Changes in the Plan

I am putting together a marketing plan for a new website for a customer I have had for years. His products are offered by a lot of companies and competes with sites like zappos.com. He has always done well in search, but over the last year or so has started slipping. Partly due to site issues but partly due to not staying current in changes to search.

When we talk , we talk about titles and text on pages and text links. He does have a blog but it is not used often and does not really push any boundaries. The readers digest version of a blog I call it. He is using both Facebook and Twitter. And does spend time on that. We do PPC although if we just look at sales the only PPC that is a great value are shopping feeds.

And while our conversations these days  includes 301 redirects and optimization and sitemaps,  all must haves for moving a site. We have not yet had the real conversation about changes in SEO, sales and the Internet. That is coming tomorrow. My list of marketing projects all begin with the same message be authentic, add to the online conversation, engage, get reviews, talk, have value. As an SEO person I am having to steer clients directly into the social world. He is being talked about on Reddit. We need to be there and answer. We need to engage Facebook users more, Google + users,  we need a newsletter that is shareable, work on blog posts that say something different about a new product. it takes a lot of energy to do this kind of marketing, but it makes a huge difference in search, plus social media has its own merit in getting the word out about you, your company, and your ideals. At his suggestion we are talking about the culture of his customers, that is a great lead in to all of the places we must be to engage them, and how will we engage them.   No more hiding behind titles and meta descriptions. It is not that they don’t matter, they still do, but it is that they don’t matter as much as they used too.  It is time to work, and work harder than doing keyword research.  But if I can get him to buy in, and I suspect he will he is an incredible business man,  I can see the profits  from here.

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Using your Footer

If you are working on the SEO for your website, look at your footer. Is it the best it can
be? Does it have your address and phone number if you want to be found for
local search? Does it tell people what your company does in a few short words?
Since your footer is on every page it can help your site with the relevance
factor for search. Don’t do keyword stuffing or anything that is designed just
for engines, but do look at it from the visitor point of view. Does it give
enough information? Can it be better? If it is good for people it will be good
for engines.

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Willamette Innovators SEO Hotseat

I was asked to be a part of the Willamette Innovators SEO hot seat on February 9th. It was a great crowd. Very interesting mix of people, and the energy was great. There were two other amazing marketers on the panel. Dan Sullivan, from San Diego based Gravity SEO – http://www.gravityim.com and Michael Michael Arnesen, from Portland based SwellPath – http://www.swellpath.com.
It went into overtime and in reality could have gone on for hours. It was lead by those great guys, Jason Prothero and Loyan Roylance from Proworks in Corvalis.

For anyone in Corvallis, you may want to look into this group. It seemed an out of the ordinary networking group.

SEO Hotseat in Corvallis

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Keep This Handy: The Ultimate Facebook Page Dimensions Cheat Sheet [INFOGRAPHIC]

Keeping up with all of the recent changes to Facebook’s business pages could make a person’s head spin! Good thing we came across this handy infographic from DreamGlow that keeps all of the important info in once place.

Whether you are creating a Facebook ad, profile picture, thumbnail, cover photo, writing copy or uploading a video- this time saving guide tells you everything you need to know. So Bookmark it, Pin it, Tweet it, post it to your profile….do whatever you need to do to keep this handy. Trust me, you will use it.

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New Look for Facebook Pages

We have been helping our clients prepare for March 30th, when Facebook automatically switches the look of Facebook pages to the new TimeLine layout.

Thanks to Mashable.com for this comprehensive description of changes.

Updated Look and Feel

The format of Timeline for brands is quite similar to Timeline for personal profiles. It employs a cover photo at the top of the Page, and the Page is separated into two main columns by a dividing line, which represents the passage of time. This format provides brands with new options for self-expression: They can outline their corporate history with milestones (such as product launches, store openings, etc.) to construct a narrative for their audience.
Reduced Tab Visibility

The new Timeline format does not have the left-side panel of links, which could include hundreds of different tabs. While applications still exist, they’ll display differently, in rectangular panels underneath the cover photo. The width of the Timeline and the space allocated for native apps like Photos means that only three tab panels are viewable at any given time. To see more, users must expand the tab panel by clicking a drop-down box.
No Default Landing Page

With the new Timeline Page format, you will no longer be able to set a default landing Page, a favored feature for many savvy brands. The option was one of the primary ways to control the first (branded) impression a user encountered. Since there are no more tab Pages, there is no way to set one as a default. This will drastically change user impressions when they first visit a brand’s Timeline Page.
Recommendation:You will need to apply new and careful attention to all the top messages in the Timeline, as they will be the first objects seen by visiting users. Likewise, Facebook ads for brands will become ever important, as ads will be one of the major ways brands on Facebook can control a user’s experience. Setting up an advertising campaign for a Facebook promotion or new application will be the only way to guide new and clicking users directly to that application (as landing on this Page cannot be achieved by default).

New Way to Feature Content

One major new feature that marketers will love is the ability to “pin” certain posts to the top of the Timeline. Similar to marking a blog post “sticky,” so that it remains at the top of a blog for a specified period of time, pinning a post to the top of Timeline allows it to precede any other content. A pinned post is distinguished by a small, orange flag. Brands can pin only one item at a time, and the pinned item then exists in two locations — as the top item on the Timeline itself, as well as within its chronological place. Once unpinned (which happens automatically when a new item gets pinned, or the item has been pinned for more than seven days), the post remains in the chronology of Timeline posts, but there is no visual history that it was pinned in the past.

Current Tab Content and Applications Become Outdated

The new Timeline layout displaces Facebook’s existing Page tab configuration (including a tab’s 520-pixel width), and replaces it with a new 810-pixel layout. As a result, existing Page tab content will look centered in the middle of the 810-pixel layout without any adjustments. All applications that remain on a brand’s Page will need new application icons (the new dimensions are 111×74).

Private Messages Between Brands and Users

Finally, brands will be able to send and receive private messages with users. This allows for much deeper consumer interaction, and will also enable Page managers to take extended customer inquiries off the Timeline and into a private message.

 

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SEO Tips for You Tube Video Content

You Tube has firmly established itself as a search engine as well as a major entertainment portal. How can you leverage the power of You Tube for your business website?
Just as with search, there are ways to use your video content to deliver traffic and qualified leads to your site. If you have original content,   set up a You Tube Channel through your Google account, and start creating your video library.

Here are some tips for video SEO. Well optimized videos will gain better search placement and views in both You Tube and Google search

  • Use Keywords- Video SEO needs optimization with target relevant keywords. Similar to the content SEO, you have to find keywords, and then use them accordingly. You must use keywords in file name too.
  •  Title- Search Engines look at the titles first. Use relevant keywords and also come up with an attention grabbing title-keeping with the theme of your site/brand
  • Tags- Make sure that you use keywords and phrases to tag your videos. Your purpose is to optimize the video for search queries that the users may type.
  • Video Files Metadata Optimization- Like you do in text SEO, here too, you can optimize your video by using relevant keywords in the metadata. Your meta descriptions must have keywords in it. Make sure to encode the keywords into your video’s meta data. Tag videos with specific keywords, you can also go by tagging each scene.
  • Use the word- video- as a keyword- People often add the word “video” in their search queries. Like people may search for- “Prince William wedding Video” or maybe “How to style your hair video” that is why, you must use ‘video’ as a keyword.
  • Get Links as well as backlinks to the video-Use the relevant keywords and phrases as the anchor text for these links. You can indulge in cross-linking to other videos from relevant web pages.
  • Create Video sitemaps / MRSS / RSS- make it easy for the search bots to find your videos and index them.
  • Create A One Video Directory- Move all of your videos into one folder and make sure to upload all your future videos to this same folder. This will allow easy access to all your videos to both bots and the visitors.
  • Avoid Flash Video Players- Search engines have difficulty in crawling flash players, so they are best avoided.
  • Optimize your URLs- Optimize your URLs so that they to contain information about the video. Also, make sure you only have one video per URL.
  • Branding – The first and the last frames are perfect for branding. You may start your video by something like- “Nature Fresh Spa presents- Make your own home spa.”
  • Go Social With Your Videos- Encourage viewers to share your videos-put it on social networking sites. Make it easy for users to share your video on You Tube, Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. Spend time in Tweeting the video and linking to videos from social media pages.
  • Embed videos in blog posts- You may link your videos in blog posts- this will not only improve your readability, but also generate huge interest among readers, as visual media is always more appealing.Additionally, when you place a video on your site, all the above applies, plus:
    Create HTML content for the video- the video must be surrounded by HTML content. So that the search engines can get additional information from the surrounding page. You can also add a text transcript or external captions as text that you publish on the page with the video- to help the engines get more information about the video.

