Browsing articles in "Social Media"

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.

Benefits of using Twitter in Business

Apr 20, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Brand Recognition, Online Marketing, Search, Social Media, Twitter  //  No Comments

For businesses, there are a number of benefits to using Twitter. Many of which deal with the real-time gathering of information. Here are some ways that businesses should be leveraging Twitter.

  1. Participating in Industry Conversation – your target audience and/or potential prospects are on Twitter where they may be discussing their frustrations or are communicating positive experiences. Why not be a part of that? Participate in the conversation when it makes sense to do so. Thinking of Twitter as the newest type of social mixer to engage with your industry.
  2. Brand Awareness – businesses can use Twitter to keep their brand top of mind. Whether you are Gene Simmons (@genesimmons) promoting an upcoming Kiss concert in Windsor, Canada or Toys R Us (@ToysRUs) promoting the latest Transformer toys, Twitter allows a business to keep their brand out there for people to engage with.
  3. Use Twitter to gain Competitive Intelligence – hey guess what? Your competitors are on Twitter. As a result you might want to consider monitoring their tweets from time to time to see what they are working on. Perhaps they are preparing to launch a new product or are opening a new branch. Heck maybe they are going through massive layoffs and an opportunity presents itself to acquire them or at least hire some of their laid off employees. Twitter can be a great environment for monitoring what the competition is doing. It can also be a great way just to see how your competition is using Twitter themselves. Perhaps you can pick up a tip or two.
  4. Engage with your target audience – Twitter allows you to interact with potential prospects and your target audience. While you do not want to be "in their face" all of the time, Twitter does allow you to engage with these people by re-tweeting their posts or responding to something that they may have tweeted about, which leads us to …
  5. Online Reputation Management – information on Twitter breaks quickly. The reported death of Michael Jackson on June 25th, was one example of this. Businesses can use Twitter to monitor what is being said about their brand almost in real-time. If someone had a negative experience with your brand, chances are they may tweet about it. If so, work to address the issues and communicate the fact that you are doing so. Remember Twitter is a social environment so transparency and honesty can be a good thing.
  6. Promote your Blog Content – if your company has a corporate blog or various blogs, you can use Twitter to promote your blog content. Heck you can set up a feed to automatically post your blog post URLs directly to Twitter.
  7. Twitter and Mobile – because Twitter is so simple to use and is limited to 140 characters, mobile use with Twitter is also easy. You can both send and receive updates what you and your friends are doing on the go using a simple SMS. Twitter can be a great mobile communication tool. As we know in business, this can be a pretty powerful thing.
  8. Understanding Tool – Businesses can use Twitter as an understanding tool to learn what their desired target demographic is saying and looking for. For example, if you are a brand that targets a younger target market, just by listening to their conversation via Twitter, you can learn what their latest interests are and what’s the next shiny new object that they are looking to latch on to.
  9. Feedback Mechanism – launching a new product? Perhaps you are launching a new website? Businesses can use Twitter to obtain instant feedback on these items and as a result make any necessary changes before the formal launch. This feedback can be invaluable and by using Twitter, it is free!
  10. Promotion – of course you can use Twitter as a promotional tool to announce offline endeavors or upcoming online events (webinars, virtual tradeshows etc). If you are an e-commerce site, perhaps you have a deal of the day where you can promote these deals such as how Toys.com is currently leveraging Twitter @toysdeals. The fact is you do not want to be too promotional, but Twitter does present the opportunity to promote your products or service and brand to your friends.
  11. SEO Boost – if you have great content on your website and you want to drive additional traffic to this content on your website, you can use Twitter to do so. A quick tweet with the URL can help drive additional traffic to a preferred landing page on your site to help coax the conversion on your site.
  12. Ask Questions Receive Answers - those who do not ask will not receive. As a business, perhaps you are looking for a specific answer to a question that you have. Maybe you are looking for some industry stats. You can use Twitter to pose the question and if the question is engaging and if your friends are remotely interested in the same question, you should receive a response. Twitter is a social community and usually these social communities are tight knit. Someone is bound to answer your question and at least point you in the right direction.
  13. HR Tool – while this may not be the best way to go about your hiring practices, you can tweet about your HR needs and link to relevant job postings on your site via Twitter. You just might receive some additional interest that you may not have otherwise had.
  14. Press Release / News Management – Have a major announcement? Use Twitter to promote your press releases and to communicate company news. Remember our earlier discussion on Internet Speed? News travels fast online, Twitter is another information super-highway that can help communicate news quickly.Internal
  15. Communication Tool – while not many businesses think to do this, but you can use Twitter as an internal communication tool within your business. There are various ways to do this. Of course one of the best examples of this is Zappos, who encourage employees to tweet. http://twitter.zappos.com/. Again the timeliness of the information plays a key role in using Twitter as an internal communication tool. While we have instant messaging, using Twitter to communicate internally can also be an effective way of sharing information within. Of course there are pros and cons to this, but use your discretion

