Appealing Ideas from Social Media Guides

Lately, I’ve been inundated with newsletters and downloads about a “definitive” guide to social media. Although these are helpful, there is a lot of repetitive info about getting the process started. They explain what Twitter and Facebook is and the different functions, but what about some realistic tips that is helpful for everyone who aren’t newbies? How do I grow? How can I branch out and attract people? Here are some interesting ideas that I’ve come across. I hope it’s more interesting than generic recommendations out there.

  • Presentation and document sharing. .docstoc is one of many document sharing websites that allow businesses and professionals to spread their know-how. If your content is helpful, others will be willing to link to you as a resource!
  • More commenting. Nowadays, a lot of sites and blogs enable comments by signing into your Twitter or Facebook account. I like this feature because you skip the hassle of filling out info fields. It also gets rid of spammers and others who don’t have relevant comments to share. It’s a good way to increase your brand awareness on high traffic blogs like Social Media Examiner.
  • Photosharing on Flickr. As Rohit’s article discusses, photo sharing can be a great way to engage customers. With the right content, this indirect method is exciting and will tie back to your site/blog/business in the end.

I’m always on the look out for interesting tips, so don’t be afraid to share. Feel free to also connect with us on Twitter and Facebook!

The Key to Keywords Overview

Harry Brooks of Search First Internet Marketing moderated the PR Web webinar this morning with Kye Strance of Vocus. It was an educational overview of beginning the keyword process for PR campaign. These tactics can also be the starting point of your SEO or PPC campaign.

A Keyword Advertising Outline
There are three crucial steps that anyone should start with when organizing a keyword advertising plan for a press release.

  1. What is your goal – PR relation purposes or search engine optimization? You can easily have a mix of both by optimizing your content.
  2. Keyword or key phrase research. There are many free and paid programs but Kye gave these 3 examples. Google’s Keyword Tool, Google’s Wonder Wheel and Marketing Samurai. (Maybe it’s just me but I’m a little wary of downloading free SEO software).
  3. Publicize topic. What message do you want to send? Make sure that the content you release matches with your goal(s).

Organic Optimization for Relevant Key Phrases
Organic optimization is a great way to build a relationship with the key phrases that you want. But where do you begin? Whether you offer a product or service, there are hundreds of words (synonyms and misspellings) that can describe your business. As most keyword experts will stress, you want to hit the words that bring you: high traffic with low competition. This is of course subjective for your industry so don’t be afraid to do some snooping research on your competitors. Keyword research is more than just a technique as it becomes an ~*art*~ form when you add your own special touch.

Social Media + Innovation: When Is It a Business?

This Saturday, we attended the Cal Tech/MIT Enterprise forum about social media and innovation. The stand out speakers had to be Oliver Starr of Clean Green Guy and http://www.cleangreenguy.com and Oded Noy of Social Approach. A nice turn out for a sunny Saturday morning – we even spotted a frog at the Cal Tech lily pond!

Oliver is all about the people and not the numbers. As a long-time successful blogger, Oliver has had a history of providing engaging conversations. We must admit that his’ was the most interesting presentation we’ve seen in awhile! (You can try out this tool for free at Prezi). Some takeaways from his talk:

  • Focus on the individual
  • Expand your method of reaching out. Don’t just comment on the big blogs to self-promote, reply to other commenters and even visit their blogs
  • How can you use Twitter to add a personal touch? Comment, announce interesting events, give info and provide value

Eventually, Oliver would like to see more research about the new data gathered about social media. He predicts that location based social networks will expand and help people in their collaborative efforts. With more efficient tools, Oliver would like to see more spontaneous and integrated social gatherings. He likened it to going to a large venue and identifying the people with your interests. This way, you’ll be able to convene with them to have a more effective conference. Sounds like what we would all want and need, right?

Oded shared a similar point with Oliver as they both stressed the importance of a community of like-minded people. Oded brought us back to the days before technology when people would meet and talk over a campfire. Old school, I know.

  • Before: face to face interactions
  • Next: those with money (corporations) can buy a bigger platform to reach more people
  • Now: the internet has reduced the cost of self-publishing

The biggest question remains – how do you utilize social media to make money? Social media sites are a place for individuals to share in these conversations and seek out areas of their interest. It’s hard to say how and when you can convert this into $$$. All of the speakers on the panel agree that as much as it is cliche to say, “It really depends”, it really does depend on your individual situation. The sure thing is that once your social activity urges consumers to search and find your product/service, that’s when you acquire customers. That’s where business begins.

