximize your exposure. There are multiple ways to do this but whenever possible it is always best to get back to basics.

No matter what you do with your online marketing, the rules for SEO remain the same. The structure of your URLs in your social media endeavors are just as important as they are with your website. The more keyword rich your URLs are, the higher these items will rank on your chosen keywords in the search engines. Optimize your URLs to not only be descriptive on their own but to also include keywords that are used in the title and body of the content to further enhance your keyword density.

Keyword Density
As with your website, in order to maximize your exposure, you need to make sure that your social media content is keyword rich. Using the same keywords that you are trying to rank on for your website will give you additional links in the search engines that will help push up your rankings on the information you want out there. Not only that but while you are at it, these same social media entries will help push down the rankings of anything negative that may be floating around about your company, products or services. The more real estate you control in the search engines (with positive information of course) the better off you will be. So the more areas that you are pulling from to populate those listings the greater your chance of success in achieving the rankings you obviously so richly deserve.

Multimedia Content
Multimedia is an often overlooked area of SEO. And while it does not do as much for you as keyword rich content, it is a great way to increase your visibility. Using multimedia content in your social media posting can add a new dimension of ranking within search engines by expanding your rankings to not only work in regular website search listings in Google, Yahoo, Bing and more but also in the media listings those same search engines already offer for images, audio and video. At the same time this type of content helps open your site up to some of the media specific search engines out there like PicSearch , Blinkx and PodScope that you may not have otherwise been able to breach allowing you to increase the link popularity for your site.

The basic premise here is that when you move into other areas of online marketing, you should always remember lessons learned and try to apply them wherever you go. Leveraging this overlap between social media and SEO will enhance your SEO results and allow you to maximize your exposure.

Maximizing Your Social Media Impact

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

When you set off to make your mark in social media there are three things that you can do to help maximize your impact.

  1. Know your audience
    As I may have mentioned in previous postings, the number one thing that you can to in any marketing endeavor, online or off is to know your audience. Knowing who you are talking to with your communications will shape the information you provide along with the manner in which you provide it. The best way to do this is to sit down and create analogs of your target customers with everything from age and gender to marital and parental status. There is a reason why so many marketing research firms are located in malls and are constantly trying to entice unsuspecting people into their lair where they are forced to answer lengthy questionnaires. The information matters, plain and simple. And that information helps businesses like yours shape their marketing messages and even the manner in which the messages are delivered and that includes social media.
  2. Be a resource
    The best way to build an audience and enhance your exposure with social media is to provide information that your audience will find useful. Don’t use your social media outlets just as a veiled way to push your products or services. It is certainly ok to mention your products or services here or there but that should not be what it is about. Strive to Become a thought leader in your chosen space. Becoming a true resource that offers value to your audience without expectation (whether through informational blog postings, ebooks or other free resources) can have great side benefits to your business. Offering free resources on topics close to you helps build relationships with your network. These types of relationships foster evangelism among your network that can turn into an unpaid salesforce for your products or services.
  3. Have a conversation
    The idea behind any good marketing program is to start a conversation that will ultimately end in a sale. Blogging as well as using resources like Facebook and Twitter can be the best conversation starters in the world. Open up communication and be willing to hear feedback from your social network. Everyone can see the value in good feedback, but you need to take the good with the bad because you never know where things will lead. Never underestimate the power of conversation. You might get some negative feedback about your company but you can turn that negative feedback into a win depending on what you do with the information. Someone relating a negative experience may give you insight into issues that may effect more than the single individual. No only that but it can afford the unique opportunity to act to change the underlying issue and turn a negative experience into a life long customer that in turn can become an evangelist for your products or services.

Whichever way you decide to go in the social arena whether it be blogging, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, or any of the other budding networks out there as long as you keep in mind that social networking is less about you and more about your network, then you should be a in a pretty good position to maximize your impact.

Making Your Identity Work for You

Friday, April 30th, 2010

An important part of any company is a cohesive brand identity. This is an area that is sorely lacking in many small businesses. Sure, their print collateral is tied to their print ads but does that design identity follow to their website? Maybe, but in most cases that is where it stops. Once people start venturing into social media they just take what they are given identity be damned and that is a huge mistake. It is important to make sure that while you are venturing into new and different areas with your marketing efforts that your brand is working for you.