Top 5 Search Terms at Online Marketing Blog – Including Pirates

Apr 16, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Search, Social Media  //  No Comments

Here on Online Marketing Blog, we post a tremendous amount of insight on organic  search optimization and content marketing related topics each month. But how about the site search tool on our own blog? Who’s searching for what, and why? And what are they finding?

Mining the site search report from Google Analytics can be very useful since it’s an indication of what our visitors want to read more of. Here are the six most popular site search terms for Online Marketing Blog including our favorite, “pirates”.

1. Facebook

With Facebook taking off as a top channel for social media marketing, it’s no wonder that them comes up as our leading search query. Just consider the recent numbers:

  • Facebook boasts more than 400 million active users
  • 50% of Facebook users log on during any given day
  • More than 20 million Facebook users become fans of pages every day

A quick Online Marketing Blog site search for “Facebook” yields recent posts on tools for sharing microcontent, insight on social media advertising and how to leverage channels like Facebook to take advantage of real-time search.

2. Twitter

Speaking of popular social media marketing channels, Twitter takes to No. 2 spot for most common site searched on Online Marketing blog. Twitter may only have less than 106 million users compared with Facebook’s 400 million. But consider how quickly Twitter is growing and how active its users are:

  • New users sign up at the rate of 300,000 per day
  • 180 million unique visitors visit the site every month
  • Users post an average of 55 million tweets a day

So what can you get with a search for Twitter on Online Marketing Blog? Learn more about the role of news in blended search or find ways to electrify your social network.

3. Books

Who says print is dead? “Books” turns up as our fourth most popular search term.

Here on the Online Marketing Blog, we’ve posted reviews of some of latest most intriguing marketing online marketing books like “The Art of SEO.”

Plus, we’ve conducted exclusive interview with some of the hottest marketing authors out there, such as David Meerman Scott, author of “The New Rules of Marketing.” We’ve even polled our readers on the best available books on SEO.

4. Social Media

These days, social media isn’t just a hot topic for B2C marketers looking to connect with consumers on sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Social media is equally as relevant in the B2B world. In fact, 91% of business buyers read blogs, watch user generated video and participate in other social media, according to Forrester Research.

A “social media” search on Online Marketing blog pulls up posts on setting and measuring goals for business blogging, which social media sites are the biggest time wasters and the risks of sponsored blog posts.

5. Email Marketing

Contrary to predictions, RSS never did replace Email. Social media and network use and status updates or microblogging haven’t “killed” the popularity of email either. In fact, there have been reports that Email use is actually up. So it certainly makes sense that our readers are looking for more information on email marketing.

A search for “email marketing” reveals some insight posts including, “5 Top Email Marketing Tactics for 2010“, 5 Tips for Effective Email Copywriting” and “How Social Media & Email Marketing Boost Customer Reach“.

And Finally: Pirates!

Few things seem less relevant to Online Marketing Blog than pirates. Yet somehow it’s one of the most searched terms on the blog.

So what do pirates have to do with Internet marketing and Web 2.0? There is an answer in this social media marketing post, we promise. Hint: It has to do with Dave McClure.

Are you analyzing the top search phrases on your web site? Are you using that insight to guide your site content?


© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Top 5 Search Terms at Online Marketing Blog – Including Pirates |
No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

Comment Management Tools You Should Know

Apr 13, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media  //  No Comments

What is Comment Management?  Virtually all blog software offers commenting functionality, so why would you need a 3rd party comment management service?  Many of the comments and “reactions” to content posted on a blog never make it to the blog itself – the source of the conversation.

Comment Management tools provide all the expected features and also pull in mentions & citations of the post as well. That way when someone reads a post on your blog, they can see comments made directly on the post as well as mentions made of of the post on other sites like Twitter.

Should you add a comment manager tool to your blog? It depends how much of your social engagement is happening off your blog and also whether you feel it will add to the user experience to see a collected list of on and off site interactions. For many blogs, citing comment and reaction counts is simply a matter of social proofing and popularity. For others, it’s an attempt to harvest all the conversation about a post at the source.

To help you decide, here are the three main comment management tools to consider:

ECHO from JS-Kit offers a wide array of features. It can be embedded on a blog or static web site and pull in comments from Twitter, Digg, comments from other blogs, FriendFeed and several others. Commenters can choose to promote their comments simultaneously to Twitter, Facebook or Google Friends. Sites like Technorati and Guy Kawasaki use ECHO.  We tried JS-Kit but didn’t like not being able to show comments on top of the off site citations under each post.  JS-Kit ECHO Live is $12/year and ECHO Live white label is $48/year. There is also a PRO version with many other controls and features with costs according to page views ranging from $195 to $1995 per year.

Disqus, as you may have noticed, is the commenting system we are currently using on Online Marketing Blog. Disqus lets readers choose their identity, via: Facebook Connect, OpenID, or Twitter Sign-in, when they leave a comment. Comments can be threaded and the moderation dashboard is easy to use. Off site references to your content on Twitter, FriendFeed, Digg, and YouTube are pulled in as “Reactions”. You can sort comments as we do, on top, then show the reactions below. Readers can choose to cross post their comment to other social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.   You can edit comment content but not the names of commenters, which is frustrating because some spammers write really useful comment content but spam them hell out of their names and links. The base version of Disqus is free. Disqus VIP offers much hand holding support and analytics. Cost is not disclosed on the site so it must be very expensive.


IntenseDebate was acquired by Automattic, the company behind WordPress and therefore, can be easily added to WordPress blogs as well as TypePad, Tumblr or Blogger blogs. There’s comment threading, notification by email, commenter profiles and points, moderation, cross posting to Twitter and several other features.  IntenseDebate is free.

Which comment management tool is right for you? It depends on your use. If you have a static web site and you’d like to add comment features, then ECHO might be a fit. If you want something that offers all the basics and works natively with WordPress then maybe IntenseDebate is your pick. If you want more features and also don’t want to pay anything, then it’s possible Disqus is the choice for you.

The great thing about these tools is that they are easy to install and test out.

Here are other reviews you might find useful on these comment management systems.

  • Blog Comment System Shootout: Disqus vs. Intense Debate vs. JS-Kit Echo – 40 Tech
  • 3rd Party Comment System Roundup – Dave Mosher’s Blog

Although I pinged Facebook and Twitter connections for examples of other 3rd party comment management tools that pull in off-site citations, I didn’t hear about any. I didn’t find much on Google either. There are other comment management services, tools and plug-ins, just not any (that I’ve found) that automatically pull in 3rd party mentions of your content.

If you know of other comment management systems that pull in comments from other social media sites, please share in the comments. Do you use any of the the tools mentioned above? What has your experience been? What features would you like to see added?


© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Comment Management Tools You Should Know |
No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

DoubleDutch: Foursquare for the Enterprise

Apr 12, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media  //  No Comments

SXSWi

The buzz on geolocation marketing is hot. Recently Lawrence Coburn released the beta version of DoubleDutch, a platform for creating your own geolocation check-in app, ala Foursquare. I connected with Lawrence to ask more questions about DoubleDutch and to get tips for marketers that want to incorporate geolocation and review services into their online marketing.