Thursday Topics: Over Optimization & Social Media Marketing

Optimization Strategies
What happens if you overkill your optimization strategy? I just saw a short interview clip with Matt Cutts on a SEOBook article about this very subject. Although Matt claims that you won’t necessarily get penalized, it’s obviously not ideal to over optimize. Google optimization is a delicate task and the key is to make your efforts look as natural as possible. This means doing away with duplicate content (your own and content “borrowed” elsewhere) and mixing up the keywords you use on a single page. If you feel like you’re using a particular word a little too much, you probably are. This not only looks spammy but it makes it annoying for your average reader.

Have You Checked in with Foursquare?
Whether you love or hate social media marketing, you’ll certainly be at a disadvantage if you ignore it. The internet is abuzz over the Foursquare phenomenon and that’s cool, but I don’t really get it. I mean I “get it” from a marketer’s point of view so I guess we’ll expand on that note. Like local search, Foursquare pulls in customers to drive business. But, how does it work? The jist of it is that customers “check-in” on their smart phone using the application to keep track of the various locations they’ve visited. Depending on the amount and variety of places you’ve visited, users can earn badges that showcase their accomplishments.
Interesting… but what’s the point? Social Media Examiner shows how businesses can implement loyalty programs and build relationships using the app. By using the ‘check-in’ feature, customers can take advantage coupons and promotions available for locals. It’s beneficial for all, so why not? Foursquare, and the lesser-mentioned Gowalla, are fun and engaging new ways to use location based services to connect with customers.

Reviewing 3 Twitter Tools

Twitter Analyzer

If you like seeing stats displayed by fancy 3D doughnut graphs, this is the tool for you.
It’s useful if you like to see how many of your followers are retweeting your Tweets. You can also enter the Twitter handle of a friend or competitor and see how their stats compare to yours. Things I learned: 78% of our followers are male and 23% of our followers are entrepreneurs.
No need to sign up, so why not try it out?

Tweet Stats

Sweet. More graphs! But Tweet Stats also shows a tag cloud of your  most frequently used phrases. It also gives you a density analysis that gives you a look at the times you Tweet most frequently. It’s easy to use but I definitely think it’s more informative than useful.

Twitter Counter

First, you need to allow this tool access to your Twitter account. Like Compete, you can compare your profiles with 2 other users of your choice. The graph displays are easy to read and you can even sign up to a weekly update of your progress. You can even go back as far as 3 months and see your stats from there. I think Tweet Stats is my favorite out of the three tools.

Do you have any other handy Twitter analysis sites you like to use?

Wednesday Webinar Overview: Keyword Research

Midweek already. Yesterday’s webinar with Gord Hotchkiss of Enquiro and Connie Stack of WordStream was about PPC Keyword Research and the B2B Buyer.

My favorite analogy that Gord used was that keyword research is best utilized when you do both quantitative and qualitative research. A quantitative strategy can be compared to looking at your dashboard and monitoring your speed as you drive. A qualitative approach would be more like looking outside your window. So in the end, effective keyword research (and driving) consists of both these techniques!

Connie mentioned a good point in her own experience with WordStream. Instead of just focusing on pushing their products/services, WordStream is also interested in the user experience, such as queries like “frustration with AdWords”. As buyers look for a proper balance in their search, it’s important for sellers to find an equilibrium point in understanding the user experience.

If you’d like to learn more about keyword research and read more about the fascinating eye tracking studies, Gord has a free PDF of his new book available for download on his site.

Coming Up with a Plan for Organic SEO

Do you ever come across the label, “One size fits all”? Not only is it frustrating but most of the time, it doesn’t even hold true! Instead of opting for a generic plan for tackling SEO, why not take the time to see what will work best for you? The biggest problem that many have is not knowing where to start or what efforts are enough to help your success. Although a reputable SEO company can’t guarantee your success, your hard work and consistency will pay off in the end.

Investing in Keyword Research
This is an important starting place. Maybe you want to set aside 5, 10, or even 20 keywords that you’d like to concentrate on. Instead of going for a wide variety of words, it can be beneficial to focus on some top terms if there is not a lot of competition in your field. The opposite holds true if you want to get more aggressive with your efforts. Lisa Barone wrote an easy-to-follow article for beginning your keyword research. With free tools from Google and unlimited online resources, there’s no reason for you NOT to get started today.

Moving Onto SEO Content
Now that you know what keywords you want to optimize, it’s time to focus on SEO content. It may be difficult to deliver a steady stream of relevant content. Many companies find it more efficient to enlist the help of copywriters who are knowledgeable in the field. Whether it is keeping up with industry news, voicing your opinion, or plain FAQ’s, these textual gems will help link your site to the significant keywords that you want to be associated with. Marketing experts can’t stress this enough – content is king.