Even if you have had your print identity in place for years, as you venture out into new areas it is always a good idea to take a look at everything and make sure that everything is still relevant. The one main constant with any identity is going to be your logo but you need to look at the whole package to make sure that the image you are portraying will still make sense if it is transmogrified into a different medium. Your primary concern should be with anything that might have a direct counterpart in another medium (brochure, sellsheets, ads, etc).

Marketers often fail from an identity perspective when moving to a new medium because of “shiny and new” syndrome. Often marketers abandon a well thought out identity in favor of bells and whistles associated with the shiny new toy. With as important as it is to ensure that your print identity is relevant to new mediums, it is equally important that your web identity conform to your existing standards. You can still make use of the new toys (insofar as they are relevant) but you have to temper that with the grounding of an established brand.

Social Media
The most ball dropping on the identity front these days is done with social media. As I said before, some businesses have their print and web together act together but rarely do you see equally clean integration of social media. Some companies have forayed into blogging but are still using the default design settings or tired templates that have absolutely no relationship with their existing brand (assuming they have bothered ti even brand with a logo). At the same time they are using the default theme in their Twitter profile and have not taken the time to “Pimp” their Facebook fan page (and yes, it will always be a Fan page to me, but that is another post…) with as much as a logo.

These seem like very small things but when it comes to your company identity, all of the different areas really matter. If you have one look in print, a totally different look on your website and then the defaults for your social media presence, what kind of message doe that send to your client/prospect? I will tell you, it says you have no real direction and that kind of negative “vibe” can have very real effect on your bottom line.

“New” is great, and it is good to make use of everything available for marketing your company but you need to make sure that the message you are putting out there is cohesive. There is a reason why fortune 500 companies use identity guides for their marketing efforts. They are designed to ensure consistency in communication no matter who is doing it. It is all about thinking it through from the beginning and executing from a well-considered plan.

Now it is time for you to take a little stock. Line up your marketing channels and see how you fare. Are your print materials in-line with your website, have you taken the time to make sure your blog and Twitter theme are consistent with those other more established areas? If not, there is no time like the present, after all the customer you save could be your own.

It is your identity so in the immortal words or Tim Gunn, “Make it work, people!”

Getting your feet wet in social media

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

With social media, as with many things, it is best to wade in slowly and get used to the water rather than just heading straight for the high dive and hoping for the best. There are many places where you can get your feet wet and it is best to just choose one or two to start and see where it takes you as you begin to develop your full social media plan.

One of the biggest booms in Internet development recently is blogging. One of the reasons for this boom is accessibility. There are a number of FREE platforms out there including WordPress, Blogger, TypePad and more) just waiting for you to decide to post but the real trick is how to make the most of it. There are many ways to start blogging. Some experts suggest that having both a personal and a corporate blog is the way to go but that can be a bit overwhelming for a novice user (or even an experienced one for that matter). I would recommend starting small and work your way up. The trick with blogging is the content. You don’t want to use it as a platform simple to push your products or recent press. The best use for a corporate blog is to use it as a forum to establish thought leadership for your company in your industry. If you start talking about things that holds both yours and others interests, it becomes a win-win. You will have a place to discuss things that are important to you and while you are at it you can begin to develop a following that sees you as an authority on the topics you discuss which can lead to great things for your company.

Twitter has bust into the scene was the place to go to learn about just about everything 140 characters at a time. If you asked any grow of people you run across you are likely to get widely varying opinions that run the gamut from “who cares what you had for dinner last night” to “this is the best thing to happen to me in years” and everything in between. But what the nay Sayers neglect to see is that as with many things in life, Twitter is what you make if it. If the only people you follow are home bound relatives, then your experience is likely to be poor, but if you follow people you find interesting, your experience will drastically change. Twitter offers the ability to mix a little more business with pleasure. You can follow industry luminaries while at the same time being able to hear what happened at that party you missed. It is a great platform for sharing blog postings (like this one @GraphicTechniq for those who are interested), PR for all the great new happenings with your company, product information, personal observations and you can even “re-tweet” interesting things put out by the people you follow.