First, can you share a bit about yourself and your company RateItAll? We spoke on a panel several years ago at Pubcon and I remember that you have a great story about how your company started and really exploded with media attention.

Sure, RateItAll is a story of endurance. I ran it out of a coffee shop for years (along with a number of other niche sites). By 2007 it had started to grow to a point that I couldn’t handle it by myself. It was making decent money, but I was struggling to keep the servers up. Mathew Spolin, our CTO joined us in 2008 and we were able to go out get a little funding for it. We now have a team of seven based in San Francisco’s Mission District.

double dutch appCongratulations on launching your new project, the iPhone App: DoubleDutch. I appreciate getting a pre pre alpha view of it and now you’re really added some great features – especially the ability to white label it. What prompted you to create DoubleDutch and how is it different than Foursquare and Gowalla?

Lee, you were actually one of the first people to see DoubleDutch in the wild. We’re really excited about it – it has been called “Foursquare for the Enterprise” and “Ning for Mobile Social Networks.” We’re OK with both of those descriptions.

We had been eying location based services for a long time. I was an obsessive user of Dodgeball (the SMS precursor to Foursquare). By the time 2009 SXSW rolled around, Mathew and I were determined to do something with location. We approached Foursquare to team up on a reviews + check-ins combo, but weren’t able to get their attention.

So we set out to build the thing ourselves, leveraging RateItAll’s massive database of geo tagged data. Over the years we had signed a number of geo data partnerships, giving us a big advantage in entering the location fray.

Our goal was to put together a collection of mobile, social components that could be remixed and customized by white label partners. In addition to the check-in functionality, some of our features include game dynamics (leaderboards, achievement stickers, and “Rockstardom,”), ratings and reviews, photo uploads, Facebook / Twitter integration, and many more. This app was in development for more than 6 months and we’re quite happy with how it turned out.

Our big difference from Foursquare and Gowalla is in our emphasis on reviews. We think there is an endemic relationship between a social check-in and a review of a local business. Just as Amazon has been able to leverage sales data to convert more reviews than anyone else, we think that check-ins are the first step towards posting a review.

We also believe strongly in the concept of “The community IS the social graph.” What I mean by this is that on public networks like Foursquare or Gowalla, you need to recreate your social graph for the apps to get any value from the service. Not so on a private network like DoubleDutch. You can imagine an app white labeled for a conference like Pubcon, in which every attendee could see the check in activity of other attendees. Think about what a boon this would be for networking – no more just heading to the lobby bar and hoping for the best. And because everyone was there for Pubcon, no friending would be required.

Are widgets still sexy?

Of course! Just not as sexy as geo at the moment. In fact, I’m not posting much on Sexy Widget any more. I started a blog called Location Meme a few months ago with a friend. The folks at The Next Web took notice, and invited me to be an editor at that network’s Location blog, and that’s where I’m doing most of my writing now.

double dutchBack to DoubleDutch. Not only is this a (another) geolocation iPhone app, but you’re offering companies or organizations the opportunity white label the DoubleDutch platform to create their own location-based iPhone app. Who is your target and how do you see them using it? What are your plans to make it competitive with the other apps out there that are already well entrenched?

Our three target verticals right now are Conferences, Hotels, and Universities. We think that almost any community that is tied to a location could benefit from a location and knowledge sharing service, but we needed to narrow the universe down a bit. Conferences and Hotels are interesting because they typically are communities of people who are converging on a new city looking for recommendations and interaction. DoubleDutch helps on both counts. Universities are interesting because of their tie to a specific geography, and the demographic. You can check out some sample use cases on DoubleDutch.me.

How does the Double Dutch app tie in to your main business, RateItAll?

Great question. We are seeing signs that DoubleDutch has the potential to become our main business, with RateItAll taking a supporting role. RateItAll provides a tremendous foundation for the service, with its massive amount of geo tagged data, and its 4M+ reviews. Our server infrastructure is key as well as it allows us offer SLAs to our clients. Also, all check in, ratings, reviews, and photo activity is aggregated on RateItAll.com, making DoubleDutch another content collection channel.