Let’s Get Technical
Search engine optimization works to help your site gain more visibility. This doesn’t happen out of happenstance and you should familiarize yourself with the more technical aspects of organic SEO. Don’t know the difference between title and meta tags? Forget to add relevant keywords to your headings? Did you know you can even add alt tags to make your pictures more search engine friendly? If you aren’t utilizing these fields, just think of all the potential visibility you’re missing out on!

Intel’s Advertising Overhaul


Listened in to a webinar this morning with Corey Carrillo of Intel Corporation and Craig Macdonald of Covario about Paid Search and Big Brand Marketing: How Intel Coordinated Search Into a Global Ad Campaign. Most of the time, I find that big corporate presentations are kind of dry because they only cover really general topics and give broad details.

Anyways, Corey admits that Intel is lacking in their brand power presence when compared to Dell or HP. They began an overhaul of their advertising campaign which portrayed their engineers as “rock stars”. Across video, online, email and other advertising platforms, Intel used the same format with familiar characters. This gave their new image a consistency. I personally like these new ads and how consumers can relate.

Consumers seemed to enjoy these ads and found them entertaining. BUT… when directed to the landing page, customers quickly bounced. Like we’ve talked about before, this landing page looked really cool and was flash based. From the consumer point of view, it was too slow loading and they weren’t finding what they were looking for. After a simpler revamp, Intel’s ad campaign improved. They tested, measured and learned from their mistakes and it’s something we all can learn from.

As Corey reminds us the 3 most important things he considers when it comes to a paid search campaign:

  1. keyword selection
  2. ad creative used
  3. landing page

Lesson learned: Integrating your SEO and PPC campaigns are easier said than done, especially for big corporations.

Band Websites: Improving Bad Website Design

Ok, so your favorite band doesn’t suck but what about their website? After browsing some sites, I found that many artists, bands, labels are missing the point when it comes to good search engine friendly website design. Besides being esthetically unappealing or having a loop of the same blaring songs, these bad band sites also share other similarities:

Overdoing the Flash
Super long to load on slower internet connections and it can be really annoying. Yes, we’re looking at you, The Strokes (and tons of other bands). Your site may be fancy and look really cool, but it’s 100% flash dependent. Flash sites aren’t indexed by Google and you can’t add any keywords in your content. More popular bands are just lucky that they don’t need to rely on this as they’re already getting traffic from fans.
Instead: A little flash here and there is fine. You want to concentrate on engaging and informative keyword rich content. You should also put a little time into your link building strategy and incoming links.

Just Too Much
As an artist, you want to accurately convey your image to your fans. Because of this, many artists go overboard with too many pictures, too much text, too many widgets and just way too much clutter. Lady Gaga’s bio is an eyesore with a page full of CAPITALIZED white text on a black/grey background. Surely, no one will really care to read this except for the super fans.
Instead: Have a section that is short and sweet. New fans want to get straight to the facts. You might want to include a more detailed bio page or even include a video to accompany the reduced text.

Ignoring Your Fans
Many band sites that aren’t updated frequently are static and dead. With Twitter, Myspace, and Facebook, band members are finding it easier to update on the social media platforms. Don’t forget about your site! Fans want to stay in touch and just small updates here and there will make them feel special. NIN is especially known for their fan interaction. Their website features a members area, an extensive photo gallery and even an area where you can mix your favorite songs.
Instead: Use Analytics to see where your fans are spending the bulk of their time. Are they interested in your lyrics, merch, or media? Now that you know, integrate a blog, photo blog, or even your social media profiles to appeal to those likes. Even a simple band Q&A once in awhile will help your website from dying out.

These are just some of my peeves, any other tips for bad band websites?

Tips from a Site Reviews Webinar

If you have an SEOmoz Pro account, you can submit your site for review and they just might include it in one of their upcoming webinars. There were about 100 people on the call and it was nice to see something different – analyzing user submitted websites. It’s a change of pace from other webinars who use Zappos and other big companies that make it hard for small businesses to relate to.

Definitely learned a lot from today’s webinar. Very useful info and I’ve bookmarked some tools for future research. These are definitely some things that you want to consider looking into:

  • Use Open Site Explorer to check the link popularity for your site
  • Learn how changing your meta tags strategy can be beneficial
  • Consider promoting embedded graphs or graphics as a way to get some link love (like Mint)
  • How to use hashtags to connect to more than one anchor link

The favorite part of these webinars is the Q + A section. I found it helpful that Rand Fishkin provided links and resources during the call. The chat box also allows attendees to directly communicate with each other. An hour and a half is a bit long for a webinar but I’m definitely looking forward to more helpful resources.