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Social Interaction Analytics: Measuring the Impact of Social Media

     Recently Google rolled out a cool new feature of Analytics called Social Interaction Analytics. Basically what it does is tracks the actions of social plugins like the +1 button, the Facebook Like button, the Tweet This button, and other social media buttons that exist on your site, and records these actions in your Analytics account, allowing you to track and compare this activity in conjunction with other measurable actions like e-commerce revenue, clicks, and page views within the comprehensive platform of Google Analytics.

     While not an exact science (all analytics measurements have a margin of error), it is a nice attempt by Google to help you determine ROI of social media within this somewhat scaled down context. Keep in mind that this is not an all inclusive measurement of your Facebook activity. Google cannot track activity within the walls of Facebook, so the number of fans, contests, and activity you have on your actual Facebook page will still have to be measured separately. However, if you are interested in what people are sharing directly from your site or blog pages and to which social media platform and would like to track this activity within Analytics, you can now do so.

     First you have to determine if you are using the “new” tracking code for analytics. This means the “asynchronous” tracking code that was rolled out a couple years back. Before now, there were a few minor reasons for adopting the code, which we will attempt to explain below without getting too geeky (mostly because we are simply not cool enough to be that geeky), but it was not a required change so many site owners did not bother to migrate their web pages to the new code. The original explanation for the asynchronous code was to assist analytics in tracking activity on your site by running a script element that allows the browser to load the analytics tracking code simultaneously with the other scripts on the page, which in turn improves page load times and allows you site to load quicker. In Google’s words :

“·  Faster tracking code load times for your web pages due to improved browser execution

·  Enhanced data collection & accuracy

·  Elimination of tracking errors from dependencies when the JavaScript hasn’t fully loaded.”

      The asynchronous tracking code looks like something like this:

                                Asynchronous Tracking Snippet Example

                               _gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-XXXXX-X’]);

                                _gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]);

    Basically, it was a way for Google to load the pages that its tracking faster and more accurately for Analytics purposes. However, since most sites didn’t really care about or understand the benefits, or never heard about it in the first place, many sites are still using the “Traditional” tracking snippet in their Google Analytics pages. The traditional code looks something like this:

                              Traditional Tracking Snippet Example

                             var pageTracker = _gat._getTracker(‘UA-XXXXX-X’);

                             pageTracker._trackPageview();

     But now there is a great reason to use the “new” code: Google +1 tracking and Social Interaction Analytics and Event Tracking. If you have the asynchronous code installed, it will automatically track +1 interactions on your site or in search results, and send them to your analytics. Since many businesses who already use social media are no doubt curious about the benefits of Google’s +1 button, and the soon to arrive company profile pages of Google +, this is  a great way to not only “test the waters” of Google’s new social features, but be ready to hit the ground running when Google expands its offering on Google +. In addition, by incorporating some additional customized code via the “_trackSocial” command, you can define what other types of social actions the tracking code should be picking up and have them pushed to your analytics account as well.

You can easily check to see which snippet you are using by simply viewing the page source of one of the pages that you are tracking with analytics.

If you see that you are using the traditional snippet and you would like to migrate over to the asynchronous snippet, the easiest way is to talk to your web host or whoever has access to your page source code. The new code is applied the same way the original analytics code was applied and there are debugging tools available to help you check your work. Adding the additional customized social tracking codes requires a little more work since you have to make sure you are tracking the correct type of button (one “like” button does not fit all, unfortunately).

This is a simple overview and we hope to provide additional specific information, including troubleshooting tips and any compatibility issues as we execute this new feature, using our own site and the guinea pig. In the meantime, feel free to post any comments or questions about this blog and we will do our best to answer them.

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Video on Google Analytics

As our clients know we are big Google Analytics fans. Like everything online, it is growing and adapting to how users need it to work. But there are some basic questions we get asked over and over. Questions like “what is an average bounce rate”? And “how many pages per visit is a good number”? This video addresses some of those issues and is a good starting point for people who have not spent much time on Analytics.

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5 Steps to Getting What You Want from AdWords

Being successful in AdWords means having the conviction to clearly identify your goals and strategies along with the flexibility and willingness to change your approach to meet the needs of your customers. The following 5 steps reflect the necessity of a detailed, yet flexible approach to your advertising strategy.

Step 1: Set Your Goals

The first step in any advertising campaign is determining what your goals are. In AdWords, not only is it important to define your goals and budget for your account, but to refine your goals at every step from campaign down to keywords. Failing to clarify each step in the process can lead to poorly performing ads, and worst of all, a waste of your hard-earned cash. The best questions to ask yourself when determining goals in AdWords is “What is my potential customer looking for?”, “At what stage in the buying cycle do I want to reach my customers?”, and “What kind of response am I seeking?” Answering these questions will not only help to clarify what kind of campaign you want to run, they will also help you determine your budget allocation, which measurements are important, and what types of ads to run.

Step 2: Determine Your Strategy

There are two main online advertising strategies when it comes to AdWords – building brand awareness and selling your product. These are not mutually exclusive goals when it comes to advertising a business, but they should be separate campaigns within your AdWords account. Many AdWords campaigns focus exclusively on building brand awareness. Advertisers that are focusing on improving the visibility of their brands can structure their campaigns to ensure they are reaching the highest volume of traffic for their keywords.

For example, a branding campaign for a site selling DJ equipment may be set up like this: the seller wants to reach as broad a scope as possible to get his name recognized across music sites, so he chooses generic keywords like “music”, “musical instruments”, and “audio equipment.” Further, since he is trying to get as much response as possible to his site, he will choose a CPM campaign so he can pay per thousand impressions; this way, he can track interest by seeing how many clicks he gets without having to pay for each one. He will then measure success by tracking these clicks on his click-through rate (CTR) measurements, as well as which sites he linked to most, which will enable him to track the amount of exposure he is getting and where the interest is coming from.

Step 3: Experiment

Even though he is focused on his branding campaign, he is getting great CTR results and decides to set up a cost per click to “test the waters” of sales and conversions. This is a great idea, mostly because he is not trying to double his branding campaign as a conversion campaign. This should be its own campaign, focusing on specific keywords targeted at relevant sites in the search and display networks which allows our dj to drive for sales with every click.

Step 4: Be Flexible!

The vast array of reports, tools, and options available on AdWords can be somewhat daunting, but don’t be afraid to act on what the numbers are telling you. Our dj selling equipment might think he is just getting his name out there, but the numbers are now telling a different story. His CPC has reached budget 14 out of the last 15 days, and his conversions are creeping up on several keywords. Meanwhile, his CPM branding campaign is getting a high number of clicks, and is now taking up much of his daily budget. The seller adjusts his bidding strategy to reflect these results, reallocating ad spend from the branding campaign into the more profitable CPC campaigns. He may still utilize his branding campaign to maintain a certain level of exposure, but he has shifted the majority of his daily budget away from it.

