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Sep 23, 2011   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog  //  No Comments

IS this posting to twitter?

What are People’s feelings of Facebook today?

Sep 23, 2011   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Facebook, Google +  //  No Comments

Facebook has three-quarters of a billion users and shows no sign of slowing down. Just this week it introduced a very Twitter-like and Google+-like function — “Subscribe” — and it is the social destination for millions of Americans, many of whom still do not tweet and never had a MySpace page.

Yet there are whispers that Facebook’s best days are behind it, and that it could be the “next MySpace” (or Yahoo). As far back as 2010, there was talk of Facebook fatigue. Some teens said they would quit, though they didn’t know where else to go. Now some suggest that those who forgo Facebook may head over to Google+, once it’s out of its closed beta.

The reality, though, is that we often complain about the things we love and use most. No one in my house has requested a Google+ invite. This is not surprising; virtually none of their friends or family — except me — are on Google+.

The consensus: Facebook is running cool to lukewarm. Considering I asked the question in the echo-chamber that is Google+, this response is hardly surprising. But many of the comments hit upon what I see as Facebook’s key faults and hurdles it must jump over the next three to five years.

One commenter said Facebook, which has added a number of new features in recent weeks, is finally “stepping it up” in the face of growing competition from Google+.

Those who still think Facebook is hot did admit that the game may change when “Google+ opens up”. A few hedged their bets, saying that Facebook was lukewarm, but also “sitting at its peak of interest.” I guess they expect Facebook to topple from its perch at any moment.

There were, however, some who could see outside the Google+ bubble. Antonio Moro wrote: “[Facebook is ] still King of the hill, very hot, and since G+ started: hotter as it’s pushing new features faster than ever. I still prefer to use G+, but this doesn’t matter.”

There were other begrudging admissions of Facebook’s dominance. Allan Petersen wrote, “I wish I could say “Not” with a straight face. Unfortunately, it’s so much more intertwined with current online culture than MySpace was. And they’re continually pushing updates. I say ‘warm.’”

Many said that despite the encroachment of brands, fan pages and confusing updates, they will stick with Facebook because their friends show no interest in moving to another social platform. The decline of platforms like Friendster and MySpace suggest that what people say and what they actually do may not be totally aligned.

Some said the MySpace analogy is off — or at least years away from being reality. It’s not a matter of Facebook being Hot or Not as it is “a signal of evolution. Facebook can’t be the bright shiny thing all the time.”

They are right, of course: nothing remains in the spotlight forever. Facebook is simply not the hot, fresh new thing. But the lack of pure heat doesn’t mean Facebook is going away. Few of us get excited about Sears, but the retail store survives, even in the face of competition from online megastores like Amazon.com. A little less heat, and a lot more focus on what its users want, is probably what Facebook needs anyway.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

What are People’s feelings of Facebook today?

Sep 23, 2011   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Facebook, Google +  //  No Comments

Facebook has three-quarters of a billion users and shows no sign of slowing down. Just this week it introduced a very Twitter-like and Google+-like function — “Subscribe” — and it is the social destination for millions of Americans, many of whom still do not tweet and never had a MySpace page.

Yet there are whispers that Facebook’s best days are behind it, and that it could be the “next MySpace” (or Yahoo). As far back as 2010, there was talk of Facebook fatigue. Some teens said they would quit, though they didn’t know where else to go. Now some suggest that those who forgo Facebook may head over to Google+, once it’s out of its closed beta.

The reality, though, is that we often complain about the things we love and use most. No one in my house has requested a Google+ invite. This is not surprising; virtually none of their friends or family — except me — are on Google+.

The consensus: Facebook is running cool to lukewarm. Considering I asked the question in the echo-chamber that is Google+, this response is hardly surprising. But many of the comments hit upon what I see as Facebook’s key faults and hurdles it must jump over the next three to five years.

One commenter said Facebook, which has added a number of new features in recent weeks, is finally “stepping it up” in the face of growing competition from Google+.

Those who still think Facebook is hot did admit that the game may change when “Google+ opens up”. A few hedged their bets, saying that Facebook was lukewarm, but also “sitting at its peak of interest.” I guess they expect Facebook to topple from its perch at any moment.

There were, however, some who could see outside the Google+ bubble. Antonio Moro wrote: “[Facebook is ] still King of the hill, very hot, and since G+ started: hotter as it’s pushing new features faster than ever. I still prefer to use G+, but this doesn’t matter.”

There were other begrudging admissions of Facebook’s dominance. Allan Petersen wrote, “I wish I could say “Not” with a straight face. Unfortunately, it’s so much more intertwined with current online culture than MySpace was. And they’re continually pushing updates. I say ‘warm.’”

