Just Attended: Social Media Club

Last night, we braved the rain and made it to join, “Social Media: Getting it Right in 2010”, with the Social Media Club of San Gabriel Valley. Moderated by Sally Falkow, the panelists included: Dana Chinn, James Macpherson. and Jessica Gottlieb. With good people and good fudge, what more could we ask for?

In about 2 hours, a wide array of topics were covered. It started out with what’s changed in the media. Nowadays, you small businesses can take advantage of bloggers to monitor your brand and listen to what customers want. No doubt, the theme of the night was to measure your efforts and adjust accordingly. Just because we’re talking about social media marketing, doesn’t mean that you should throw the basics of marketing out the window!

Useful Tips and Takeaways
– When it comes to social media, you don’t necessarily need to be everywhere. Utilize the right platforms that will work with your overall goals.
– Make use of location-based review sites: Foursquare and Yelp. Listen and be nice to your customers!
– Don’t forget to be engaging. Leave comments and interact with your fans and friends frequently.
– Communicate your passion. Chances are, there are many readers out there who share your enthusiasm for certain topics. Even if they don’t, your excitement is a great way to bring them in.

All in all, it was a fun and informative night. Looking forward to more of them in the future!

Just Attended: Writing for the Web in 2010

We love TopRank Online, so I was thrilled to catch a webinar with Lee Odden this morning. The topics were of new strategies to make better use of SEO tactics in online press releases and vice versa. So much to absorb in 1 hour and there was little time for questions at the end. Anyways, here are some important things that I took from the presentation:

Starting out with SEO Basics
As Lee puts it, “If content can be searched on, then it can be optimized for better performance in search”. However the definition of SEO is changing nowadays. You can make the most of your resources and you can also optimize your video, images, and even audio. As always, we emphasize that this is possible through relevant content and links. They are your friends and don’t forget it!

More SEO Tips
– After you have compiled a keyword glossary, use a keyword tool to target your audience more efficiently.- Keyword placement is up for debate, but Lee recommends that the important ones are placed upwards towards the top
– Optimize your content for your readers first. Then, you can go back and make adjustments to make it more search engine friendly. (Doing it the other way around!)
– Don’t overlook the importance of using keywords in the title, subheading, and text body. The title is the most important place for your keywords to be. At the same time, you don’t want your content to be overflowing with keywords. It helps to use variation and synonyms to make your piece more visually appealing and easier to digest. In a normal 500 word press release, you’ll want to use a targeted keyword around 2-4 times.

Making a Press Release Work
Traditionally, you may think that a press release is just a type of announcement. An online press release is so much different, in that you can do more than just pitch a message or event. You’ll want to inspire a call to action, whether it is having readers click through to your website, add you on Facebook, or make a call. You can direct them to a landing page for optimization analysis. Think of a press release as more than a one-time thing. A credible piece may be passed along by journalists, readers, and bloggers. With your links in place, a press release can be a very valuable investment and asset.

Social Media Things to Keep in Mind

Going Overboard

Twitter. Facebook. YouTube. Blogger. Tumblr. WordPress. Vimeo. MySpace. People can tend to go a little overboard when it comes to social media nowadays. It’s not a bad thing to be everywhere, but you may be spreading yourself thin. Instead, examine the right platforms for your campaign. Having a Twitter or WordPress is pretty useless you’re active. No one said it was easy, but it does take time and effort.

Overlooking Google Profiles

With all the profiles you currently have, who as the time to consider their Google Profile? It is always worthwhile to take advantage of free resources to make sure that your latest info is updated. While Google may have failed with Orkut, they have many social innovations that have grand potential. Google Wave is a favorite among web designers and other busy professionals, while Google’s What’s Popular is looking to rival Digg. There are new social media sites coming out all the time, but it’s especially worth it to keep your eye out on Google products.

Someone’s Always Watching

A little creepy? But yes, we should all be a little more careful with our personal information on all these social media sites. It’s common sense and yet, it can’t be reiterated enough! Facebook’s founder recently claimed that we’re no longer in the age of privacy. According to Zuckerburg, he would make all private info public, if he launched Facebook today. Although many oppose his remarks and Facebook’s recent privacy changes, the best we can do is guard our online identity. Another sketchy source came out saying that Facebook knows who you stalk. Not sure how you guys feel about all this, but I just like to be aware of what’s going on.

5 Link Building Tips

Link building is an effective way to bring traffic to your website. The more traffic and quality interactions you get, the better your Page Rank will be. Instead of quantity, it’s time to reevaluate the quality of your links. Here are some methods that you can utilize to benefit your business:

  1. Submit a press release. The purpose of a press release is to announce your new website or upcoming events. PR websites will distribute your release to different online news outlets, while allowing a greater control of what demographics to target.
  2. Embrace social media profiles. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more. There are so many social communities where you can insert a link to your website.
  3. Protect your online reputation. When you get requests for link exchanges, make sure you carefully research the site. You don’t have to accept every request – it’s okay to say no.
  4. Share useful content. People will always appreciate info on a relevant or interesting topic. Whether it’s just random blogging or a more serious subject, be an expert in your field.
  5. Stay relevant. Don’t forget to demonstrate your knowledge and submit to relevant websites and blogs. It’s easy to get distracted, so stay on track!

Video Marketing for a New Decade

Why Video?

Why read about it, when you can see it? 2009 has definitely been the year for video marketing. With more YouTube views than Google searches, what can you do to ensure that your video won’t be lost in the crowd? You can’t just throw together a video, throw it on a video-sharing site and expect business to roll in. Nowadays, you can attract viewers to your website by integrating videos for certain topics. Whether it is a welcome video, virtual tour, or helpful tutorial, videos are a riveting way to compliment your content and glorious web design.

Tips for Successfully Using Videos

Are you using video to its full potential? Even though we are coming up in the new decade, chances are that most of your competitors are not taking full advantage of using website video. Here are some helpful tips you should keep in mind for optimizing your videos:

  1. Embed and share – From viral videos, trailers, to informative video clips, you’ll benefit from being able to share your videos with an embeddable feature
  2. Using the right format – There are countless video formats out there (FLV, MP4, AVI, etc). Using the most popular ones will make it easier when editing and viewing.
  3. Accurate tracking tools – What’s the use of your video marketing efforts if you can’t see how they’re helping you? By measuring your performance and the impact of each new video, you’ll be able to better your assess your progress.
  4. Video seo – Did you know that videos are 53 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results than text pages? Utilize tags and keywords to make your videos more visible.
  5. Be consistent – If you plan on integrating a lot of videos across your website, make sure to present a reliable message. Don’t confuse your customers or make promises that you can’t keep.

Not only is it a brand new year, but we are embarking towards a new decade. Why not do something good for yourself and your company?

Who Uses Facebook’s Marketplace?

New and Improved

Earlier this year in March, Facebook re-launched its Marketplace that is now powered by Oodle. If you haven’t heard of it, the Marketplace is a classified ads section where users can list and respond to advertisements. The Marketplace gives users the ability to buy, sell, and trade all their goods with other Facebook users.

Marketplace Features

So, who really uses the Facebook Marketplace? You may have seen friends trying to sell their used chemistry books or their extra phone. But, did you know that there’s also a section for housing and free stuff? That’s what’s so great about this application. Originally created in 2007, the new Marketplace is revamped with a user friendly interface. While it is like Craigslist in its free listing of classified ads, but it also integrates an important social factor that Craigslist lacks. Wouldn’t you rather buy something from a friend or a friend of a friend than a complete stranger?

Seeing the Potential in the Marketplace

Marketers are warming up to the market place as they see ease and convenience of its features. With every listing, you can promote the sale of your goods and services by adding pictures, putting it in an appropriate category and even sending out personalized messages. Such custom settings make it easier for those looking to buy and sell real estate. Because Facebook thrives on the social thread, word of mouth will still be important. If your friends have had a successful transaction with a certain seller, they’re likely to spread the word. Before you brush it off, not everything on Facebook is a time-waster. In the past, Apple has even posted a listing looking for iPhone engineers on there!

5 Social Media Tips for 2010 Webinar with Sally Falkow

Just attended a great webinar moderated by Sally Falkow. Here’s an overview of some great tips she focused on:

1) Use news feeds to push and pull your content.
Make use of RSS (really simple syndication) to push info on your site. From blogs to content pages, search engines look favorably on your links when they show up in news feeds. On the plus side, news feeds can expose your content to new audiences and give your site more traffic.

2) Monitor what’s said about your company.
Whether it’s using Google Trends or a service like NetVibes, it’s important to stay updated on who’s saying what about your company.

3) Measure the effectiveness your social media efforts.
Using Google Analytics, you can track where your traffic is coming from. If your bounce rate is fairly high, you might need to update your content and make it more user-friendly. Make the most out of these tools to measure all your social media and marketing efforts.

4) Use a branded video player.
Video views on YouTube are exploding as users are rushing over to the site over Google for their search needs. By using a service like Veeple, you can track real-time analytics of viewers watching your videos.

5) Integrate a social media newsroom into your website.
It’s a great place for bloggers, journalists, and readers alike. With a newsroom, it’s convenient to organize all your press releases, videos, pictures, and testimonials. Having ‘connect this’ buttons (like Digg and Twitter), makes it easier for readers to share your content.

Stay tuned for the next webinar in January!

Effective Copywriting for Web 2.0

I recently read a magazine article describing the profession of copywriting as “sexy.” After giggling for half a second, it dawned on me that “sexy” was just the right word to use. Copywriters, through the power of the written word, are responsible for “seducing” their audience. They have the fun, yet daunting, task of generating interest and then developing that interest to lead to some sort of fruitful relationship, not unlike the dating world. And, just like the dating game, the rules have changed.

The more information that technology makes readily available to consumers, the less time these consumers have to spend on any one particular product, service or idea. The attention span of the average web user has steadily decreased as the barrage of online information continues to overwhelm human senses. With this in mind, the web copywriter must truly embrace the concept of “less is more.” Relevance and credibility are still important principles to keep in mind when writing content, but Web 2.0 consumers now want relevance and credibility…in cliff notes format. A great example of this trend is the micro-blogging phenom, Twitter. Twitter’s popularity and success is a smack-in-the-face realization that web users’ tolerance for information has been Mini-Me-ed down to 140 characters!

With that said, here are some key guidelines for downsizing a seven-course meal of content into a snack-size bar without losing the essentials:

1. Listen to data: Conduct A/B testing on different versions of headlines to determine which works best.
2. Waste not, fluff not: Don’t make claims you can’t support. Consumers can smell a phony sales pitch a mile away!
3. Forget “short and sweet”: Just keep it short. Jargon, hype, gimmicks are all unnecessary sugar-coating. Give them what they want to know.
4. Know your audience: This one seems obvious, but is worth repeating. Write copy that speaks in a voice that your target market, not only understands, but listens to.
5. Format for easy reading: Use headlines, sub headlines, short paragraphs, lists, and an eighth-grade reading level. Have your 13-year-old read the copy. If he/she doesn’t “get it” by the time their attention is lost to a new YouTube video, it’s time to rewrite!

Results are in for Cyber Monday 2009

What’s the Big Deal?

With the post-Thanksgiving excitement of Black Friday, do you ever wonder how Cyber Monday sales compare to its popular counterpart? First of all, some consumers may not even be familiar with the term, as it was recently coined in 2005. For online shopping enthusiasts, Cyber Monday refers to the first Monday after Black Friday. During this time, retailers scramble to entice shoppers with a hungry appetite for deals. Although critics have slammed this virtual holiday as an overrated marketing gimmick, retailers can’t complain about the increase in sales that they’ve been experiencing.

Shopping Insights

– At first glance, the fervor created by Cyber Monday may seem too good to be true. Upon closer inspection, hardcore shoppers may be totally disappointed. Really, how good of a deal is free shipping or 10% off your overall purchase? Some criticize retailers for luring buyers in, but offering no real deals.
– Have you ever wondered what your productive workers are really doing? Research shows that about 57% of online purchases were made from the workplace!
– With so much internet traffic, online criminals are preying on easy targets. Here are some helpful tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of these increased cyber crimes.

A Takeoff That’s Soon to Level Off?

According to analysis of 2009’s Cyber Monday, research shows that sales were up almost 14% from last year. Consumer demand seems to be thriving and retailers are just as willing to take advantage of the situation. Although these numbers are awesome in the short-term, opponents question the effectiveness of this so-called holiday in the long-run. Some retailers may even be diluting the anticipation of their Cyber Monday sales by offering deals during November and even extending promotions until December. It’s only a matter of time before we can accurately assess the staying power of Cyber Monday. For now, feel free to browse but think twice before you make that purchase!

Twitter for Customer Service Success

Do What Now?

From shameless self-promotion to broadcasting tweets about everyday things, there is no doubt Twitter is a place to be social. But, what about turning to Twitter as a way to promote good customer service? This is exactly what some companies, like Best Buy, are doing as a way to extend their customer service efforts. It may sound silly or confusing but in the end, it makes sense. Twitter and other social media platforms are attracting your customers, so why would you ignore this segment? With a team of technology pros, Best Buy’s Twelpforce is readily available to assist consumers with any questions and give advice that can help them with pending decisions. Best Buy has even invested in numerous TV spots to help spread the word of their Twelpforce.

Strengthening Your Weak Areas

Some commend Best Buy for their breakthrough marketing and customer service efforts, as they will surely set an example for others to follow. But this idea did not arise from nowhere, as Best Buy has been lacking in the customer service department in the past. Just Google “Best Buy customer service” and you won’t be surprised to find these gems: “Best Buy, worst customer service”, “Best Buy Customer Service is a Joke!”, “Best Buy Embraces the Suck” and more. This is not what any company or individual wants to hear. By utilizing new social media potential to create powerful tactics, Best Buy has found an effective way to strengthen their weaknesses.

A New Trend for 2010

According to the Harvard Business blog, customer service via Twitter is a trend to look out for in 2010. It’s a mutually beneficial plan as businesses will benefit from a cost effective measure that will leave their customers happy when they get the help that they need. Additionally, Best Buy’s Twelpforce is a unique way to build their brand. Their Twitter account is decked out in the signature blue and yellow with a sea of smiling employees. If that isn’t an image that a successful corporation wants to convey, I don’t know what is! Although the Twelpforce is not yet a year old, I think that Best Buy is taking a step in the right direction when it comes to nurturing passionate employees and gaining loyal customers.