Step 5: Optimize

Now he is getting the biggest return on his advertising investment by targeting specific websites based on his incoming URLs, refining keyword lists based on their effectiveness (no more “music” in the keyword lists), and creating multiple, separate ad groups for each group of refined keywords. By utilizing a new CPC campaign for each popular keyword along with manual targeting of specific websites, his ads are being rewarded by Google; the are relevant to the sites they appear on, which in turn improves his overall Quality Score, which then drives down his overall ad costs.

Bottom Line: Set your campaigns according to the goals you have in mind for your advertising budget, but advertisers have to be willing to deviate from the original goals depending on the responses they get and what the data shows. There are so many different ways to measure success in AdWords, and you can’t be great at all of them at once. Each category reflects a strategy, and every advertiser should be aware of which is the most important outcome for them.

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Leverage Social Media Tools to Respond to Customer Feedback

Social media brings word of mouth marketing to a whole new level. Thanks to user generated content sites, consumers are more empowered than ever to voice their opinions and share their experiences with the rest of the world.

One of the biggest advantages for companies who utilize Social Media tools is the having the ability to respond to customer feedback: the good, the bad, and yes- the ugly.  Rather than fear negative feedback- turn it inside out and view this as an chance to respond to the feedback and build trust with your customers.  This as an opportunity to show the public that you listen.

Here is an example:  A few years ago found some negative comments about a restaurant managed by someone I knew in a popular dining blog. The comments were posted by an angry customer who had received terrible service while dining. I contacted her to see if she was aware of this. She was aware, but wanted to ignore them so she would not draw further attention to them. She felt that the incident the customer was referring to happened so long ago that it did not matter. However, it did matter- the damaging comments still came up when I did a search!!

She explained that the server who had given the poor service had been terminated, and the customer was given a generous gift card and an apology from the manager. However, this did not stop the customer from going to this site and writing a damaging statement in the comments section. You do not have to be a marketing genius to know how ONE bad review for a fine dining establishment can really hurt business.

I strongly advised her to get in touch with the writers of the blog and let them know some negative feedback has been published about her establishment and request an opportunity to make it right by inviting them to dinner. I also advised her to log into the review site, create her own account with her identity clearly visible and to directly respond to the accusations directly in a diplomatic and respectful manner. Perhaps she could say-

“Thank you for your honest feedback. Our customer satisfaction is very important and we regret that you had the experience described. We handled the situation by……..Please let us know how we could have handled it differently in order to serve you better. We hope to have the opportunity to make it right.”

If I were an outside reader and I came across a genuine, proactive response to poor feedback – I would be more inclined to give that establishment a second look.

Bottom line: Ignoring negative feedback is not going to make it go away. Address negative comments directly and with grace. This gives you an opportunity to learn and grow as an organization and communicate your key message to other customers. By doing this, you demonstrate that you are in tune with your customers.

If your business is not using social media to connect to customers, you are missing a big opportunity.  Here are some tips for businesses to utilize social media tools:

  • Create a Google Alert for your business.  Place the title of your business in quotes like “Out of the Box Marketing”.  You have the option to receive these alerts daily.
  • Conduct a regular audit for your business using Social Mention.  This will search online content and filter it all into a report for you to go through.
  • Regularly search consumer review sites for your brand (like travel sites, electronics sites, Google Reviews)
  • Create a Facebook page for your business (if you have not already done so) and invite feedback from your consumers!

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The Importance of Reviews to Local Search

Every day, the Internet becomes more and more tailored to suit you and your potential customer’s specific needs. It remembers what websites you have visited and “liked”, what your location is, and makes suggestions about the things you might be looking for. This focus on convenience means it is increasingly important for you to market your business in the most convenient place possible: locally.  Capturing local business online depends on your presence, and reviews on your site play a role in establishing this presence.

First, consider these statistics, courtesy of the freeseoguide:

90% of online commercial searches result in offline “in-store” purchases.
82% of local searchers follow up offline by a store visit or phone call.
80% of all budgets are spent within 50 miles of home.

At Out of the Box, we take great care in enhancing your website and place page so that they are optimized for organic search, building links to your site, and ensuring your business’ information is consistent across all directories so that you can be competitive in local searches. There are many factors that go into your site’s ranking in search results, and it is our job to address each of them. However, one of the most important things that you can do as a business owner that will enhance these results and make a big difference in your local search presence is getting lots and lots of reviews on your place page. There are a couple of great ways to approach this:
“Quantity over quality” – The placement of your place page in the local search listings is influenced by the number of reviews that your business receives. At this point Google search places slightly more importance on the number of reviews over the quality of the review. This will undoubtedly change over time to more accurately reflect customer “sentiment,” but we recommend that you offer every customer a chance to provide feedback to your business on your place page. If you have 5 or 6 great reviews, you are not relevant and will likely not be at the top of local searches, especially in competitive environments such as hospitality.

In the example below, we searched for “Portland restaurants.”  While there are a variety of factors involved in the search results, the relationship between rankings and review/citation count should be not be ignored:

Keyword: portland restaurant
Listing    Homepage                                   Position    Verified?    Review Count           Citations

Portland City Grill                                             1              Y                1902               190
Mothers                                                           2              Y                1699                192
Rock Bottom Brewery                                        3              Y                  998                104

” A bad review is a great opportunity” – Reviews not only help you solicit honest feedback about your customer’s experience, they give you the chance to make it up to them if something goes wrong. Responding to a negative review in a professional and friendly way on your website or place page demonstrates that you are willing to go above and beyond to make things right for your customers.

Out of the Box has a number of strategies and advice for how to increase your review count, and we will continue to work diligently to address the multitude of other factors that help to determine your search ranking. As always, we are here to help you be successful and build your business in a practical manner. Whether your online presence makes up a small part or a significant portion of your marketing campaign, we want to make sure you are getting the most out of it and providing as much synergy across all campaigns as possible!

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Earning a Ranking

Like all good marketing companies we read a lot of articles and blogs from people in our industry. The other day I read an article comparing black hat SEO and white hat. It was all the usual remarks about black hat techniques jeopardizing the client’s site and white hat SEO taking a long time. But then he said something that caught my attention. He said websites have to earn their placement in search engines. And I realized that is exactly where we are most helpful to clients; we help them grow their site in all the ways that help earn that ranking.

One day I am on the phone talking about the importance of reviews with a longstanding client and the next day I am discussing keyword research and adding titles and text links to a new client’s site.

There is no magic with search engine ranking nor are there any quick turnarounds. You can’t optimize a site and then walk away saying done. Even if it is done perfectly, you will always see something you can add or subtract. You can’t pay to have a zillion links to your site and check search engine marketing off your list. You can’t get a Facebook page and twitter account and start promoting your page and expect great placement, nor can you add 50 articles about your topic and call it a day. All of this things play a role in your placement in engines. And all of these things, and several hundred more are a part of earning your search engine ranking.

A good SEO campaign is really never ending. Each month we look at a client’s site from all angles. And we identify and build out those areas where we see the site is the weakest. One month we will look at it as a user. And ask how can we make it clearer how to navigate the site, or does this text really say enough about the product to make me want to buy it?
What is the bounce rate for that page? Another month we may be figuring out why the Google shopping feed is not getting as many sales as last year or how to grow their fans in Facebook. It is all part of Internet marketing and it is all part of SEO.

Our clients get harassed by online companies loudly offering one of these services as if it will solve their problem and they will suddenly have great placement and great sales. We just sigh and say no that will not happen, let’s get back to work. Because that is what it takes to make a site show up well in engines and stay there. Plain, simple, continuous work. As unglamorous as that sounds.

But if you come across an online offer to lose weight immediately with some new product I just have to buy, send it on to me, please. I just know there is an easy way out there I just haven’t found it yet.

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Facebook’s New Business Page Tip #1: How to Login as Your Business Page

There has been a great deal of chatter about the sweeping changes Facebook has made to Business Pages this month.  Our clients have so many questions about this that we are planning to devote a series of posts to answering them- one post at at time.