Many said that despite the encroachment of brands, fan pages and confusing updates, they will stick with Facebook because their friends show no interest in moving to another social platform. The decline of platforms like Friendster and MySpace suggest that what people say and what they actually do may not be totally aligned.

Some said the MySpace analogy is off — or at least years away from being reality. It’s not a matter of Facebook being Hot or Not as it is “a signal of evolution. Facebook can’t be the bright shiny thing all the time.”

They are right, of course: nothing remains in the spotlight forever. Facebook is simply not the hot, fresh new thing. But the lack of pure heat doesn’t mean Facebook is going away. Few of us get excited about Sears, but the retail store survives, even in the face of competition from online megastores like Amazon.com. A little less heat, and a lot more focus on what its users want, is probably what Facebook needs anyway.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

IPAD: APPS THAT KEEP YOU ON TRACK

Sep 21, 2011   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, IPad  //  No Comments

Looking for apps to keep you organized? These six apps are perfect for keeping you calm, collected, and in control of any situation.

mom with iphone

SIMPLENOTE

Are you struck by ideas, thoughts, and remembrances at the oddest times? Jot a note with simplenote, it syncs with all your other devices, too, so your jots are easy to locate anywhere. Get Simplenote  at itunes.apple.com.

GROCERYIQ

This is like a grocery list on speed. You can build your list by scanning barcodes, share it, find coupons that correspond, and more; you’ll be saving money and not forget anything at the store. Get GroceryIQ at itunes.apple.com.

REMEMBER THE MILK

This app, available for the iPhone and Android phones, is about more than just remembering to pick up some dairy goodness. It’s a time management tool that lets you manage your errands—and even gives you maps to help you get there. Plus it’s flexible, you can create a list or a tag cloud, depending on what you prefer. Get it at rememberthemilk.com.

LOCKBOX

These days people are inundated with numbers, codes, and passwords; Lockbox is intended to help. It’s an app that stores sensitive information safely. Get Lockbox at itunes.apple.com.

LOSE IT!

Trying to lose weight? This app helps you set goals and keep track of your progress. You can even record your daily calories to ensure that you aren’t overeating. Get it at loseit.com.

TWEETDECK FOR IPHONE

When you love to tweet, you need an app that will help you stay on top of it while using your iPhone. TweetDeck for iPhone helps you stay in touch and on top of your social networking. Get it at itunes.apple.com.

Traditional versus Search Marketing

Sep 21, 2011   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, IPR, Search Marketing  //  No Comments

I had a very interesting experience today discussing theorems among several local marketing professionals and I must say the discussions got rather heated as I felt the struggles of traditional marketing professionals trying to understand the next *cough* current Search aka in my case IPR Firms fundamentals.

So I decided to take some of the traditional marketing topics and compare them to the search marketing industry:

  • Understanding the Consumer – This was one of the biggest points the panelists tried to drive home. No matter what the product, no matter who your client, the most important thing is understanding the consumer.

    As it relates to Search: Isn’t this the first step in search marketing, whether it be paid or organic? The entire keyword research process is intended to find out what the consumer is doing, what they are looking for and what they want.

  • Understanding the Client – Before beginning a campaign you must understand what the client wants and what their expectations are.

    As it relates to Search: One of the foremost topics when it comes to SEO and search is setting client expectations ahead of time. This not only has to do with the service you will be providing them but the results of that service. You must understand what the client wants and they must understand what you will be giving them.

  • A Big Idea – Several of the panelists talked about how a ‘big idea’ was used to start a campaign, sell a client or make an account successful. They repeatedly stated that a big idea was almost always necessary to creating a good campaign.

    As it relates to Search: While there aren’t always ‘big ideas’ to jump start a campaign, there are often big ideas throughout – The article that made it to the first page of Digg and brought 10,000 visitors or the keyword research that determined people weren’t looking for ‘product’ but ‘equipment’ and increased sales 35%. Big ideas often play a pivotal role in helping a client succeed but they don’t always come at the beginning.

  • Be channel “agnostic” – The discussion was that many agencies are still only focusing on television or only on magazines when there are other platforms that may be more effective. The most successful companies are those that figure out which channel and channel combinations are best for the client and leverage them.

    As it relates to Search: There are many different “channels” within the search industry – PPC, Organic, Paid Links, Social Media, Affiliate Programs, etc. It is important that we keep an open mind and never force a client to use a “channel” because it is successful for someone else. PPC may work great for one client but not for another. We too must be “channel agnostic”.

