Category Archives: Social Media

Social Media Marketing

7 things to look for in a Social Media Specialist

Social media is still the Wild West to some extent, and a lot of us are still figuring out the rules. One thing is clear: Social media is here to stay.

Therefore, your social-media manager or director is a critical and strategic hire who will be responsible for formulating and executing your strategy, as well as educating your whole organization and aligning it with that strategy.

But a lot of people who claim to be social-media experts are far from it. How can you sift the wheat from the chaff?

Below are the seven killer virtues of a social-media leader. There are certainly more, but not all are deal makers.

1. Passion

Passion for the job is an important characteristic of any employee, but it’s fundamental for a social-media manager. Many public relations and marketing folks use social media, but they aren’t passionate about it.

Social media goes 24/7, so you need someone who can live and breathe it without burning out. A good social-media manager will have the drive of a sales representative but has a light touch that influences people without appearing to “sell” to them.

2. Credibility

Social media is not a silo. You need to balance technical skill with business acumen. Research the candidate’s professional credibility in your particular industry.

The social-media manager will become one of the “faces” of your company, so you need someone with a broad business background and a grasp of marketing, sales, operations, P&L, product management, business process, and customer relationship management.

3. Strategy

Because social media is fun, many people can get caught up in using it without a clear purpose. If a social-media program is implemented companywide, it can become a big time investment.

Therefore, it’s vital that the social-media director provide leadership for senior management as well, ensuring that they buy in to the program and understand its goals. Strategic, big-picture thinking coupled with a willingness for shirtsleeves implementation is a must.

4. Service-orientation

Because social-media managers are the face of a company, they need to be relentlessly committed to helping people in social channels. Customer service should be part of that person’s DNA. Customer interaction is not a bother; rather, it’s something to enjoy, it’s the new marketing.

Customers, partners, prospects, and analysts will need help and advice around the clock, which puts the social-media manager in a unique position of acting as an advocate for the company and brand, as well as the community.

As an advocate for the community, the social-media director helps the company design better products and services, leading to happier and more-loyal customers. And when the products and services are better, the social-media director can evangelize on the company’s behalf in a more natural way.

5. Risk-tolerance

The social landscape is changing at breakneck speed. The social-media leader must be comfortable with constant change and course correction.

Because many social efforts are in uncharted territory, the perfect social-media manager will be the proverbial self-starter, a true pioneer, unafraid to head into the darkness.

The social-media leader can’t wait for directions from the boss, since the boss may not know as much about social media. And if there’s a failure, the social-media leader must dust off and start all over again.

6. Decisiveness

It seems as if there’s a new social-media product every other day. Social-media practitioners must keep their tool set full of sharp new tools, but they need the wisdom and experience to recognize which trends have lasting power and which are ephemeral.

It’s also crucial that they commit to social-media programs and stay with them long enough to evaluate their success or failure, yet be willing to jettison what isn’t working.

7. Action hero(ine)

As noted earlier, change is the only constant in the social-media world. To say that the social populace expects real-time action is an obvious statement.

Although creating quality content is important, it’s equally important to avoid “analysis paralysis” or get caught in an endless loop of approvals.

If you wait to publish a blog post or tweet, it will be yesterday’s news tomorrow. The social-media director must strike the right balance between perfection and action, with action being paramount.

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Five Tips for Writing Search-Engine-Friendly Content

Words of wisdom from the Whole Brain Marketing Blog

Five Tips for Writing Search-Engine-Friendly Content

You have a great website. It has beautiful images, a compelling theme and intuitive navigation, all designed to take eager visitors to complete descriptions of your proprietary products and services. The only problem is your website shows up somewhere after page 10 on search engine results. Since most referrals to sites come directly from search engines, search-engine-friendly content is imperative.

Here are five tips to make sure search engines love you and your prospects can find you.

1. Clearly identify your SEO goals. SEO isn’t about ranking first on every area and page on your website. Rather, the goal should be to incorporate search-engine-friendly content that performs well on the most important “money phrases.” These are areas that you’ve identified that typically lead to additional action by visitors and prospects (or, make you the most money!).

2. Choose Important Keywords. Using your “money phrases,” identify and analyze a list of possible keywords that users may search to find your information. The word “keyword” is a bit misleading because this list should not be individual words. Try to develop very specific phrases that relate to your topics. For example, if you sell doors, your keyword shouldn’t be “doors,” that’s too vague. A better keyword phrase would be “aluminum exterior house doors” or “solid core wood doors.” search-engine-friendly content will flow simply from expanding on each of these phrases.

3. Organize your content. After you’ve identified the appropriate keywords you want to use throughout your site, group similar keyword topics into silos. Using the doors example above, silos may be interior doors, exterior doors and garage doors with the specific types of each category being grouped together. This also simplifies your website’s architecture if it isn’t already in place.

4. Write for the audience, not the search engines. The actual content writing itself becomes an art of balancing the technical needs to make the search engine spiders happy and the clear, concise, benefit-focused information needs of your audience. When in doubt, err on the side of your audience. Search engines may love you but if your content isn’t attractive to your visitors and they choose to leave your site, all your work is for nothing. Write page copy with enough specific keyword density to be search-engine-friendly but not so dense that it becomes meaningless. After your first draft of copy for each section is written, use one of the many density tools available to evaluate each of your pages. A good rule is 3-5% saturation on each page.

5. Expand the reach of your keywords. After you’re satisfied with your content and your keywords are loaded into title tags, meta descriptions, H1 tags, etc. Focus on driving inbound links from reputable sources. For example, make sure your search-engine-friendly content is included in all of your PR activity and encourage media outlets to link to you. Strive for inbound links direct from industry resources or organizations. The more links to your site, the more important you’ll look to search engine spiders.

Keep in mind that your results won’t be instant, they’ll improve over time. Search-engine-friendly content is just the start.

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How Google Instant Will Impact Your SEO & PPC Campaigns

The introduction of Google Instant means that searchers can constantly refine their query without actually clicking on the “search” or “enter” button and still get a concrete list of better & faster results. However, many are trying to figure out what effect Google Instant will have on their businesses and are asking “is SEO dead?” The answer is simple: “Of course not.”

Google Instant does not change the ranking process of Google’s search results (says Google engineer, Ben Gomes). However, SEO techniques are continuously changing and although Google Instant Search will not kill SEO, there might be a few changes to your SEO strategy.

How will Google Instant affect your SEO/PPC strategy?
Google Instant will now change how many people see and click on your site because for all you know Google Instant could be persuading searchers to enter a completely different keyword than what they had actually set out to search for.

The first major change is in the drop down “suggestion box” that tries to predict queries even before they are completely typed. Depending on the query, the search result occupies one and sometime up to three of the advertisement positions on the first page. Google is bringing the paid and universal search listings as high as possible, but is simultaneously pushing the SEO results “below the fold.”

So you need to plan out your SEO strategy keeping in mind:

  • Your page Titles are going to need to be even more compelling than before.

You need to not only attract the searcher to your listing, but you have to get them to commit to the search query. That’s going to take a lot of engagement on your part.

  • Take a close look at what long tail keywords Google Instant suggests.

Make sure you have a page ranked for all the important variations. Show up, no matter what final keyword string the searcher commits to.

Top ranking is now more important than ever.

Users are less likely to scroll below the fold as related results are instantly reconfigured as the search query is completed.

Good & bad news for PPC advertiers:

Google’s Johanna Wright says there will be no change to the ranking of ads under Google Instant, however ad impressions will change (for the better). Google will now record an ad impression if a searcher types a partial query and clicks within the search results page or if he stops typing for three seconds while an ad is displayed. For PPC campaigns it will calculate as an impression (affecting CTR) only after a pause of three seconds.

Showing PPC ads on “predictive queries” that may or may not be relevant to what the user is ultimately searching for could push down the click-thru-rates of these ads.

Here is what Google’s Advertiser FAQs say:

  • When someone searches using Google Instant, ad impressions are counted in these situations:
  • The user begins to type a query on Google and clicks anywhere on the page (a search result, an ad, a spell correction, a related search).
  • The user chooses a particular query by clicking the Search button, pressing Enter, or selecting one of the predicted queries.
  • The user stops typing, and the results are displayed for a minimum of three seconds.

At an average of 9 seconds per query, that’s 2 additional add impressions before a customer actually tells Google exactly what they are looking for. This should give your business even more exposure to searchers.

While Google Instant is great for searchers by giving them faster results, it will certainly pose a challenge for business owners and search marketers.

by Courtny Mills of ineedhits

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SEO and Page Rank

Someone asked me yesterday, “What do you think of PageRank?”  That’s kind of asking “What do you think of sunshine?”

Google is the 800 lb. gorilla.  PageRank is part of their “secret sauce” in determining how your site pops up in organic search results.  PageRank just IS – it’s part of the SEO game.

You might not agree with Google as to what is relevant; you might not agree as to what is timely; you might not agree as to what is popular; and you might not like sunshine.  However, what can you do?  You have to play the game if you want to be high in the search results.

The rules change all the time – on purpose.  Just as soon as you think you have it figured out Google will tweak their algorithm and you go from the #1 result to the #10 result.

SEO is the physical fitness of your site.  You can’t go to the gym once and work out for 30 minutes – then lose 30 pounds – and become the fit “Mr. Universe.”  SEO takes constant work (i.e. – working out). You have to keep tweaking your site and your strategy to keep up with the tweaks that Google makes in their algorithm.

Finding someone to help you with SEO and Social Media Strategy is like hiring a personal trainer to help you get fit.  In getting personally fit you can read a book and follow the diagrams and see some results taking place in your physique.  However, if you REALLY want to see results you hire a personal trainer who will take into account your body type, your diet, your goals and your budget (time and money).

So if you REALLY want results for your company find a certified professional who will take in to account ALL your marketing needs – it’s called Integrated Marketing – bringing all your “traditional” marketing channels together with all these “new” digital opportunities.

One size does NOT fit all – think of me as a digital tailor.

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SEO Link Building

I just received an unsolicited email from somewhere in India.

1) The #1 red flag – it is addressed Dear Sir/Madam
2) The #2 red flag – the bad grammar

This “feels” like one of those Nigerian email scams.
Here is what it looked like:

Dear Sir \ Madam,

We are a fast growing INDIA based Web Development Services company.

We provide complete Natural Link Building Solution in professional Internet Marketing Services with our core competency.

We have a dedicated team of 35 professionals to serve you. Our Link Builders who specialize in getting theme based targeted links for Client’s website.

Our Link Popularity Building Services is designed to increase your traffic and link popularity.

Our links are direct and search engine friendly as we do not get links which are with redirection script or with indirect.

We provide you one way link building with following essential parameters

Be careful – your web site is one of (if not THE) most important marketing tools you have.  There are many “black hat” companies out there that will make exorbitant promises about driving you up to the top of the search engines.  DO NOT fall into the trap of Dear Sir / Madam emails – you could seriously damage your site’s reputation.

Remember, any thing worth doing is worth doing right.  Most of the time it takes time and patience to drive you up in the search engines.  Link to credible sources and people you know.

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50+ is the HOT Social Media demo

At times like this I love to say, “I told you so!”  Those of you who have been reading my blogs and/or have attended one of my workshops will NOT be shocked by this news. Social Media use within the 50+ demographic has nearly doubled according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project.  In April of 2009 just 22% of the 50+ demo were using sites such as Facebook – in May of 2010 that jumped to 42%.  In the 50 – 64 demographic 47% are using social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.

The results I obtained through the research I conducted for the University of Texas – Dallas Ph.D. program for the School of Arts and Technology were also reinforced by this study.  “Young adults continue to be the heaviest users of social media, but their growth pales in comparison with recent gains made by older users,” said Mary Madden author of the Pew report. “Email is still the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, but many older users now rely on social media platforms to help manage their daily communications.”

This proves that Social Media is NOT all about 18-24 year-olds.  You have to:

1) Develop an Integrated Marketing Strategy.  How are you going to bring together your “traditional” marketing channels (TV, Radio, and Print) and these “new” digital marketing channels (SEO, PPC and Social Media)?

2) Think about WHO is going to “quarterback” your marketing department or company down the digital field – a “walk-on” quarterback from a Division II school OR an All-Pro who knows what it takes to find your target customer and make your cash register ring.

I’m sure there are marketers with a few grey hairs that have experiences similar to mine. I’ve been involved with eCommerce since the early days of the Internet.  I’m certified in SEO and Social Media Strategy.  I’ve seen CRM evolve from a mailing list for postcards and coupons to psychographic databases for targeted digital inserts.

I’m sure there are CFOs that started with a ledger book and a calculator who are now using complex back office software programs to balance the books.

We have a saying here in Texas, “Fish where the fish are!” Make sure you have an experienced “fishing guide” to teach you the right bait to use.  Look for someone who “has been there, doing that.”

That’s the News
From Clint Hughes

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Social Media Etiquette

Being an SEO and Social Media Consultant is like being a doctor – whenever you go to a party people pull you aside and ask you how to cure their ills.  It is “the Wild West” out there right now – a lot of “snake oil salesmen” profess to be experts and make promises that can not be fulfilled.

SEO and Social Media are the physical fitness regimens of your corporate marketing body.  You can’t get off your couch after years of inactivity and run a marathon.  You can’t magically start an SEO and Social Media Strategy and jump to #1 on all the search engines.

Let me give a quick overall answer to one of the questions I am asked most often – “What do I say on the Social Networks?”

Here’s is what happens:
Imagine the Social Media world as a big high school reunion/family reunion/neighborhood block party.  What would you think of someone who went around interrupting every conversation trying to sell anyone who would listen a “super magic drink?” People would tune them out and then before long run away whenever that person approached.

Social Media is like that.  If you are constantly trying to sell to anyone/everyone who might be reached by your Twitter Feeds, Facebook updates or blog, people will tune you out!

Here’s the general rule of thumb:
90% of your Tweets and updates should be informative and/or conversational – 10% should be self promoting.  Go back to the reunion/party theme: if you have interesting stories and helpful ideas people will engage you in conversation – your social networking is working.  If you ONLY talk about yourself you become a pariah.

You might ask – “What do I say? How often do I say it? I don’t know where to start!”  Like a doctor would say, “Stop by my office for an exam and we will run some tests. I’m sure you will be fine.”

So go to my contact page and it will send me an email OR call me – my phone number is right there at the top of the page.  Relax, now you have a professional “captain” to help you navigate the choppy seas of social media.

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Secrets of SEO

  

The Secrets Of SEO

 There is so much information floating around out there about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how to get some rankings. So much of it is contradictory and confusing.SEO Secret # 1: There are no secrets! 

The search engines make it all very public and clear what you need to do to get top rankings. The success lies in the details and proper implementation. But there is no top secret, proprietary technique for getting top rankings. secrets, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t information you need to know, such as:1) If you don’t optimize your site, you won’t get top rankings.
2) Your site structure matters!
3) Don’t just focus on small keyword list that is made up of the most popular and competitive keywords.
 

It really is that plain and simple. If the engines can’t spider your site and you don’t have links and strong content, you don’t stand a chance against the sites that do have all that in place. So many people don’t want to spend money on SEO, or are afraid to take the plunge but then they can’t understand why they don’t have rankings. So maybe there is a secret – maybe the secret is take action and get your site optimized! I can’t tell you how often people have said to me “I know my site is a mess, but I don’t want to spend the money fixing it, so can’t you just throw up some keywords and Meta tags and get me some rankings?” Ummmm, no, I can’t. Your site structure is your foundation. You would never build a house without a solid foundation, why would you build an SEO campaign without a solid foundation?  

You will be missing out on opportunities for great keyword phrases that convert really well. Expand your list. Include long tail phrases. They may have less traffic but they will convert at a higher rate and if you get enough of these phrases they will likely add up to be better than your original list.  

 SEO is changing and evolving so staying current on what the engines are looking for is important. Either hire a firm to get you top rankings or find a way to make sure you stay current with information you can trust.  

Social media and SEO go hand in hand – truth is there is a lot of competition out there for website traffic so why not use all the tools at your disposal? 

 Get out there and be social. You can optimize your site without doing social media, and you can do social media without an optimized site. But why would you? The two enhance and compliment each other. Focusing on SEO without focusing on conversions is a mistake. 

You are going to work so hard, or pay someone your hard earned money to get you top rankings. You can’t afford to ignore marketing issues. Make sure your site is going to convert all that great new traffic you are going to send to your site.  

Google Webmaster Tools and your web stats are a goldmine of information.

Make sure you take time to see what words people are actually using to find your site and see what people do once they get to your site. See how many people link to you and which of those sources are driving traffic. Find out if there are errors on your site. There is so much information to be analyzed; you just need to make the time to check it out.  

Successful SEO requires time, patience, skill, knowledge, persistence, attention to detail, knowledge of HTML, current information and an understanding of marketing helps too – then you can write the best possible text while using the keywords well, and it will also help you write compelling Title and Description tags….OR – the willingness to invest in a professional firm to get those top rankings for you.  

SEO requires time, patience, skill, knowledge, persistence, attention to detail, knowledge of HTML, current information and an understanding of marketing helps too – then you can write the best possible text while using the keywords well, and it will also help you write compelling Title and Description tags….OR – the willingness to invest in a professional firm to get those top rankings for you.  

SEO requires time, patience, skill, knowledge, persistence, attention to detail, knowledge of HTML, current information and an understanding of marketing helps too – then you can write the best possible text while using the keywords well, and it will also help you write compelling Title and Description tags….OR – the willingness to invest in a professional firm to get those top rankings for you. 

  

   

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SEO Training at eWomen Network

On July 16th I had the opportunity to teach SEO at the 10th Annual International Convention and Business Expo of the eWomen Network.  It was a great crowd with attendees of all expereince levels.  I was surprised at how many of them handled their own site’s Seach Engine Optimization.

I reiterated the most important aspects of SEO.
1) Page titles – you have about a 66 character limit for your page title.
2) Meta Description – This is your “billboard” on Google and other search engines. You have about 155 characters for this section.
3) Meta Keywords – whereas most search engines have started to ignore these they are still somewhat important.
4) Body copy – be sure to incorporate your keywords into your body copy.

For more information contact Clint Hughes at clint@clinthughes.com.

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