With some assistance and explanations from savvy bloggers like JohnHaydon.com, we have realized that in the case of Facebook’s New Business Page Layout- change is good!

Facebook’s New Business Page Layout Tip #1: How to Login and Interact as Your Page

Business Page admins now have the ability to shift/toggle from their personal Facebook Profile to “Page Mode” and interact with other Business Pages as their Business Page.  This is probably the most significant new feature of the new pages launched this month.  What does this mean for you?

  • You can now log in as your page and “Like” other pages and interact with them just as you would from your personal profile.
  • Note: Pages cannot interact with personal profiles unless the profile’s privacy settings are wide open.
  • FAQ: Can I use a separate email and password to use Facebook as the Page I admin? Not at this time. In order to use Facebook as your Page, you must first log in to your personal profile, and then select the option to use Facebook as your Page.

How to do it?  Watch the video below! Got  more questions about the new Facebook page layout? Post them and we find the answer!

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The Buzz……Facebook “Deals” Increases Engagement with Mobile App Users

Image Credit: Facebook.com

Businesses and consumers are benefiting again through Facebook.  It began with the Business Page; then Facebook Ads; then Facebook Places took interactions to a new level with mobile device users.  Now we have Facebook Deals open to some businesses who have claimed their page in Facebook places.

So here’s how it works: You create a “Deal” for your customers and it will appear on their mobile phones when they are near your location- they can take advantage of the deal when they check in on Facebook.  We love that it is currently free for businesses to use- and can be an excellent way to reward Facebook users and build great buzz for your business!  The more value you give your customers, the more buzz your deal will generate.

Depending on your marketing goals, there are four types of deals for you to consider:

Individual Deals

  • Simple, easy to follow
  • Great way to get people into your store or get rid of excess inventory
  • Perfect if you want to offer a one-time deal
  • Flexible – can be used on new and current customers.
  • Examples: Offer a 40% Discount, or a free gift with a purchase from your store, or complimentary appetizer at your restaurant with the purchase of a dinner, etc.

Loyalty Deals

  • Rewards your most loyal customers
  • This deal is claimed by customers after a certain number of check-ins (no fewer than two and no more
  • than 20 check-ins)

Friend Deals

  • Goal is to provide a deal to a group of people
  • Can offer discounts to groups of up to 8 people when they check in together.
  • Great viral exposure for your business because it requires customers need to share you deal with their friends and family

Charity Deals

  • Builds awareness
  • Builds appreciation with your customers- it shows you care about your community
  • You will make a donation in the amount of your choice to the charity of your choice each time someone claims your deal.
  • This is a great way for your business to give back

Here are Facebook’s recommendations when creating your Deals:

Offer your customers a lot of value
Example- offer a 10% – 50% discount or a gift with purchase that is of equal or greater value than the customer purchase amount.

Keep Your Copy Short, Simple and to the Point! The easier for your consumers to read and understand, the more successful your deal will be. Stay away from wordy titles and descriptions.

Avoid “deal fatigue” ! Running too many deals at the same time may be confusing for your employees and customers. Deals that run too long may become irrelevant and may be viewed as readily available discounts that
don’t drive people’s intent to purchase. In addition, pay attention to the number of deals that you run.
Running too many deals at the same time may be confusing for your employees and customers.

To create your deal: Make sure that you have claimed your business on Facebook Places. If you are eligible, you should see a “Create a Deal” button on the top right corner.   At this time, deals are only available to a limited set of businesses in the US. If you are part of the initial beta, you’ll notice a “Create Deal” button at the top right of your Place. If you are not- don’t worry!  Facebook is committed to bringing this opportunity to everyone and we will keep you posted!

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Social Media And Google Search

Search Engine Optimizers and Social Media Experts alike have been saying for some time now, that it appears that Social Media influences Google placement. Now we have confirmation of that from Matt Cutts the face of Google. And surprise, surprise it mimics their algorithium for Page Rank. Quantity is not enough you must look at quality, and you must be a trusted source. So building business followers in both Facebook and Twitter must make sense and be related to what you do. Using good common sense with Google has always been a rule of thumb for us and now that continues into social media.

Listen to the specifics in this video from Matt Cutts .

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Keyword Research is Crucial to Optimizing Your Blog Content

Do either of these scenarios sound familiar to you?

Scenario #1: You are a very busy business owner who barely has time to search for anything on the Internet- let alone sit down and write a blog post that will be seen on a wide scale.

Scenario #2: You have taken up valuable time to write what you consider to be a masterpiece in your industry- and nobody reads it.

For any business owner, having a company blog is becoming a standard in most Social Media Marketing plans. The benefits of smart business blogging include a better connection to your customers, stronger branding, and more consistent communications…which can result in increased traffic to your site which can mean: more business.

We are finding the “just put it out there and they will come” approach to Social Media is not the best strategy when it comes to getting the most out of your investment of time and money. One very important step to your campaign strategy is to optimize your blog. There are several ways to do this- and it really is not as complicated as you think.

I am launching a series of posts dedicated to helping you understand different tools and techniques that are used to make sure your blogging efforts do not go unseen.

Blog Optimizing Tip #1:  Keyword Research.

Your choice of words is critical- particularly in the title. When you sit down to write, ask yourself “What words would my customers use to search this topic”– and be realistic. For instance, if you own a bakery and you are doing a post on current wedding cake trends- a bad title would be “Some of my favorite styles” .  Perhaps a better,  (though less personal) title would be: “Best Wedding Cake Ideas” (or something similar to that).

You want to think about who your customers are and what they search for. I know this seems like common sense, but you would be surprised by how many bloggers miss an opportunity to be found online just because they did not think about the keywords in their title.

Take a few moments to do keyword research before every post. I cannot tell you how much this quick and easy step will help you become a better blogger and see more satisfying results.

Google’s Keyword Tool is one of the best ways to conduct your keyword research (and it is free & easy to use).  Type in the topic you want to blog about in the “word or phrase”  field  (ex/”Wedding Cakes”) and it will pull up the most searched for terms relating to that topic.

Something to keep in mind: The higher searched terms are more competitive and the “big fish” out there may have a lock on those words (this means you won’t see as much traffic because your blog post could end up on page #256 of Google if you only focus on highly competitive keyword).   You might be better off using a slightly less competitive term- use your best judgement.  The more you practice this- the better judgement you will be able to use when choosing your keywords.  If you want to explore other options there are lots of great tools out there to explore.  Here are a few to get you started: Wordtracker; WordStream; Google Suggest; Thesaurus.com

Here is an excellent video tutorial that breaks down the ins and outs of using  Google’s Keyword Tool

 

I will be doing a series of posts dedicated to sharing the best ways to optimize your blog so you can enjoy increased (and more qualified) Web traffic to your site.  Check back for my next tip!

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PPC Mistakes to Avoid

An article in the New York Times details common mistakes to avoid in PPC management. We list them here with some additional comments from Laura, our PPC strategist.

Mistake #1. Giving up before you pull in enough clicks to allow for  analysis and improvements

— Make sure you have Google Analytics properly installed on your site. That will allow a thorough examination of the keywords, ad copy and landing pages that are actually returning sales and meeting your goals. If you start with a high budget, you may get scared off initially, but it is important to rate the results first, then fine tune the budget, keywords, and ad copy.

Mistake #2: Focusing on click-through rates.

–A campaign isn’t effective if it gets high click through rates, but produces little revenue. Once again, conversion data is essential. The question to ask from  CTR results  is ” if all these people are landing on my site, why is no one buying? ” It will help you craft better landing pages, examine the navigability of your site, prices of competitors, etc. You can create several versions of an ad and rotate them evenly. If you allow the Google machine to determine the most popular ad, it will be the one that is visible more of the time. At the beginning of any campaign, it is best to let ads run equally. The one with the highest CTR may not be the one bringing in the most sales.