You were at SXSW, who won the geolocation prize there? Gowalla or Foursquare? I guess that’s a loaded question. What did they do right? Did you see any big mistakes?

I think geolocation won the geolocation prize. Both those services got a big boost, but I think the whole space benefited from all the attention. At DoubleDutch, we are huge fanboys / fangirls of both services and wish them only the best. If you believe that Enterprise trails Consumer by two years (which we do), the faster that those services blaze the trail, the faster that DoubleDutch will grow.

Please share 3-4 best practices and tips for companies that want to use geolocation based mobile apps to market their businesses?

I think it really depends what kind of business you are. If you are a local business, you don’t really have to do much other than ensure that your address info is up to date on the mobile services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, and of course, RateItAll. If you are a bit more savvy / experimental, you can try offering discounts / giveaways to Foursquare Mayors, and try and incentivize your customers to check-in and push to Twitter / FB.

If you are a big brand, perhaps it makes sense to try and cut a deal with Foursquare or Gowalla to sponsor some Badges. Lots of companies are cutting these sorts of deals, and it’s a good way to drop your brand into the experience of those apps in the context of the location game.

But if you are a big community, it might make sense to use a service like DoubleDutch to create a more pervasive connection with your customers / members / employees and extend your community out into the real world. Social check in apps are not only fun, but they can be productive. We’re talking to companies with some pretty innovative ideas for putting geo to work – for example, a real estate company wants to put this app in the hands of their agents to encourage more property visits, and help those agents capture photos and thoughts about each property. We have been amazed at how creative some of these companies are.

What about tips for marketing within the consumer reviews marketplace overall? How important is it for companies to be active, whether it’s editorially, through advertising or offline promotion with services like Yelp, Epinions or even RateItAll?

I strongly recommend that businesses be active on the big review properties. Being active does not mean being confrontational and bullying – it means engaging thoughtfully with customers, even the insane and / or angry ones. If you suspect cheating, don’t call out the customer – go to the host site. Most of these services allow commenting and messaging – on RateItAll, which is the 9th biggest review site, we see a number of big brands on the site every day making use of the free tools like commenting and messaging to engage their customers. Some of those folks pay us for access to a few more tools, but you don’t need to have a budget engage your customers.

One question I like to ask smart and busy entrepreneurs like yourself is: How do you stay current with technology and marketing? Do you have favorite events, books, blogs, networks or some kind of crystal RateItAll ball to keep you on top of what’s important for the future of your business?

RateItAll

I read and write as much as I possibly can. Writing makes me smarter about a topic, because I don’t want to come off as a moron. It takes a lot of research to write a post. Sexy Widget was born out of my desire to get smart about widgets, and my role as Editor at the Next Web was born out my desire to get smart about geo. In terms of reading, I hit Techmeme and Hacker News all the time, and also get a lot of good links from Twitter. My two favorite blogs are AVC and CDixon.org.

Living in San Francisco, I have access to a number of technology meetup type events – I try and hit a couple per month. There’s nothing better than talking to entrepreneurs, because for them, predicting the next big wave is life or death. I tend to listen to folks running companies more than I listen to journalists.

Thanks Lawrence.

You can download the Double Dutch app here. RWW did a great overview with screenshots here.

Lawrence Coburn is the founder and CEO of RateItAll and co-founder of the white label geolocation app,DoubleDutch. In his spare time, he is an editor of The Next Web’s Location blog. Lawrence is also a mentor at Ventures.io, a San Francisco based technology incubator.


© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
DoubleDutch: Foursquare for the Enterprise |
No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

5 Ways to Leverage Real Time Search in Your Online Marketing Mix

Apr 9, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media  //  No Comments

real-time searchSince late 2009 when Google introduced real time search, the concept has gained a lot of attention.

Today, real time search is at the top of the priority lists for all the major search engines – Google, Bing and Yahoo!.

As part of the new technology, Google is combines live updates from sites like Twitter and FriendFeed with the latest news headlines and blog posts in search results.

For web searchers, real time search means the ability to discover breaking news the minute it’s happening.