Facebook is the ultimate online social gathering. Where else can you connect with family and catch up with people you have not even thought about in 20 years? But Facebook offers a great deal for business as well. Companies can set up “public” profiles that allow you update your “fans” about what is happening with your company (you can check out the <a href=”″ target=”_new”>Graphic Technique</a> page as an example). At the same time, Facebook provides a perfect platform for customer interaction that fortune 500 companies pay big bucks to get. Interactivity is the key here. Facebook is the best example of a place where social media should be a two-way street. Offer valuable information to your fans and take their comments and use them to help you improve your products or business as a whole.

Pod Casting
Pod casting is a good way to distribute additional audio and video content such as interviews, presentations, product demonstrations, conference panels and more. And if you have regular content like a radio show or the like, you could get your audio content added to iTunes so it is very easy for your followers to find, and even synchronize you to their iPod. For video content you could set up your own channel on YouTube for easy access and these are all things that you can cross promote with other social media avenues.

There are many more social media outlets out there beyond these basics. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to determine which of these individual options (or combination there of) makes the most sense to your business. And once you figure that out, unlace those shoes, peel off those socks and come on in…the water is fine.

Zen and the The Art of FREE in Social Media

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Giving out “Freebies” to potential customers is nothing new in marketing. From the sausage lady at the grocery store to the guy at the trade show throwing t-shirts to anyone he can see, businesses have been using the art of the FREE Gift as a means to a sales end. Social media is no different. One of the best ways to attract new leads is by giving people a reason to want to get to know you. If you offer something of value at no charge and without expectation, you can begin to develop a following of people with similar interests and some of those interests may be you.

Harnessing the power of this age-old technique sounds easy but there are some things that you need to know before you put your offer out there.

  1. Create a Welcoming Environment
    Before you even consider a giveaway you need to do a little housekeeping because the real trick to this ancient art is retention. You can entice just about anyone with a free giveaway but you want to make sure that after the luster of the FREE gift has worn off, the recipients of your generous gift want to stick around. Making sure that your website is pleasing to the eye and easy to navigate will instill a level of comfort in your giftees to be and if you top that comfort off with appealing content you will be well on your way to reaching that “sticky” goal.
  2. Make it Useful
    Making sure that your FREE gift is useful is another way to keep people coming back for more. Don’t just put something out there, slap an interesting title on it and “Dup” people into cluttering their hard drives with a bunch of specially packaged uselessness. If you are looking for more than just the fly-by-night internet surfer who thinks anything free is where to be, make sure that what you offer can have real use made of it. I am not saying that you won’t get those types of people showing up with their hand out as soon as they hear you are giving something away, because you will. But making something useful helps ensure that you will attract more serious people who will be more likely to stick around after the giveaway is over.
  3. Provide Quality
    Just because it is FREE does not mean it should be “cheap”. Make sure that what you offer has value. Offer something that people would be willing to pay for if you were not giving it away. Offering this type of premium product for FREE will serve to enhance the value of your other content and if people like what they see, they will be inclined to come back for more and then you will have them. At that point you will either be able to sell them on your other offerings or make use of them as evangelists for your brand.
  4. Offer Value
    I know what you are thinking, this is free, how much more value do I need to give them, right? Well, value means more than just cost. If you are offering a product, it should not be on an “As Is” basis. Be willing to offer some level of support for the product, after all this kind of customer interaction is exactly what you were looking for when you got into social media in the first place. Taking the time to answer simple questions or help people with bugs will go along way toward solidifying them as a potential customer, product evangelist or at very least a valuable marketing resource that you can go to when developing new products or services to offer in the global marketplace.
  5. No Strings
    Many offers out there require people to jump through hoops in order to get the FREE product but in my experience, this often has the opposite effect. You will either end up with people giving you fake information or they will take one look at the requirements and leave, never to return again. Now it is not uncommon to have people register on a mailing list in order to get the FREEBIE because in these cases, building a list is the whole reason for the offer as well as the basis for the interaction you seek. The best option when possible is to give away your FREEBIE with no strings attached, but if you are going to require anything for people to get their free gift, make it as simple as possible. Name and Email address should be more than enough (and for those of you truly in the global marketplace, country might also be a good item to capture). The bottom line is, the fewer restrictions that are placed as obstacles in the way of your intended audience the better.

With these little nuggets of wisdom in mind, go forth and create the perfect FREE item that will help you build your audience. And as you establish your following you can begin developing new ways to maximize the results for your social media objectives .