Mistake # 3: Not mastering conversion metrics.

–The article details the use of conversion data. Conversion metrics are available for all CPC campaigns from the Ad Words dashboard. It is not the same as Google Analytics. For an immediate snapshot of the campaign ROI conversion metrics are helpful. It requires another few steps to set up your Google Analytics account, but we advise that everyone do so. Analytics provides even more comprehensive data, asllowing you to compare the ROI of organic search, site referrals, and CPC.

Mistake #4   Not setting the right budget.

— The author of the article says it all:  If you can figure out roughly whether you’re getting a positive return on investment, you should base your budget on that and nothing else. If you’re not making money on the campaign, keep your spending low until you fix it — you won’t make it up on volume. If you’re making money, spend more and keep spending more and more as long as you stay in the black — until you can’t handle or just don’t want the extra business or until the monthly cash outlay becomes so large that it threatens to cause cash flow problems.

Mistake #5: Not tweaking everything relentlessly.

It is important to continually learn about and utilize all the campaign options available in CPC ads. Geo targets, product ads, ad copy, keywords, image and managed placements can all be changed and improved. The mistake is to ignore the many opportunities for change, and just stick with the “tried and true”. You should always be on the hunt for better keywords, better ads, and better ways to convert ad clickers into site visitors.

Mistake #6: Shooting too high.

— Employing the most popular (generic) keywords and aiming for top placement will quickly deplete your budget and may not return any revenue. For example, a client of ours has a pond supply business, ThePondOutlet.com. When he first launched the site, we were reliant on PPC to generate sales. Rather than focus on the keyword “pond supplies”  we chose to focus the ads on the Aquascape brand and individual products. He has now  the largest online retailer of Aquascape pond supplies. With good organic placement, we can show the ads in lower positions on the page and still garner clicks and sales.

Mistake #7: Not reassessing your strategy.

Nothing works well forever. It makes sense to look at changing factors such as seasonal cycles, the rising costs of keywords that may have once served you well but are now astronomic. Perhaps you have noticed sales from overseas and it might be worth considering a foreign language ad. Maybe you will discover niche markets and be inspired to  launch a new business!

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Revisiting 10 Golden Rules of Social Media

Revisiting 10 Golden Rules of Social Media
January 5th, 2010 (9:00am) Aliza Sherman 13 CommentsTweet This (248)
http://webworkerdaily.com/2010/01/05/revisiting-10-golden-rules-of-social-media/

As 2010 opens its doors, I wanted to take another look at my Golden Rules of Social Media, published back in May of 2009, to see if I could consolidate those rules into five actions we can take to work better in — and through — social media in the coming year.

Here is the original list of ten social media rules to live and work by:

1. Respect the Spirit of the ‘Net.
2. Listen.
3. Add Value.
4. Respond.
5. Do Good Things.
6. Share the Wealth.
7. Give Kudos.
8. Don’t Spam.
9. Be Real.
10. Collaborate.

5 Things to Do Within Social Media in 2010

Here is how I’d consolidate those rules to the fundamental ideas about how we should be using social media tools and platforms in 2010:

1. Listen. The best way to start your foray in social networks and other social media platforms is to listen. Listen to the conversations already happening around you before you jump in to join them. Listen to the ebb and flow. Listen to the rhythm of discourse. Listen to the stream to make sure you understand — and respect — what is already taking place. You will surely misstep if you do not listen.
2. Add Value. The term “value” is subjective, but once you have truly listened, you will be able to discern with relative certainty what is valuable to any given conversation or community. Can you add value to the conversation, not just an empty voice? Can you be a resource? A supporter? A cheerleader? An organizer? What is your social media value proposition?
3. Respond. If you are listening, you will hear when someone says something that begs your attention. You will hear when someone references you. You now have a door to enter the conversation. And if you’ve listened thoughtfully and have something valuable to share, your participation will be welcome.
4. Do Good Things. At this point in our lives, we should all know right from wrong. We should all want to do the right thing. We know that spamming is wrong — it is invasive, thoughtless, worthless, and a surefire way to mucking up a potential conversation. We know that scamming is wrong. We know that being honest is good and the right thing to be. We know that helping others and being generous is good, too.
5. Be Real. Be yourself. Even if you are representing a company or brand and are using the “voice of the company” or “voice of the brand,” you can still be human. Yes there is a time and place for automating a message, but learn when that’s appropriate. Be present. Be there. If you — or a real person who is paying attention and cares — cannot be there, don’t bother with social media. Remember that people are on the receiving end of everything you put out in more intimate ways than ever before. Don’t abuse that privilege when they let you into their feeds and streams.

What is the most powerful social media lesson you’ve learned in 2009 that can be good advice to others?

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The Veld Group

We would like to welcome The Veld Group Business Brokers in Los Angeles California to our client roster.
According to the Veld Group’s Sales Director Ryan Clark “We seek to sell solid, profitable businesses that offer a unique value proposition and have a sustainable business model. Oftentimes, the value of any company, large or small, may be hidden amongst its assets. It may be a company’s patents, client base, manufacturing capability, distribution network, licenses and use permits, or simply in its location, property, entitlements, or facility lease.”

We are very pleased to be working with this forward looking company in a effort to increase traffic.

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Turning social media into a sixth sense

Turning social media into a sixth sense
The “Holy Grail” of social media isn’t real-time search, but “ambient streaming,” argues Edo Segal. Over time, Segal argues, social media will evolve into a virtual sixth sense — a constant, seamlessly immersive flow of information, passively filtered to meet our needs without overwhelming us. “It may sound like science fiction, but there are engineers and entrepreneurs out there already trying to make it fact,” Segal adds. “We will be seeing the first swells of this coming tsunami in the years to come.”

From: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/12/20/ambient-streams-realtime/

Beyond Realtime Search: The Dawning Of Ambient Streams

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by Guest Author on December 20, 2009

The following guest post was written by Edo Segal (@edosegal).

It was 1993 and I had just decided to drop out of college. I was a graphic design major in a great art school but decided I want to start my second company. Knowing this would mark the conclusion of my studies there I set out to create my final project. I would write a short story, design and produce it in print. I put out an edition of 300 and gave it to my friends and people who inspired me like author William Gibson.

Cut to November, 2009, when I returned from sitting on a panel at the second Realtime CrunchUp. I had urged the audience and participants that when thinking about the realtime web we should not consider the challenge through the lens of how consumers behave today. I argued that the future potential of the realtime web is not in the misnomer “realtime search,” as the consumption of this signal will predominantly be in what I call ambient streams. These are streams of information bubbling up in realtime, which seek us out, surround us, and inform us. They are like a fireplace bathing us in ambient infoheat. I believe that users will not go to a page and type in a search in a search box. Rather the information will appear to them in an ambient way on a range of devices and through different experiences.

A few days after I got back from the CrunchUp, I was organizing some old documents when I stumbled on I Was Just Dead< , a cyberpunk short story I wrote 16 years ago. A story about a world of augmented reality. A world where at birth a chip is embedded in people’s brains creating a reality where they no longer discern what is “real” and what is augmented in their surroundings (Hear the audio-book or download the free eBook below). It was strange to hear my former self calling out about the importance of augmented reality from across the span of almost two decades of experiences in the digital world, half of which were spent solving the problem of how to filter the massive realtime stream.

When trying to understand something potentially transformative, knowing what questions to ask is more than half the challenge. We are still in the early stages of these changes and don’t yet have the necessary metaphors to make the leap into the future. It is for that purpose that I want to suggest what I consider to be the building blocks of our next big evolutionary leap in how we use technology. The four main building blocks are:

1. Realtime Web (Twitter, news flows, world events, and other information which relates to changes in the world)
2. Published Information (sites, blogs, Wikipedia, etc.)
3. Geolocation Data (your location and information layers related to it, including your past locations and that of your friends, as well as geo-tagged media)
4. Social Communications (social graph updates, IMs, emails, text messages, and other forms of signal from your friends).

Before these building blocks can create an ambient stream which is not overwhelming, all of this data needs to pass through a filter. The Holy Grail is a filter which only serves up information which is relevant based on who you are, your social graph, what you or your friends are doing now, what you or friends have done before, and in context of other information you are consuming. It needs to be delivered wherever you are and on whatever device or display can deliver the ambient stream: mobile phone, laptop computer, TV, heads-up display in vehicle or inside your glasses. The future of how ambient streams might enter our world is illustrated with the following simplistic diagram:

Putting all of these building blocks together will be an industry-wide task. There are a relatively small number of people who have already managed to spend a lifetime thinking about this problem. It has bred several academic disciplines and many sci fi novels and films. These related fields include pervasive computing, everyware and the buzzword du jour augmented reality (AR). All of these technologies produce ambient streams. AR, in particular, (which is focused mostly on methods of how to render information visually) is capturing the imagination of innovators around the globe. The underling technologies that allow devices to marry data to physical locations continue to evolve at a fast pace, and with other disciplines jumping into the mix the magic is finally starting to happen.

One only needs look at a teenager today as they do their homework, watch TV, play a game, and chat while watching their Facebook stream to get a sense for humanity’s expanding affinity to consume ambient streams. Their young minds are constanty tuning and adapting to an age of hypertasking .A very useful metaphor is that humanity is constructing its own synthetic sixth sense. An ambient sense that perceives the context of your activity and augments your reality with related information and experiences. Increasingly, we will be sensing the world with this sixth sense and that will change the way we collectively experience the world. Going back to the point made earlier, the watershed event is when we will be experiencing this “ambient sense” without being in a retrieval mode (i.e. not when we go to the computer or our mobile device to find information but rather as a product of our activity, location, and profile in context with the events and information available to us in a wired world).

We will be seeing the first swells of this coming tsunami in the years to come, but for our children the ambient sense will play a bigger and bigger role as it slowly evolves and weaves itself into their consciousness much like Google search weaved itself into their memory functions. The challenges we face in terms of making real progress stems from the fact that the overarching goal is one that requires a multi-disciplinary approach across a myriad of data sets. While there are many companies executing in each of the quadrants few are in a position to access the full scope of data and therefore the ability to create the Holy Grail of filters is limited. This is where the world of walled gardens and deals with major search providers presents a challenge for progress. Many iterations and mistakes need to be made before we arrive at the right way to collate and filter all these different streams of data into an ambient sense. If only one or two companies are in a position to iterate, progress will be very slow and the probability of success diminished. For success, it is necessary to create an ambient sense that will manage to balance the level of interruption with insight and arrive at the true goal of any sufficiently advanced technology, which is to be transparent and taken for granted as part of the human experience. It may sound like science fiction, but there are engineers and entrepreneurs out there already trying to make it fact.

Is it possible in the age of Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Apple for a startup to innovate across the entire stack to come up with this sixth sense? Chime in at #ambientstreams

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One Suggestion For Getting Higher Google Rankings

http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/marketing/article/the-little-known-secret-to-getting-page-1-google-rankings-steve-strauss
Want Page 1 search engine result rankings? Of course you do; we all do. Well, what if I were to tell you of a little known way that profoundly increases your odds of getting a Page 1 search engine result – might that be of interest?

I thought so.

The answer is video. But not just any old video. It has to be search engine optimized video. Properly post that, and according to a recent study by Forrester Research, you stand a 53 times better chance of getting a Page 1 Google ranking.

Yes, I know, the holy grail.

By now I’m sure you know all about search engine optimization – keywords and key phrases and incoming links and all the rest. The problem is, so does everyone else. That means that getting Google to think that your page is more valuable, more deserving of a high ranking than other pages, is harder than ever, despite all of your fancy SEO work.

That is where SEO video comes in.

What I am not talking about is simply putting a video on your homepage or some other desirable page. And similarly, I am not talking about submitting a video to YouTube and then embedding a YouTube player on your site. Neither of those will generate great Google results for your site because

1. They are not search engine optimized, and

2. Videos using YouTube result in click-throughs results for YouTube, even though the videos are re-posted on your site

But what will work – the magic bullet if you will – is video SEO. Video SEO is the process of using SEO tools with your video and then submitting the SEO videos themselves (not just the pages where the videos reside) to the various search engines.

Here is why video SEO is such an incredible Page 1 generator: First, search engines like Google are increasingly using “blended” search results – articles, video, pictures, and other forms of content. So video inherently gets more play because there is less competition for video results. And that is the second, and more important, reason. Because there is so much less of it, and because only very little of all online video is properly submitted with SEO, there is a disproportionate bias towards properly submitted SEO video.

You end up being a big fish in a very small pond.

So here is what you do:

1. Create some great video for your site. Note: Research indicates that if you have video on your homepage, up to 80% of your visitors will click that first, so it better be good!

2. Post it prominently throughout your site.

3. SEO it and submit it. Here’s the trick, and it is two-fold. First, you must optimize the video for search engines. That means key words and phrases must be used in the file name, in the captions, etc. Second, once posted on your site, you must then submit the video itself using XML tools to Google and the other search engines.

I know that last part may sound a little intimidating, but it need not be. There are some great online services that will submit the videos for you. For example, one I like a lot is Fliqz.com. Fliqz will, easily and affordably, index your pages and video, and properly submit them to the various search engines.

The upshot is that your videos and video pages should end up at or near the top of any default search results, the “Web” results, and not just the video results.

In fact, according to Fliqz, by using their “SearchSuccess” tools, “more than two-thirds of all videos submitted produce a first-page Google search result, and up to 25 percent have resulted in a number one Google ranking.”

Well, what are you waiting for?

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How Can Social Media Marketers Tap into LinkedIn’s Potential?

What about LinkedIn

This is a question I have been asking myself ….I have to admit I spend much of my time in larger social networking communities- namely Facebook and Twitter; – but LinkedIn; is one of those social networking communities where it feels like there is more potential to build a business brand than we know.

It does not have the mass following and hype of Facebook or Twitter…but there is a very active audience in this community that is ready to listen and engage in your conversation.  There are numerous features in LinkedIn that make it simple for marketers to conduct targeted searches and engage in meaningful (and sometimes lucrative) conversations.

How do we harness the potential of LinkedIn?  What can we do to bring value to prospective leads and the community as a whole?

I recommend checking out Lewis Howes article posted this week to find answers to these questions…… Top 5 Ways to Market Your Business With LinkedIn.  He literally wrote the book on tapping into the LinkedIn market when he co-authored ‘LinkedWorking: Generating Success on the World’s Largest Professional Networking Website’- so he may know a thing or two about LinkedIn.

Here is a summary of his 5 best practices tips…..Be sure to read his full article.  I look forward to putting all of these into practice and will let you know the results!

LinkedIn Tips From Top 5 Ways to Market Your Business With LinkedIn

1: Use LinkedIn Groups Receive Tons of New Leads Daily
Make sure you create a group that fills a need for the audience you’re targeting in your business field. This will ensure that every person who joins the group is a qualified lead……Here’s how to maximize your LinkedIn group:

1. Add keywords in the description of your group to increase your search rankings on LinkedIn’s search section.
2. Add keywords in the title of the group to be found on Google.
3. Add your company website or blog to the group to drive traffic to your site.
4. Add your blog RSS feed to the group so every new article is automatically posted to the home page of every group member.
5. Send a weekly message that adds value for group members and drives traffic back to your site.
6. Connect people in the group by making introductions to those who could potentially do business with one another.

#2: Ask (And Answer) Questions: Build Your Credibility with LinkedIn Answers

Here are some tips for answering questions….First, set up the “Answers Application” on the bottom right-hand side of your home page for the subjects you know best.

1. Research the person who asked the question, and find a way to tie in a personal response with something from their LinkedIn profile.
2. Be as helpful and resourceful as possible when answering the question.  Give tips, website links with additional information, or even recommend someone who is the best expert on that topic.
3. Leave the answer with an open invitation for more communication by asking them to contact you privately if they need any extra help.

All of these tips will help you gain the most out of answering questions, and will help you build powerful relationships that will grow your business.

#3: Create Powerful Events

Hosting an event is a great way to build your business (see events under the ‘More…’ news in the LinkedIn navigation bar).  LinkedIn has an events platform that allows you to target thousands of professionals for free.

Due to the viral nature of LinkedIn, once someone RSVPs to your event, it shows up on the home profile of everyone that person is connected to, spreading the message for you.

Creating an event on LinkedIn is simple.  Answer a few questions and start promoting your event.  Send an invitation to the people who would be interested in the event based on region or niche. You will notice a wealth of opportunities from hosting your own event.

#4: Run an Advanced Search in Your Target Market

The advanced search function helps you get in touch with the exact people you’re going after. Simply click on “advanced” on the top right side of your home page next to the search box.  This will take you to a clean page where you can input anything you need to find the exact lead you are seeking.  You can search by industry, keywords, company and title, to mention a few.

#5:  Send Personal Messages

Once you find leads, you want to send them personalized messages.  The best way to drop any walls—and give yourself the best chance of making a sale—is to connect with someone on as many personal levels as possible. Look at their profile, find out which companies they’ve worked for in the past, which school they attended, what groups they’re in, listed hobbies and who your mutual connections are.

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Holiday Video for Marketers and SEO Fans Everywhere….

Christmas is here, bringing good cheer- so I am sharing this clever, delightful video from the genius staff at Hubspot Marketing. Enjoy:

If Marketers Went Caroling, What Would They Sing?

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How to Protect Your Privacy on Facebook – A Must Have Guide

FacebookI am afraid that Facebook has aquired a really bad rep over time as a place for people to exploit themselves, their families, friends, and personal details.  I want to argue, however, that being a Facebook user does not mean that you will have to endure hackers and strange people peeping into your personal life.  Nor is it necessary for people to have multiple Facebook accounts- one for personal, and one for business. I have always believed that it is a far better use of time and energy to have just one big account- and carefully managing your contacts and how much access they have.

I am sharing this article written earlier this year, it is a well known resource to most Facebook users and referred to as the “Holy Grail of Facebook Privacy”.   When I advise our clients to set up Facebook accounts, and be active users in these communities- the very last thing that I want for them is to feel vulnerable and “exposed” to people they may not know.

If you follow the 10 guidelines mentioned in 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know by Nick O’Neill (revised this month)- you will  be able to breath easier.  Nick shows you how to do the following smart steps in “Settings” to ensure your account is seen only by those who you want to see it- and helps avoid potentially embarassing situations among your friends, family and colleagues.   Be sure to read his article and follow the steps outlined:

1. Using Your Friend Lists

2. Remove Yourself From Facebook Search Results

3. Remove Yourself From Google

4. Avoid the Infamous Photo/Video Tag Mistake

5. Protect Your Albums

6. Prevent Stories From Showing Up in Your Friends’ News Feeds

7. Protect Against Published Application Stories

8. Make Your Contact Information Private

9. Avoid Embarrassing Wall Posts

10. Keep Your Friendships Private

These are just ten ways that you can protect your privacy on Facebook. While there are a few other small things to keep in mind, these ten settings are most important. Keep in mind that while you may have turned off the visibility of many profile sections, there is no way to prevent all photos or videos from being visible if friends of yours make the images visible.

The best way to prevent embarrassing items from showing up on Facebook in the future is to not make bad judgements in your personal life. We’re all human though and being completely paranoid about every choice you make is probably not the best way to live your life. Be aware of what privacy settings are available and be conscious of what your friends may be publishing about you.

While you may not want to configure all of the privacy settings outlined, simply knowing how to do so is a great step in the right direction. By following the 10 settings listed above you are well on your way to an embarrassment free future on Facebook!

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Marketing Study Shows Social Media Marketing is Not Just a Trend- It is Becoming an Industry Standard

Because Social Media marketing is relatively new to most businesses, I find that lots of small-medium sized business owners are a bit timid about jumping into it.  Many are worried Social Media is a fad, and investing precious time and money is just not worth it.

I am always searching for articles that give good examples of Case Studies and other companies using Social Media – and found a great article in Inc. 500 about a recent study from the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and how mainstream Social Media marketing is really becoming.

To our clients who have already embraced Social Media as a way to build their brand online- congratulations for being a head of the game and I will work as hard as I can to keep you there!  To those who hesitate and need further proof that Social Media is becoming more standard in our industry, read this article:

Inc. 500 CEOs Use Social Media for Business

A new study shows that the use of social media is particularly prevalent among Inc. 500 companies and provides new insight on the role social media plays in running a business.
By Tamara Schweitzer | Nov 25, 2009

For the third consecutive year, the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, has conducted a study on social media usage among Inc. 500 companies. The 2009 results confirm the upward trend of social media adoption rates among some of the fastest growing private companies, and provide a useful comparison of social media trends from 2007 on.

This year’s study, which was conducted by researchers Nora Ganim Barnes and Eric Mattson, included 148 of the 2009 Inc. 500 companies. As with the past two years, respondents were asked about their usage and familiarity with six types of social media tools, including blogging, podcasting, online video, social networking, message boards, and wikis. In the past year, social media usage by the Inc. 500 has grown, with 91 percent of companies reporting that they use at least one social media tool, compared to 77 percent in the 2008 survey. And, of the six social media categories, the one that continues to be the most familiar to Inc. 500 companies is social networking, with 75 percent saying that they are “very familiar with it.”

To account for the rise in popularity of newer types of social media, this year’s study also asked respondents about their interaction with sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and MySpace. Not surprisingly, the study found that many of the companies have already embraced these sites for running their business, with Twitter being the most widely used of them at 52 percent of the total respondents. While Twitter and other social networking sites have seen significant growth in comparison to previous years, other social media tools such as message boards and podcasting declined in the level of usage. But despite lower usage of some tools in 2009, many companies that have not yet incorporated social media in their business operations say they intend to do so in the future. For example, 44 percent of companies without a company blog say they plan to start one, and 36 percent intend to use some form of online video.

Eric Mattson, CEO of research firm Financial Insite and one of the head researchers in the study, believes that the high reception to social media among Inc. 500 companies is significant for several reasons. “Inc. 500 companies are focused on doing anything they can to grow faster and social media is an innovative tool that may give them an edge over their competition,” say Mattson. Additionally, he says their status as private companies plays a role. “There is less implication for private companies using social media – they don’t have to worry about the stock market going up or down based on someone’s Tweet,” says Mattson. “And often in smaller organizations, there is more room for innovation because it requires less processes to adopt.”

In looking at the data from a longitudinal standpoint, it’s clear that it’s not just the level of social media usage that’s significant, but the way in which businesses are using it. As in years past, respondents were asked if they were monitoring their company name or brands in the social media space, and 68 percent said yes, compared to 50 percent just two years ago. Lastly, companies were asked for the first time if they are using social media to communicate with vendors and suppliers, and 34 percent reported using social networks as a way to communicate, while 26 percent cited Twitter as an important vehicle for communication. “From a big picture trend standpoint, these results show how prevalent and widespread social media is becoming in every aspect of business now,” says Mattson.

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Is Twitter Striking a Deal with Google & Microsoft?