For marketers, it presents a whole host of opportunities to increase online visibility. Here, we’ve provided five ways to leverage real time search in your online marketing efforts.

1. Develop the type of content that supports real time SEO

With real time search, frequently publishing online content becomes a must. Try incorporating these three types of content to support both traditional and real time SEO programs:

  • Tweets and Facebook fan page updates: Micro content from social sites now has the ability to appear in search results. It’s quick and easy to frequently post Tweets and Facebook fan pages updates, so both should play a big role in your real time SEO content strategy.
  • Blog posts: Blogging presents the opportunity to help your content rank and show thought leadership at the same time – since blog posts can offer more valuable information than micro content.
  • Optimized press releases: By optimizing press releases and submitting them through authoritative newswires, you can help your content achieve high rankings.

2. Mobilize your fan base

Creating a core group of brand advocates is important for a number of reasons. They recommend your products and services to their friends and family, defend your reputation in times of trouble and are more likely to adopt future products and services you introduce.

Now add one more benefit to the list: Brand advocates – particularly authoritative ones – can link to your content to help keep in the real time stream.

In addition, brand advocates who are active on social sites like Twitter can create their own content about your company that can appear in real time search results.

3. Know what’s hot in the news

With real time search, it’s important to recognize both what users are searching for online and what they’re discussing via social channels – at this very minute. Create frequently updated content that speaks to the latest topics and trends, and is optimized for the latest search terms.

A variety of tools exist to help monitor search and conversation trends:

  • Google Trends: Use this free tool to find the hottest topics and hottest searches in Google
  • Social Mention: Determine the strength, sentiment and reach for terms used throughout the social web, including blogs, microblogs, social networks, video sites and news sites
  • BlogPulse: Find the top blog posts, key phrases, new stories and more from across the search universe or related a specific topic
  • Delicious: See the types of content that goes wild across the social web
  • Trendistic: Learn trending topics in Twitter over the last 24 hours, week, month or more (see image below)

Trendistic shows “online marketing” trends over the past 30 days.

4. Time your content promotion efforts wisely

Give your content an extra boost by monitoring when blog posts, articles and other online content are indexes in Google News or Google Blog Search. Then ensure tweets, Facebook fan page updates and other social content promotions are timed right after the content is indexed. Doing so will help you take advantage of every opportunity to appear in real time search results.

5. Optimize your web site and online content for mobile technologies

Real time search is relevant on many mobile devices, including Android and iPhone devices. So Web site optimization for mobile technologies becomes even more important.

Consider these few mobile SEO tips:

  • Limit the use of images
  • Keep the design simple and clean
  • Test to ensure your site appears as it should across various mobile devices

The bottom line is, it’s crucial to take advantage of every real time search opportunity that comes around. Remember that these opportunities won’t stick around for long – presenting themselves quickly and then disappearing. It is real time, after all.

Have you implemented real time SEO into your online marketing mix? Tell us what best practices you’ve found so far.


© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
5 Ways to Leverage Real Time Search in Your Online Marketing Mix |
No comment | http://www.toprankblog.com

Losing Time on Social Media

Apr 7, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media  //  No Comments

social mediaSocial media is everyone’s shiny object in the digital marketing world. Personally, professionally and otherwise, millions of people worldwide are switching from other information and entertainment channels (or multitasking) for social destinations online and on the mobile web.

I know there are a good number of early adopters that read Online Marketing Blog and since you’re probably prone to trying the latest apps and tools, there are undoubtedly certain types of social media sites that have really turned out to be a time suck.

That assumption leads us to our 60th Reader Poll! (pick up to 3)

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post’s poll.

No, I didn’t include online games of any kind in this poll because, while they can absolutely be social, I consider them to be inherently time wasting. Whereas the sites/tools listed in the poll above have at least the remotest possibility of helping people become more productive.

If your top time waster isn’t listed, please share in the comments. I’d also like know your preferences on topics for future Reader Polls. If your suggestion is picked, we’ll give you credit and a nice juicy link when the poll is run.


© Online Marketing Blog, 2010. |
Losing Time on Social Media |
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Sponsored Posts – