Archive for April, 2012

10 social media ‘facts’ we need to stop believing!

  1. You have to be on every social platform, the minute they come out.
  2. You have to tweet X times per day, have X status updates per week & connect with X people on LinkedIn
  3. A social media blunders can’t happen to me/my brand.
  4. If you don’t have over X thousands of fans/followers/subscribers, you’re not doing it right.
  5. Just blogging awesome content will get you tons of readers.
  6. The only way to get anything out of a facebook page is to allow random people to be your friend.
  7. Social media ROI can only be measured through sales increases.
  8. Only big brands can afford to do social media, it’s too tough for small businesses to manage
  9. Automating any part of social media makes it inauthentic
  10. The only way to get social media to work is to promote yourself all the time.

Want to help get these myths dispelled for yourself AND learn how to use twitter, facebook, pinterest or linkedin more effectively? Check out the launch of a new Social Media Training series! I am partnering with Marie Riddle (@LivinLime) to help get you started, or take you to the next level, across all social spectrums. Our first classes are coming up in less than a month…so get registered today and Ride the Social Media Wave for Business

Using Pinterest: Everything AND the kitchen sink you’re dreaming about.

I’ve waited for awhile to write a detailed post about using Pinterest. Not because I don’t think the site is incredible (because it is!), but because it is so amazing I felt I needed to spend some real time and effort into the site before I wrote about it.

Attraction

Let’s start with the whole attraction to Pinterest. I think it stems back to childhood. Remember making ‘dream boards’ as a kid? Cutting pictures of cars, clothes, homes, quotes, etc, out of magazines and pinning them to a cork board in your room? It was your special place to imagine what could be, motivate you to stay focused or plan for the future. And it’s that concept which has made pinterest just so amazing – and why I think the majority of the users are still female (68.2%).  But, just because there are so many female users doesn’t mean the site can’t be successful for men, or a male dominated brand. Men are just as visual as women, but it takes a little more convincing to draw them into a site, which until early 2012, was more about dream weddings than dream man caves.

Time

One of the most important reasons Pinterest is succeeding is that they have been able to capture time. In a battle for attention, the sites that can keep their users engaged the longest are going to win. And the average time any user spends on Pinterest is 15.8 minutes, which is 3.7 minutes longer than people spend on Facebook! Facebook is absolutely still the powerhouse site (845+ million users…) but it’s no surprise “Pinterest is now the 3rd most popular social networking site behind Facebook and Twitter” – Experian Digital Report, 2012.

Scrutiny

Of course, with any social platform, it faces scrutiny. In Pinterest’s case, it’s over the copyright of images. When you pin an image to a board, it links back to where you pinned it from. But, many users simply do a search for images they want and pin it directly from the search. The problem is, then the link is back to google images (or whichever image search is used). This means that the original creator is not getting credit (or traffic) from the image and you’re breaking copyright regulations. While this can be a huge issue, it’s an easy one to avoid and make sure you are in copyright compliance. How? When you find an image that you like, find the original source! If you find the image through a search engine, or on someone’s blog, look for the original link (or a name of the original creator). It’s not always possible to find the exact creator, but as long as you’re linking to where you discovered the image (and it’s not a search engine url), you’re doing it right. Oh, and if you find an image and pin it without the original link but find the link/creator later, you can update an image to fix the link. To do so, go to the image you want to edit on your pin board, mouse over the image and then click ‘edit’. There, you can change the link, description and even which board the image sits on (without losing any repins, likes or comments).

Personal

As a personal user, Pinterest can be whatever you want it to be. You have the power to share however and whatever you want. One warning: Pinterest is a public site, and attached to your name. While you many not think it matters what you pin, I suggest not pinning anything you’d be worried if your boss, potential employer, or mom, saw. I have seen so many people pin images that were not only rude and inappropriate, but changed my perspective of them as individuals. While some things may seem funny at first, it’s important to really think before pinning something with derogatory commentary or profane language. Know the risks associated with connecting yourself to certain images or websites, and make your decision with the future in mind.