All right all you Twitter Nay-Sayers.…pay attention- this is big.   Last week, the news broke that Twitter is in serious talks with Google and Microsoft about incorporating  their data, or “tweets”, into their Internet search results. The search toolbar added to Twitter earlier this year (allowing users to search for specific keywords used in Tweets in real time) has evolved into very popular method of conducting online searches.  As we have seen from recent major new stories (the Iranian Elections for example) Twitter users are finding key information on the latest news events and happenings in real time.

Why should business owners and marketers care about this developing relationship?  Because Twitter feeds could soon be integrated into the results of search engines- and if you are not using Twitter to connect to major players and influencers in your industry, you might be missing a big opportunity to position your brand to find more search engine traffic once this deal goes through.  I want to share some smart advice I found in What Twitter’s Deal with Google Might Mean for Marketers!

So, what should marketers do? Start connecting with influencers in your industry. Do keyword searches on http://twitter.grader.com/search  and find the influencers relevant to your business. Start sending them resources, responding to their tweets and doing whatever it takes to form relationships. You’ll need them to know about the content you’re creating, find it interesting and hopefully … retweet your stuff.

Great advice- this is a practice marketers ought to be doing any way. 

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Case Study: Dell Exemplifies How Social Media is a Critical Link to Your Customers

I was inspired to write today’s post because I wanted to share an article today from Richard Binhammer, a senior manager in corporate communications at Dell, posted on SmartBlog on Social Media.

Those who have worked with me know that I spend a great deal of time encouraging businesses to let go of their fears and embrace social media as a means for their message to travel efficiently and to build trust among their customers. What better way to do this than to encourage employees to share their valuable insight in social media communities?

In the article, How Dell took social media mainstream, Richard describes how communication tactics among businesses have changed since community driven social networks have taken such a prominent place in our society.

I think Dell is an excellent case study of a large business who has embraced this concept by encouraging their employees in marketing, sales, service and support, and product groups to engage with customers and each other via social media channels.

The social media model being used at Dell exemplifies the true spirit of engaging and listening to your customers. All businesses should pay attention and learn from their experience. Dell has benefited from platforms such as Twitter and IdeaStorm to share their brand, build trust with their customers and have received valuable feedback to make them an even better company.

Richard sums up what I have been trying to say for some time much more eloquently that I can:

After three years of experimenting, listening and learning, ….we have concluded that social media is ultimately about connecting and communicating across all aspects of our business….. While social media started as a way for Dell to distribute news and special offers, it has evolved into a critical relationship builder, integrated into all business units.

Here are three tips for getting started on integrating social media into your business operations:

* Listen first. Learn from what your customers are saying to establish your baseline.

* Engage employees internally through social media. Use blogs, Yammer or company-specific social tools to get people used to and excited about the platforms.

* Encourage employees to set up social media accounts. As you know, social media is addictive! Once people try it, not only will they be itching for more, they’ll be coming up with ideas for how it can benefit their team.

Ahhhh…Poetry!   Music to my ears!

-Amy Dunn

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Tagging Friends & Businesses in Facebook Updates (And Why This is Great News)

Facebooktagging

Tag your friends and favorite businesses in your Facebook updates!

Facebook has added a very nifty tagging feature this month so that it functions a little more like Twitter in certain capacities.  Facebook users now have the ability to communicate directly with another Facebook user or business by adding the @ symbol before their user name.

For instance…lets say I want to make the following update on my Facebook profile:

Amy is “Saying hello to everyone at Out of the Box Marketing “ or Amy is “Just read an interesting blog post from Schoodoodle” or Amy is “Meeting Becky Smith at the park”.

Wouldn’t this be so much more interesting and useful if there was a link to the Out of the Box Facebook page and the Schoodoodle Facebook page or to Becky’s profile?  To do this, simply type in the “@” symbol before the name of the business page or your friend’s profile and a drop down menu will appear for you to select the name. Upon name selection- the link to the business page or to your friend will appear live so it shows up like : Out of the Box and Schoodoodle

Those who use Twitter are already familiar with how this works- and understand why this is so exciting for businesses on Facebook. This feature allows:

  • More viral “buzz” to occur about business pages and groups in Facebook
  • More direct interaction between friends and businesses
  • The ability for businesses to have more direct and meaningful engagement with their fans. When you tag a fan of your business, they will receive notification and are likely to come back to your page and engage.

Here is the catch for Facebook admins (there seems to always be one!) that I learned after reading Jason Fall’s informative article Facebook Tagging for Business on Social Media Explorer today:

The catch is that you can only tag those who are your Facebook friends as well. If someone is a fan of your business, but not a friend of yours on the network, you won’t be able to tag them. As a result, you’ll have to think through having a professional account for yourself that you use to friend people who are fans of your brand. Some may not feel comfortable “friending” someone from the brand as well, but some probably will.

Confused? It’s ok. Just try it, go with it and see what happens. This does not over expose people because Facebook users still have to accept friend invitations in order to see their profile updates and information. In other words, the same privacy rules and settings will still in effect.

If I tag Becky Smith in my updates and someone in my Facebook network sees this update and clicks on Becky’s link- they will not be able to see her information if that person is not already friends with them. Becky also has the option of removing this tag.

This is a very exciting tool for social media marketers BUT I strongly encourage all admins of Facebook business pages to read Jason’s article and follow his 5 tips to best tagging for business practices:

Five Rules For Facebook Tagging For Business

1. Only tag people who will find the information you’re posting relevant. Throwing up a coupon and tagging all your friends is spammy. Use your update or email marketing features for that. Use tagging when you mention one of your Facebook friends showed up at your event and you were glad they came. It sends a personal “thank you” in a public way and allows them to see that you appreciate them.

2. Don’t tag the same people all the time. Just like blasting messages via email, when you get into copy and paste procedures, you become spam-like and annoying. Make sure you follow rule number one, but mix it up and tag different people in different messages, pictures or notes.

3. Set your notifications appropriately. The first thing most people noticed when the tagging feature was added is they started getting notifications of not just being tagged, but when anyone else responded to the item you were tagged in. Change those email notifications to get the exact information you want from Facebook and one that you don’t want or don’t need.

4. Be sensitive to your customer’s wishes. I would only recommend tagging people you have a great relationship with an know won’t mind you connecting them with your brand publicly. Your best friends … fans … advocates. Tagging a new person who has joined your Fan Page in a note or status update can seem a bit creepy if they haven’t had a chance to get to know you yet.

5. Encourage your employees, friends, followers and fans to tag your fan page when mentioning you on Facebook. It’s a simple act (just hit @ followed by your brand name or page name, then select) that places a link to your page or group in their updates. I would recommend, however, you ask in a way that is subtle and implies that you’d appreciate the gesture but it certainly isn’t required. Don’t worry. They’ll share the love if they really love you.

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New Marketing Clients

We are very excited about working with our five new clients
for everything from search engine optimization to social media plans.

  • D2000 Safety
    offers safety and rescue training.

  • Circle Foods
    is the manufacturers of La Terra Fina, Nuevo Grille, Tortillaland and Rotiland.

  • Acme Menu Covers
    offer menu covers to complement your restaurant’s atmosphere.

  • Take Wing Flying D
    offering pilot training, aircraft renting and testing.

  • Adopt International
    in San Francisco California arranges domestic and international adoptions

We hope we can achieve great results for them.

.

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What do you want from Social Media?

A recent white paper titled “Social Media: Embracing the Opportunities, Averting the Risks,” came out of a study conducted by Minneapolis-based Russell Herder and Ethos Business Law in July 2009. A total of 438 randomly selected management, marketing and human resources executives within companies across the United States completed the online survey, providing a statistical reliability of +/-4.8 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. The data showed:

• 81% believe social media can enhance relationships with customers/clients

• 81% agree it can build brand reputation

• 69% feel such networking can be valuable in recruitment

• 64% see it as a customer service tool

• 46% think it can be used to enhance employee moral

Which is important to you?  What are the best strategies for implementing social media? Defining and refining your goals is step one to crafting an effective Social Media plan.

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