What is your social media strategy?


What is your social media strategy?  Are you a bigmouth? A “like” weasel?

I was reading a Social Media Dudes post called “5 Types of Social Media Strategies” and they have really hit the nail on the head about the varied types of approaches that are taken to Facebook marketing.

1)      The bigmouth. The bigmouth never shuts up about themselves. This is the company where every post is a one-way broadcast of marketing messages. This means non-engaging posts about new products and content that includes links to watch your new commercial.

A great example is the Hyundai page, whose idea of engaging content is “High-five your screen if $0 down, plus bonus cash savings on Sonata and Sonata Hybrid sounds awesome.” Huh?

Don’t be a Bigmouth!

2)      Like Weasel. This is the company where every post is a “like if.”  This is the most shallow way to share your message.  Sure you may get people to fall for it, but the result will not build lasting engagement.  I can see using a like-grab every so often, but you need to dedicate your page to creating value, not to generating hollow likes. If your content is good, you shouldn’t have to prompt people to share it.

3)      Promotion. Hotels.com can’t shut up about the deals they are offering.  How about building a little engagement so people don’t stop following your page, like I did?

Don’t be a social media hoe!

4)      One Hit Wonder. This is the prompt that says “help us get to 1,000 fans” or “help our video take off.” The problem here is that you are getting clicks based on getting your fan count up.  What then? Are these people going to buy from you? Probably not.  You haven’t created any bond between customer and company. You’ve become a social media hoe!

5)      The ones who do it right. Please read this great post from Valeria Maltoni.  A quote: “Getting started in this way of thinking is simple: put a big post-it next to your workspace that says, “how does this help the user kick ass?” and then ask the question about everything. Every feature consideration, every paragraph, every slide. Never quit asking. You will begin to know when you have deviated into something that makes YOU look like YOU kick-ass, because your justification will sound weak even to you :)”

There are a lot of ways you can create value for your user, which I have gabbed about endlessly in previous posts. You don’t need to tell them how great you are if you’re providing value, they’ll figure it out. Now shut up about yourself!

Advertisements

The Myth of SEO


The myth of search engine optimization

Slay the mythical beast known as SEO.

I’ve been to many meetings and job interviews where I am asked “What do you know about SEO? We want to make our page more search-optimized.”

This is the first sign you are dealing with someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. There is a common misconception that SEO is some mystic practice where the right combination of keywords will put you on the front page of a Google search, and many web marketing groups would be more than happy to perpetuate this myth.

The truth is that Google’s ranking formulas are always changing.  The way to boost your pages searches is to create content that people like. That means you may need to actually transform your website from a corporate-mission-statement billboard into a place where people come to for valuable information and come back on a regular basis.

Keep your content fresh! Stale page = stale search results.

Keep it fresh

Give me a reason to come back to your site.  Find some way to update content frequently, at least in some part of the site.  That could be through a blog, a newsroom, photo galleries, videos or something great that I haven’t even thought of! Stale site = stale search results.

Give it away now

This requires you to give something away.  I don’t mean promotional t-shirts.  I mean information.

If you run a tax service, offer a weekly tip on financial fitness or deductions people might not know about. If you make carburetors, host a car-talk blog on your site.

Turn your site into a place where people know they will find new and engaging content on every visit.  Also, don’t be afraid of giving away your valuable information for free.  When you see restaurants giving out free samples, there’s a reason.  They know you’ll like it and you’ll come back when you’re hungry. If I read your baking tips every week, guess where I will come when I need a wedding cake? That’s called building affinity.

listen to your customers

Are you listening to your customers?

Listen to your customers

Instead of brainstorming terms you think are most important to your business, use Google Analytics look at the monthly keywords that are bringing people to your site. These are the keywords that are important to your customers, and they may not be what you think they are. Your customers are telling you what they want – are you listening?

Make it sociable and sharable

Okay, now that you have started creating great content on a regular basis, make sure people can share it.  Add social sharing options to all of your content and maybe even allowing comments on your blog posts or videos.

Consider creating interactive forums where customers can share tips and even troubleshoot product problems (saving you some customer service headaches). Your experts can participate in the forums too – a great way to monitor what people are saying about your company/products and to see any possible PR crises before they hit.

Also, use a strong social media presence, email marketing and a solid website to support each other.  You can read more about this concept here.

Say ‘so long’ to SEO

Now I want you to put your hand over your heart and swear that you won’t ask anyone about how to improve SEO again.  The truth is that SEO is a byproduct of having a site that provides information that is helpful – a site that people like, visit frequently, and share with their friends. You won’t get good search results just by being there – you have to be worth finding.

Until next time…

Optimizing and boosting your YouTube Rankings


Figure 1 – check out all of the search terms people used that landed them on a tennis instructional video. Expand your keyword!

Heidi-ho friends!