  • Use Metrics – There was a lot of talk about metrics and measuring failures and successes through reporting. Each company had their own way of doing it and each metric varied by client. The main point being, there are no set metrics across the board for TV, Print or online.

    As it relates to Search: As search marketers we often live or die by metrics and reporting (or as we like to call them, analytics). One of the greatest achievements as a search marketer is being able to show your client an upward graph detailing their traffic growth, leads and sales over the past year. But, like traditional media, every client is different and there are certainly no set metrics across the board.

  • Overcoming Agency Barriers – With many of the larger companies using two, three, four or five different agencies, cohesion can be difficult. The digital agency may have a great idea for a website banner but it doesn’t fit with the magazine layout the publishing company just developed. Many of these agencies have to figure out how to work with one another, whether it be through a liason or simply getting to know one another.

    As it relates to Search: You make a great recommendation, the web-marketing person loves it, they pass it on to the VP of web-marketing, who passes it on to the VP of marketing who passes it on…okay you get it. With larger companies (and sometimes small ones as well) there may be several channels you have to go through to get your recommendation approved and in place. It often takes figuring out who can make the most impact and getting them immediately involved.

  • Working with the Media – Apparently, there are times when agencies and companies struggle to get the TV networks and magazine publishers to work with them. When an audience member asked “How do I get the media companies to work with me”, the simple answer was “pay a lot of money”.

    As it relates to Search: Does this sound familiar? Switch out media with search engines – How do we get Google and Yahoo to work with us? why isn’t my client ranking? Why are there only 300 of their 3000 pages showing up? The only difference is, even when you pay a lot of money, they still may not work with you!

Overall, I learned a lesson I apparently wasn’t aware of – Search marketing isn’t all that different from traditional marketing when it comes to strategies and problems. While the terminology and mediums may be different, in the end we are all facing the same issues even thought the fundamentals seemingly are built from different directions…

Now why can’t we all get along?

There is No Such Thing as a Free Lunch??? or is there..

Sep 6, 2011   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Tips  //  No Comments

How do you work to differentiate yourself or your business from others online?

With better service.

Here’s a great example: CabinetParts.com knows that finding matching hinges is a pain.

So they let you email them a picture of your old hinges, and they’ll tell you what you need, for free. They also have a blog with helpful videos and tips.

It’s all home-made, inexpensive — and puts them at the top of the search results for “Find Matching Hinge.”

What can your existing team do to make it easy for new customers to WANT to call you?

 

CabinetParts

What is IPR?

Aug 29, 2011   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, IPR  //  No Comments

A BRAND IS BUILT WITH PUBLIC RELATIONS. EVERY INTERACTION YOU HAVE WITH YOUR PUBLIC EITHER BUILDS OR DAMAGES YOUR BRAND.

Internet public relations – interactions with the online media, bloggers, and the public, takes place on your website, blogs, and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Your content strategy is a key part of this brand building.

While companies are currently focused on getting their social media effort right, the “next big thing” for corporations is developing a content strategy that embraces all digital assets. An online PR strategy can help build a web presence that gets great search engine visibility, social interaction that deepens relationships with your stakeholders and builds your brand click-by-click.

The basis of good internet public relations is a comprehensive web content strategy based on keyword research, listening to the online conversations and learning from your customers, supporters, and detractors.

What is Thought Leadership?

May 1, 2011   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Thought Leadership  //  No Comments

Wikipedia defines it as:

Thought leader is a buzzword or article of jargon used to describe a futurist or person who is recognized among peers and mentors for innovative ideas and demonstrates the confidence to promote or share those ideas as actionable distilled insights (thinklets).

Thought leadership is an increasingly vital driver of business success. The term was first coined in 1994, by Joel Kurtzman, editor-in-chief of the magazine, Strategy & Business. The term was used to designate interview subjects for that magazine who had contributed new thoughts to business. Among the first “thought leaders,” were British management thinker, Charles Handy, who advanced the idea of a “portfolio worker” and the “Shamrock Organization”, Stanford economist Paul Romer, Mitsubishi president, Minoru Makihara, and University of Michigan strategist, C.K. Prahalad, author of a number of well known works in corporate strategy including “The Core Competence of the Corporation” (Harvard Business Review, May-June, 1990); and his co-author, Gary Hamel, a professor at the London Business School. Since that time, the term has spread from business to other disciplines and has come to mean someone who enlivens old processes with new ideas.

How I Started Blogging. What’s Your Story?

Apr 22, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing  //  No Comments

While today’s online media are abuzz with the latest and greatest social media tactics and tools, for many of us that have been around a little while, it was blogging that started our social media careers.