Social Media Best Practices

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

You’ve heard all the buzz about social media and now you want to throw your hat in the ring, so where should you start? You cannot throw a mouse these days without hitting a self-proclaimed expert on social media but with all the conflicting views on how things should be done the best place to start is to get back to basics with a few simple social media best practices.

  1. Create a Plan
    It may sound like a very simplistic practice but you would be surprised how few people actually consider a social media strategy prior to embarking on a trek through this brave new world. Making sure you understand your audience, the different ways in which to reach them, and the tools that are available for your intended purpose are key to social media program.
  2. Be Committed (No straight jacket required)
    An effective social media program requires a great deal of time and the commitment to see things through. If you commit yourself to properly developing your social media objectives, that commitment will be rewarded with measurable results for your social media programs. I am not saying you need to hire someone specifically to run your social media programs, especially in the beginning, but if you play your cards right that position may just be needed down the road to handle this new channel for your business.
  3. Be Honest
    Transparency is not just for window anymore. Be upfront about your objectives. People appreciate honesty and are willing to get involved as long as they do not feel like something shady is going on. Being disingenuous can make for a very lonely social media existence. Provide honesty and value with your interactions and you will be rewarded with loyalty and valuable feedback.
  4. Become an Enabler
    Encourage interaction with your social media followers. Their insights and feedback can help drive your business in new directions or reinforce the vector you are already on. Beyond that, this type of interaction allows you the unique opportunity to turn followers into evangelists for your brand creating a type of unpaid sales force that is ever willing to sing the praises of your greatness whenever the opportunity presents itself.
  5. Make It Count!
    Social media objectives should be easily measurable to help determine the efficacy of your programs but keep in mind that social media programs build on each other. Unlike traditional marketing techniques, in social media there is not always a unique result for each facet of a program. Layer your programs with small objectives that will build into a more measurable one. While the ultimate goal may be increased interaction or sales, you have to build up to them with smaller objectives like number of comments, friends or even how many people just DIGG what you have to say.

Any social media program should be carefully considered before it is executed but keeping these simple guidelines in mind as you go through the process will help you on your way to developing a winning social media strategy.

Effectively Managing Social Media

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

When developing your companies social media strategy, the first thing you need to determine is your company philosophy (for lack of a better term) for its use. Many old school marketers (as well as self-styled social media mavens) push the idea of social media simply as an additional channel for positioning a brand but it can be so much more. Don’t get me wrong, this type of social media marketing has its uses and on its own can yield the awareness and support you seek but it should not be the end all be all of your strategy. It should be but a part of a more comprehensive immersion that can affect the company at a cellular level (and no I don’t mean phone).

Think globally, act socially.
Think of social media as an extension of your company rather than simply another way to advertise. Social media puts you in direct contact (most of the time) with your most involved consumers and this is contact that should not be wasted. Take the opportunity to not only talk about your new products and how wonderful your company clearly is but to get direct feedback from those active customers. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter can create focus groups for you without all the mess of standing about in malls handing out surveys. You can talk directly to the people in the best position to tell you something about you, that you don’t know (or may not want to hear). The point is this type of feedback, if taken in the spirit it is given, can help drive product advancements, fix problems you didn’t know you had and open your eyes to new markets you had not specifically started to tap with your conventional marketing efforts. In short, social media can help your company evolve to the next level if you are only willing to put in the time to see where your consumers are pointing.

No matter what business you are in, you can always benefit from interaction with your customer base. Explore this new channel to its fullest extent. Don’t limit yourself to just another advertising channel that may or may not bear any fruit. Build a cohesive strategy that combines keeping top of mind with the valuable interactions that this medium allows. Get your customers (and prospects for that matter) involved in your business. Ask questions and make serious use of the answers you receive.

Customer involvement is the key.
Whether it is simply getting the opinions of your new unwitting focus group participants on new product options using a survey or more involved personal interaction with a select few customers that seem to speak well for the larger group (good or bad), once you get those individuals involved, they will begin to have a vested interest in the company’s success that will manifest itself with evangelism to everyone they know.

The bottom line is the depth of connections that result from properly handled social media can lead to exponential growth in your target markets in both sales and goodwill.  So take the time up front to fully consider your plan and make sure that whatever you decide to do includes a combination of awareness and interaction. It may take more time to maintain than simply doing some old school marketing but in the long run your business will be better for the effort.

What’s the deal with Social Networking?

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

If you are not living under a rock and do not rely on the “Trash Heap” to give you the latest news of the day, then you have probably heard the term “Social Networking”. And while it is all the buzz on the internet, many people are unsure of what it is exactly.

So what is Social Networking anyway? Well, Social Networking, in general, occurs when individuals interact with other like-minded individuals in a social setting. But the definition of the term has morphed somewhat in recent years to refer more specifically to Online Social Networking which is the same but with a (cyber) kick. Online Social Networking occurs when these same individuals come together through various member access mediums to chat, share photos and generally connect online. There are many things online that can be considered to be social networks but for the purposes of this article we will confine the definition to connecting with individuals through things like Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In.

Ok, I get it but so what, isn’t that stuff just for teenagers? Well, not exactly. Although many of the largest social networks initially catered primarily to high school and college students, times they are a changin’. Now you will find a great cross-section of society getting involved with social networking because of how convenient it is to stay in contact with friends and family along with re-connecting with old friends that you lose touch with over time. The median age of your average social networker has been steadily climbing over the past few years. In fact, in 2008 social networking outstripped email in overall reach with 66.8% of internet users accessing member communities online compared to 65.1% for email.

So what does this really mean to you? Well as a business owner, you have an opportunity to take advantage of all this virtual water cooler milling. Make hay while the virtual sun shines. With the proliferation of these groups and their ever-increasing depth of connections to others, your message can go viral in no time at all. And the SEO potential is staggering. If you can reach one person at any of these online watering holes, that message can potentially be carried infinitely as well as being picked up by your favorite search engine with yet another golden link to your website. Think back to your favorite shampoo commercial. You get one persons attention and they’ll tell two friends and they’ll tell two friends, and so on and so on…

So how do I do it? The key to effective social networking, like with may other things, is planning. If you come up with a solid strategy for your business or product, you can hit them over and over without them even knowing it. And remember, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. The best part about social networking is that the networks themselves can interconnect to reinforce your message. Make sure that any strategy includes multiple points of contact.

As I stated before, there are a number of popular social networking sites out there but I will focus on some of the most popular:

Facebook is the quintessential social networking site. Anyone who is anyone online is on Facebook in some way shape or form. Any business or product can set up what is known as a Fan page on Facebook. It is essentially an online profile for you business that allows you to post messages, upload photos, share success stories or even have discussions with clients and potential clients. It can be like having your very own conference room in the ether where you can post the latest information about your products and services or share your success. And the best part is that when you post a link or even just make a statement about your business, it automatically shows up in the news feed that your “fans” spend their time with every day. It is a great way to keep top of mind with current and potential clients.

Twitter is a micro blogging platform that allows you to send updates to your “followers” 140 characters at a time. It does not seem like much, but it is enough to drive traffic to product information, blog postings or to inform “followers” of events. These quick postings are called Tweets. It is used by many as a means of communicating what they are doing “right now” but as a business medium it is growing daily to help connect businesses with potential clients, value added resellers and vendors.

Linked-In is the only one of the networks I have listed that was specifically intended for business use. You can add a complete profile about you and/or your company and then you can connect with people you have worked with in the past or present. The people in your network can then connect you with people in their network who are looking for someone in your field. The connections can get pretty deep so it kind of becomes like the 6 degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon but with potential business connections and who knows, maybe even Kevin Bacon himself.

Now that you are setup with your accounts, don’t simply rely on Linked-In,Twitter, or Facebook alone, use them in concert to make your messages sing. There are applications available that will allow you automatically post your Facebook Fan page status to your Twitter account (or vice versa) and Linked in will also display your tweets. And if you really want to melt your brain, set up a blog and set it to update Twitter, which can then update Facebook and Linked-In thus allowing you to post a single piece of content related to your business and have it reach multiple levels of people on multiple networks all at the same time…now talk about a Breck Shampoo moment.

The biggest thing to keep in mind when developing your Social networking strategy is that you have to update regularly to see any impact form your efforts. Social networking is not a fix it and forget it type of meal. This is the type that requires a candy thermometer and patience while you stir and stir to make sure that it doesn’t get scorched.