Brand

From the brand standpoint, pinterest is an incredible platform too, but the audience base is even more fickle and less accepting of advertising than on any other site. Use it wisely, creatively, and with the focus on driving interesting content. The most successful brands using the tools pin their own images, but also have a multitude of boards dedicated to other unique content that isn’t theirs but that their audience would appreciate. Collaborative boards can also be a great tool for large companies to really feature their team and individual personalities. The important thing to remember for brands, is that just like twitter or facebook, pinterest needs a unique strategy that fits with the ettiquite of the platform and makes users want to engage.

Get Started

For those who haven’t gotten onto the platform yet, here’s your 6 step quick start guide (for those who have, skip down to the final questions):

  1. Leave me a comment on this post with your email address and I will send you an invite (it’s still invite only, but users get unlimited invitations).
  2. Sign up, choose your user name, upload a profile image and biography (I recommend matching it to your other social profiles so you’re easy to find).
  3. Create your boards. You are given a few to start with. You can open the board and re-name the ones they give you, as well as create new ones. To change the name of a board, click on the name of the board, then click ‘edit board’ button under the name. You can also give the board a description and category so others will know what to expect from that board.
  4. Visit the Goodies section and grab the ‘pin it’ button to put on your bookmarks bar. This will allow you to easily ‘pin’ an image from almost anywhere on the web. It’s easy to install on all browswers, and the instructions are fully outlined on that page.
  5. Surf the web (I love using stumbleupon to find unique pages and images). Once you find an image you like, click the ‘pin it’ button you’ve already added to your browser bookmark. A small second window will open with the image, a drop down list of all your boards and a description box. Select the board you want to pin it on, add a brief description (140 characters is about the most I recommend), click pin and watch what happens.
  6. Of course, one of the big pieces is re-pinning interesting content others find too (that’s the ‘social’ part). All you have to do is find an image you like, mouse over it, and click the ‘repin’ button. Again, select the board you want it to go to, either leave the description from the original pinner or change it to something you prefer and click pin.

What are your thoughts on Pinterest?

  • Are you using it only on a personal level or as a brand (or both)?
  • Do you think it will continue the incredible growth rate or plateau?
  • What is the best/worst parts of Pinterest?
  • How do you think the platform could be improved?

What makes social media justifiable for your brand?

YOU know your brand needs to get into social media, or become more active in it, but you can’t convince the C-level. How do you justify social media? Well, you could break into facts, figures and lots of explanation on how social media can benefit your brand…or you could simplify it with this:

Google+ changed its look…and no one made a sound

Google+ is a powerful social site, it’s a force to be reckoned with, facebook should be worriedblah, blah, blah.

You know how I know that Google+ isn’t any of that?

Search “google+ layout changes“, you get 1,510,000 results.

Search “facebook layout changes” and you get 44,400,000 results.

Add these staggeringly low search results to the fact that no one is writing posts threatening to leave, complaining about the changes on twitter/facebook/linkedin, creating comics or internet memes about it…and it doesn’t look good for the platform.

For those of you who DO use Google+, or are thinking about using it and want to know what changed, Google did a solid overview from the personal use aspect (however, the video is fully lacking in the business use explanation):

If you’re not using Google+ already, will the changes make you check it out?

If you’re already using Google+, what are your thoughts on the changes for usability?

Modified Tweet vs Retweet: Which style wins?

*Rockem Sockem Robot image & likeness owned by Mattel

You find an incredible article or tweet that absolutely must be retweeted. And you need to add some commentary before it to clarify why it’s worth reading. But when you add your thoughts, the tweet becomes too long. So, you modify the initial tweet a bit, keeping the same meaning but giving yourself a few more characters to play with.

Would you now use the somewhat-new term MT (modified tweet) or stick with the tried, true and recognized RT (retweet) before the start of the original tweet?