It’s funny to think that in 2002 a type of site called “blog” came up on my radar as a possible marketing tool. At the time, many blogs were personal diaries posted anonymously or by people with a little tech savvy and plenty of opinion. Writing personal thoughts on a public web site was absolutely the last thing I would ever consider doing.  However, it was a curious thing and I started a few blogs anonymously to see what it was like. Unfortunately, the excercise was so foreign, poorly executed and without feedback, that I deleted them.

In mid 2003 I began looking for online content outside of forums and started reading several SEO blogs including Search Engine Blog (Peter Da Vanzo), Search Blog (John Battelle) and Search Engine Lowdown (Andy Beal). Interestingly, only Search Blog remains what it was.

In December 2003 after using Blogger.com as a group blog software for a few collaboration projects I finally decided to start a blog under the  blogspot.com domain for TopRank Online Marketing, which by then, had been in business about 2 years.

As you can see from my “Hello World” post in Dec 2003, I had humble goals to post news and information related to online marketing.  We had a web site that pulled in a lot of search traffic, why would we need a blog? The reason was simply to see what blogging could do to get the word out about our expertise and to share information.  Blogging was very new territory and there wasn’t anyone to demonstrate best practices, so I set out to find what those were while sharing links, news and resources.

I suspect there are a good number of companies that treat other social media services the same way, whether it’s Twitter, Foursquare or building a social mobile app. It’s new territory and they want to find out whether those applications or sites would make sense in their marketing mix. The problem with that perspective is that it’s about the most inefficient and unproductive way to go about finding the right online marketing channels for a business.

The biggest mistake I made 6 plus years ago when I started blogging was not creating a strategy. As a marketer, I knew better than to chase a tactic, but I had no idea at the time how much of an impact blogging would have on our business. In other words, despite a lack of strategy, we were able to use our marketing savvy, curiosity and interest in connecting with the online marketing community to achieve many of the goals we set out to reach in our business. It just took a lot longer without that strategic plan.

Companies starting down the path of becoming more social in their culture to better connect with customers and to realize the marketing, PR, and customer service benefits from social media participation don’t need to waste that time.  Doing the homework of researching customers, setting goals and developing a strategy are essential steps towards a successful social media marketing experience.

Back to why I started blogging. The SEO community was a lot smaller in 2003 and 2004. Writing a post about anything to do with search engine optimization would be noticed and commented on by the small number of SEO bloggers. There were plenty of cross links and “hat tips” (whatever happened to those?) and openly shared opinions. Blogging even made a number of SEOs very popular, very quickly.

Blogging to get popular is the goal for some people and there certainly is some relationship between notoriety, awareness and credibility with the ability to attract sales.  The key (for me at least) is that creating awareness of oneself is simply a proxy to gaining visibility for your business. It’s not a goal in itself.  As a result, Ive been open about using visibility to help others and make connections.

The turning point for me in blogging was due in part to learning to liveblog at conferences.  Steve Hall of AdRants provided my first opportunity to liveblog at a ad:tech event  - an absolutely humbling experience for anyone that isn’t a natural writer. I met people like Frank Gruber and David Berkowitz at that event  in 2004.  I did some liveblogging for Barry Schwartz and Search Engine Roundtable after that which also provided great exposure and connections. Matt McGowan brought even more exposure opportunity by having Online Marketing Blog as a media sponsor for SES conferences. There’s a huge list of people that have been very helpful over the years, especially our longtime readers.

Since then we’ve published a lot of content and provided a lot of insight into holistic SEO and online marketing topics. During that time I think the most important thing I’ve learned is to find your voice and stick to it. Don’t try to be what you’re not. It simply doesn’t resonate with readers or with the goals you’ve likely set.

Whether it’s blogging or other types of content and networking, I think the real value from online publishing in a social context is of course,  being social.  Blogging has been a great experience in terms of developing relationships with people I would have never connected with otherwise. It has definitely served as a platform for making connections in the industry that have led directly and indirectly, to a lot of new business.

I started blogging personally as an experiment and found a process and strategy along the way that has helped grow our business and the online marketing/sales performance of many of our clients.  Long time blogging provides ample opportunity to make and learn from mistakes. Blogging also allows us to continue to be a resource while sharing our expertise with potential customers, partners and employees.

We’ll be going through yet another evolution with Online Marketing Blog in the next month or two and I wonder about the experiences of our readers that also blog:

If you’re a blogger, why did you start? What’s your blogging story? Did you start as an experiment? Did you start with a strategy? What was your biggest mistake? What have you learned?


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How I Started Blogging. What’s Your Story? |
No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

Can a Business Utilize the Power of Facebook?

Apr 21, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Facebook, Online Marketing, Social Media  //  No Comments

By now, most people know what Facebook is. Yes, Facebook is a social utility, but what does that mean? How it works and what it can do for the business person – and this is where its true power lies.

For the business person, it means that your business contacts, your profile, business groups, targeted prospects, social media applications (and many other), can all be under one online roof. It means that through information sharing, you can find more opportunities to network with other business people. Not to mention the opportunity to be a better resource to more people in your market.

Here are 8 more reasons to start using Facebook for business today.

1.   The very nature of Facebook is viral.

Here’s just one example.

Each time you log into Facebook, the home page gives you updates of everything your connections have done that they chose to share since the last time you logged in via their profile. And when people visit yours, your mini-feed at the top of your profile page is one of the first things they’ll see, which contains your own updates.

With this capability, you can virally drive news to your Facebook connections. If they find what you’re doing interesting, and take action on it, those actions are driven to their network as well.

In this way, your news can be driven far beyond your direct reach.

2.   Facebook is the ultimate in social presence marketing.

Social presence marketing is the activity of promoting by participating in the pre-existing conversation around your target market, in a way that enhances and uplifts the dialogue, rather than intruding upon it.

In Facebook, it’s easy to make such contributions to the community, and for people who want to know more to find and contact you. If that wasn’t enough, the audience is often already targeted and organized.

3.   Your target market tells you exactly what it wants, and they’re easy to find.

Each person who joins Facebook has the option of filling out an extensive profile. You can browse or search profiles by keywords, or find groups and events by keywords filled with people who gather in the name of a common interest.

For example, if you had a business that sold weight loss supplements, you could join groups about fitness. Instead of leaving marketing messages, you can relax and be open with your advice. Those who want to learn more, or hire you, will follow you back to your profile, where they can continue to communicate with you, or be led back to your website.

4.   Over half of the people using it, use it daily.

Think of how many subscribers or monthly visitors you have. How many of them, honestly, visit you daily? What if you could increase that number simply by having a presence in a free tool they use daily already.

The opportunity exists in Facebook. Of the 35 million people currently using Facebook, half of them are using it daily. Why do they do this is the key observation here.

There’s no way I can speak for 17 million people, I can only tell you what I see. And what I see is that people who log in daily connect more with the people and information around them. Why can’t that be you, and your information?

5.   Better, stronger online connections.

Facebook goes the extra mile in helping you find a basis for connection to the people you know, or would like to know.

Conversation starters include common interests, status updates, and upcoming birthday reminders. Information sharing is immediate, passive, viral, and costs nothing. You can control the quality of data by controlling the quality of the people you’re connected to, and vice versa. Therefore people who understand Facebook are careful about the quality of their connecting news.

6.   Hard core marketing is out of vogue and declining in effectiveness.

The traditional online sales-letter may continue to work with trusted audiences, but it’s beyond dispute that improvements to this model are changing the way sales take place online with new clients, not to mention how different the lead generation stage has changed with the progression of social media.

In English that means that while the way your present clients buy from you probably doesn’t need as much tweaking, the way new people meet you is shifting every day. All online marketing interactions are becoming more transparent – the visitor doesn’t need to take an expert’s word for it. They can become their own expert, do reputation checking on their favorite guru, and can now search for, and find the majority opinion on their business of choice.

It’s becoming more important to make a better impression on your audience before they actually show up at your site. With Facebook, contributing knowledge and resources to the conversations taking place is what brings more people to you, faster.

7.  Your clients — and your competition’s clients — may already be on Facebook.

With 35 million people registered, and new signers showing up so fast, that by the time you read this, that number will have changed – someone from your desired online demographic is on Facebook.

Why is this different, this time? What does it matter that your clients use Facebook already?

Because with Facebook comes a completely different way for you to build trusting relationships with your clients and prospects. Since they must join your group, or add you as a friend to interact with you, it’s completely opt-in.

You’ll be able to have deeper interactions with them, through photos, videos, private messages, public messages, or through custom applications you can build or use to enhance their experience with your company.

8.    Facebook friends are willing to continue the conversation.

Facebook is for social information sharing and interaction. It makes sense that people who are already in the mode of action would continue interaction with you or even follow you to your site.

The traffic to your site isn’t, by far, the most important benefit of Facebook for business. It’s worth noting, but the real opportunities with Facebook are to get better information, faster, and to have better social connections to both existing and new contacts, be they client, friend, acquaintance, or colleague.

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