I was reading this article by Chris Sietsema about optimizing your YouTube content. I think the author is mostly right on, but I’d like to augment his ideas with a few tips of my own. Remember, YouTube is searchable, and anything that is searchable can be optimized!

1)      Make entertaining content. I think entertaining is the wrong word here; it conjures up painful images of corporate suits ordering the marketing department to create a “viral video.”

I think a better word to use is relevant.  Make your videos relevant.  Every business has knowledge to share. It’s just a question of when and how you share it.

A good example is this video about the odds of filling out a perfect NCAA bracket. This video was released just before the 2011 NCAA tournament and got the majority of it’s views around that time.  Now, you may be thinking, “Hey, this video only has 5,000 views.” However what you are not noting is that this video will be relevant every March, anytime someone searches YouTube for “perfect NCAA bracket.”

Sietsema also cites the ingenious “Will It Blend?” video series, which manages to make product demonstration entertaining.

The “Will it Blend” series is a great example of entertaining YouTube marketing and it costs almost nothing to produce. The videos are brief, informative and entertaining. Plus, they provide tangible product benefits.

Find some bit of important knowledge that your business can add to YouTube and start to plan not only what you will release but also when would be the right time to put that content forward.

One more note – keep it brief. I would keep your video at three minutes or less if possible.

2)      Find your keywords. This is absolutely essential in order to get your video noticed.  Whenever you upload a video, you have the option of adding keywords.  Think of any possible search term that someone interested in your video might use in the YouTube search box.

Take a look at the search terms people plugged in that brought them to this instructional/promotional video about tennis lessons (figure 1). The video profited from those searches by adding in keywords like Serena, Roddick and Sampras.

Additionally, Sietsema notes the importance of the YouTube Keyword Tool.  This is a great, free resource that allows you to see the top search words that have led people to videos on that topic.  You can also past in the URL of a video and see the search words that brought people to that video.  Try it now – and then incorporate the phrases that have garnered the most searches into your keywords.

Don’t worry about making the most polished video in the world. Just make something that is interesting, brief (three minutes or less), authentic and – hopefully – entertaining.

I encourage you to check out the rest of Sietsema’s article, where he goes into detail about optimizing video on your website. More so, I encourage you to think about ways you can create optimize your YouTube presence for improved marketing.

Until next time…

Backward thinking on mobile sites


Oh, I hate surfing the web on this mobile phone. I wish I had kept my AOL subscription!

I was just reading “5 Reasons Why Mobile Browsing Isn’t That Important” by Hernán Gonzalez, and I was shocked at how backward thinking some of his theories are about mobile websites.

The quote that I find most bothersome:

“Research shows that users access the Web predominately via legacy browsers such as Internet Explorer on desktop or laptop computers. Numbers show that only about 1.47 percent of Web browsing is done through mobile devices, according to the well-renowned W3schools. That said, sacrificing the online experience to ensure that a website is mobile-platform-compatible can be very counterproductive in the long run.”

The operative word there is “in the long run.”  I think it is becoming fairly evident that in the long run more and more people will become mobile-only users.  Especially as the smart phone makes the web accessible to those who cannot afford a phone and home computer and home internet.  The smart phone alone will make the home computer a luxury rather than necessity.

Another problem with “in the long run” is this: most companies cannot afford to update their websites very often.  If you are in or approaching the design phase right now, you need a website that will be what users want both today and in five years.

If you have a website that is interacted with by consumers on a regular basis, your site had better be able to function well on an iPhone.

If you are IBM, a mobile-ready site is no big deal; you are interested in large-scale business deals.  But if you run a local sandwich shop, you’d better believe that a lot of your business is coming on mobile devices.

More misconceptions about mobile users

Gonzalez claims phone users have issues with usability, notingBrowsing the Internet on a mobile device is not easy for many users – it can be difficult and time consuming. Problems interacting with sites and completing tasks, such as filling out forms and clicking on buttons, are also not as simple on mobile devices. These types of issues have caused many users to avoid using the Internet on their mobile phones.”

Who are these “many users”?  Are they under age 60?  Are you designing for yesterday’s users or today’s and tomorrow’s?

In reality, we should be using the mobile site as the template for our larger site.  If the site is hard to navigate via mobile, it may be too complicated overall.  Good web design should start with the mobile site. That way you can get to the true essence of your site — the stuff that is really important — and strip all of that bullshit and clutter off of your homepage. Keep it simple, stupid!

He also notes, ” An overwhelming amount of users are unable to connect or receive a strong signal in many locations worldwide.”

Well, allow me to retort. As the mobile market proliferates, so will the access to Wi-Fi. Technology expands to meet consumer demand.  Again, this is Gonzalez looking to the past instead of the future.

I’ve seen the future, and it works

In summary, this article is all kinds of wrong.  Plan your site for the user of today and the users of five years from today.  Anticipate your customers’ needs so you are ahead of the game. And by all means, create a mobile version of your site!