Discuss:

Category: Social Media

Ryan Jones – SEO’s most eligible bachelor?

SEO – it’s a pain in the tuccus, and for most of us, it’s a really scary concept. So, I figured why not crack it open on one of the ‘scariest’ Friday’s of the year…Friday the 13th!

So, I bribed Ryan Jones, one of the amazing people I met at Pubcon last year, to let me virtually interview him and share some of his tips on SEO.

  1. What is the 140 character version of why SEO matters?

    SEO matters because there’s people out there looking for you and you want to make sure that they find you. yeah it’s exactly 140 characters.

  2. How does Google (or any search engine) judge your content?

    This is a great question and I’m actually doing a whole talk about it at SMX Toronto this month – so if you’re there please come say hi. Search engines are judging based on usefulness of the content from the user’s point of view. Sometimes we get so focused on our SEO lens that we forget SEO’s are only a fraction of one percent of all searchers. We’re not the ones that the engines are designed for. Typical users don’t know anything about paid links, cloaking, keyword density, or link wheels and they don’t need to. All they care about is whether or not the 10 blue links answered their query. That’s what Google and Bing are going for. I can get into all this quality rater stuff but won’t. We’ve covered that to death. When writing content, most people start with “ok how can I rank for this term?” They’re doing it wrong. They should be asking “when I search for this term, what would I expect to see?” and then writing that content.

  3. For people who have just started blogging…what 3 things can THEY do to help their SEO without any code knowledge?

    Only 3? For starters make sure you pick a good platform. It seems like everybody’s on wordpress these days and that’s fine. The best way you can help without code knowledge is to slowly acquire that code knowledge without even knowing it. I’d advise anybody to host their own blog (it’s really easy to set up. You can basically do it with just a mouse) and go from there. By hosting your own you’ll slowly get acquainted with many areas of SEO throughout your day to day blogging. WordPress and the plugins solve a LOT of problems for you, so I’m not going to mention the things that can be easily fixed. Instead, make sure you put time and effort into your URL structure and title tags. The default URL structure of most blogging platforms is terrible. You’ll want to choose the one based on the date and post title if possible. Same goes for titles. You don’t want every page of your blog to start with “Ryan’s Blog about SEO”

  4. What is the best SEO plugin for wordpress?

    Best plugin huh? I’d have to give mad props to Yoast’s plugin. (http://yoast.com/wordpress/seo/) I’m also getting pretty fond of frameworks like Genesis and Thesis. (I use genesis on my blog at dotcult.com) WPtouch is another one I can’t live without. It automagically re formats your blog so it works nicely on mobile devices – and it does so in an SEO friendly manner.

  5. What is the worst piece of SEO advice most people think is true?

    Wow, I could write several paragraphs on this one. Off the top of my head: we need to stop talking about keyword density. There’s no magic number and if there were it would change for every keyword based upon the the keyword density of every other result in the algorithm. Believe it or not there’s actually a huge amount of research about this in the information retrieval field, but luckily for us Google has evolved from counting occurrences of words into trying to figure out the relevance and importance of words on the page. Writers should just make content that sounds good and uses the proper keywords. That whole thing about once in a header, once at the top, once in the bottom, that’s all garbage too. Write for your readers and use the words they’re expecting. If it sounds easy and too simple it’s because it is – yet several of us still don’t do it well.

    Another thing I heard just this week was something about having 100 links on a page and too many KB of source code. That’s all outdated information. There used to be a time when Google would only index so much of a page (hey, storage space was expensive in the 90’s and early 2000’s) but that’s just not true anymore. Unless you’re doing something crazy like trying to make a one page version of Wikipedia, you shouldn’t really worry about how long your pages are or how many links they contain. Just do what makes sense for the users.

  6. What is so special about Google that they get to make the rules?

    Quite simply it’s Google’s house so if you want to stay you’ve got to obey their rules. Often times their rules aren’t made with regard to SEOs. They’re made in order to help provide quality search results to users. It goes back to those SEO glasses we all wear. If you look through the “searcher who’s never heard of SEO and doesn’t know how the web works” glasses you’ll realize that most of the rules make sense. I’m not saying you have to obey them all. Sometimes it’s best for your brand not to, but you can’t get upset if Google penalizes you for doing those things. They’re just trying to do what’s best for their brand (and customers) too.

  7. And one ‘just for fun question’… When will the world end?

    Google’s search results say it’s going to end on December 21, 2012. If you believe that, I’ll give you $100 now if you post date a check for your life savings to 12-22-2012. Deal? Personally I think the Mayans couldn’t find a bigger stone and figured they’d worry about it later. (kind of like we did with the Y2k bug or the upcoming 2038 bug that we still haven’t fixed) Instead I’ll give a fun, philosophical answer and say that the world will most likely end when the observer at the end of time gets bored with watching us, turns off his TV, and goes outside.

You can also find Ryan on twitter @RyanJones. Ryan Jones is an SEO Idea Engineer and Internet slang expert living in Allen Park, MI. Ryan works at SapientNitro where he manages a team doing SEO for Fortune 500 clients. Ryan runs several websites and is a social media junkie. Oh, and I can vouch for the fact that he’s an awesome guy too!
What is the biggest struggle YOU’VE faced trying to integrate better SEO on your site?

Buying Facebook Fans…is there no GOOD way?

Buying Facebook fans, it’s a bad idea, right? Well of course! You pay some off-shore vendor on elance or craigslist and you get a certain number of fans – 99% of which live in an entirely other country and have zero interest in your brand.

But what about buying Facebook fans the right way?

Huh?

Facebook advertising, while it has a much catchier name, is technically still buying fans. But in this case, you’re buying extremely targeted, likely interested in your product/industry and often willing to engage fans. Which is where the key difference, and success, lies.

Say you are a MMA fight brand (an industry I have worked with) that sells gear and clothing to both professional and amateurs in the sport. Your ideal audience is a specific dynamic, and a definable demographic. You can use that information to create a Facebook ad targeted specifically to people who are most likely to by your product – and be interested in your page. In addition, you can widen your search to people who would potentially be fans of the sport based on other interests that they have. Finally, Facebook allows you to set time restraints on your advertisements. This means a brand can specifically target times of day as well as the individual.

There are two big keys to remember that make Facebook ads so phenomenal:

  1. Facebook ads are not a one-to-one click costs. If you create an advertisement that focus on the right audience, one click can convert into multiple fans very easily. For example, in one campaign we ran during a specific promotion, we spent an average of $35/day and paid $0.45 per click. Which means we should have gotten about 77 fans per day, right? We actually got an average of 120 fans per day, all who were within our target demographic! Why? Because when John Smith liked the BrandX page, his friends saw his ‘activity’. And some of them clicked over to the page from him and then liked it as well. The inherent traits of Facebook and its newsfeed meant that BrandX gained an average of 55% more fans per day…for free.
  2. Facebook ads are not a long-term commitment. You can test them for a couple days, a week or even a month – and then cancel it the next day. You have the ability to run A/B testing, try different images, promote stories and specific campaigns. With Facebook, you have creativity on your side! The most successful Facebook advertising campaigns I have seen are short-term. They are run for a specific promotion with a specific call to action. Once the campaign ends, the fans are more than likely going to stay on the page (how often do YOU un-fan a page once you’ve ‘liked’ them?) So, as long as you continue to provide awesome content on your page, those fans will continue to stay engaged…and feed the growth of your brand.

Bottom line: Targeted advertising on Facebook translates into targeted fans. Targeted fans translate into more participation and engagement. More participation and engagement translates into more brand recognition and more sales.

Buying fans through craigslist or any ‘get fans quick’ campaign = BAD

Facebook ads targeted to the right audience with strong call to action messaging = GOOD

Has your brand tested Facebook advertising?

If not, why not?

Social media isn’t a luxury item. It’s a business necessity.

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