 

From Mashable: YouTube ‘Suggested Videos’ Now Favor Longest-Watched


I just saw this article and thought it fit nicely with the article I posted on Tuesday about crafting successful online videos.

YouTube ‘Suggested Videos’ Now Favor Longest-Watched

By Lauren Indvik

YouTube has altered its suggested videos algorithm to favor videos that are watched for the longest periods of time.

Previously, suggested videos — which appear as related videos on watch pages, or recommended videos elsewhere on youtube.com — were served up based on the number of people who clicked on those videos. Now, YouTube videos that trigger the longest viewing times will be prioritized.

In a post, YouTube said the change was instated to serve up better and more relevant content to audiences. But it also seems to penalize those who create shorter videos.

A 30-second video that averages 25 seconds of viewing time is less likely to be recommended than a four-minute video that averages 28 seconds of viewing time — which makes us wonder if this isn’t more about delivering impressive engagement numbers to advertisers than bettering the experience for YouTube visitors.

Facebook Timeline for Businesses: Good, bad or ?


A look at the new Timeline for businesses.

I’m sure you’ve all heard that Facebook is converting business pages into timelines in the next few weeks. You can check out the image to see what time timelines will look like.

The question is: how will this help or hurt your Facebook page.

Pros:

On first brush I think it helps because people will be able to see more of your posts. With two columns of information, your posts with photos will be larger and more attention grabbing.

It also makes it much easier to go back in time looking at old posts.  This can help you when trying to catalog old posts and makes it much easier for fans to browse your past Facebook posts.

You can also add historical items to your timeline, like the year your company started or your 10th business anniversary.  This helps you humanize your brand to users – a good way to tell customers your story through words and pictures. Now the timeline does not just cover your time on Facebook, but as much history as you want to cover.

Also, users can now sort through your posts by type (videos, pictures, likes), social stats (friends likes), and time of posting (posts made last month or two years ago).

You'd better brighten up those posts if you want to compete!

It’s really pretty remarkable.  I’m looking at posts from years back that I had forgotten about – it’s amazing to see your progress as your Facebook presence develops.

Please read this great blog post from Acquaintances with an Autodidact Alumna about some great ways to take advantage of the new page.

Cons:

If you aren’t adding images to your page, your Facebook timeline is going to be one sorry sack! As the rise of Pinterest demonstrates, marketing is becoming increasingly visual – infographics, images, videos, etc.

Think of this as your opportunity to start planning more ways to add some spark to your page.  Straight text posts are going to be lost in the shuffle as pages become living works of art that sum up a life – or a business!

Until next time…

Bring your gun! Be prepared to enter social media combat.


Clint Eastwood with guns

You new to Facebook, hombre? You'd better arm yourself with a social media plan!

Hi gang! I wanted to take a minute to guide you to, and comment on, an article by Krista Neher: “5 Biggest Mistakes Businesses Make in Social Media Marketing.”

By all means, I encourage you to read Neher’s article, but I’d like to put in my two cents on a couple of her points.

The “If You Build It They Will Come” Mentality

I’ve been working with someone recently on improving their web and social media outreach.

The owner noted to me, “I made the Facebook page, but nobody’s looking at it.”

This is a classic mistake. Just because you open a restaurant, that doesn’t guarantee business – look how many businesses go under every week. You have to incentivize people to come in and come back.

As Neher notes, “Consider that an average person on Facebook is connected to 130 people, and an additional 80 pages, groups, and events. If each of these updates five times a day there are over 1,000 updates that an average person can be exposed to on Facebook each day.”

Just like we have a lot of choices about where to spend our money, we have a lot of choices about where to spend our online attention (and as I have said many times, attention is the currency of the social media world).

We have yet to enact my plan, but you can see the company Facebook page here. My aim is to improve the content and to help them construct a true social media plan.  This is going to take a while, but if you like, keep an eye on this Facebook page and we’ll see if I can make something happen.

Not Having a Clear Plan

Would you go to a gun fight unarmed?  That’s what countless businesses do when they jump into social media with no plan!

Neher says this perfectly: “Probably the biggest reason that most businesses don’t get results from their social media marketing is that they don’t have a clear plan. Since social media accounts are free to create, most businesses create them and start posting ‘stuff.’”

Like the page I cited above, there is no clear cut plan for continued engagement. People don’t often think about their audience. Who are you talking to?  Why are they coming to your page?

People just say, well everybody’s on Facebook, so we need to be on Facebook.  Wrong! You should only be on Facebook if you have some way to contribute and create value for customers.

Once you know that, a simple posting calendar will help you arrange your thoughts into a clear plan, so that you will never be short of content.  Don’t feel like you have to slavishly adhere to the calendar.  Use it as a guide.  If you have something more pressing to post, do it.  This is your back up.

Are you operating with a clear social media plan? Do you use a calendar?  Let me know your thoughts! Until next time…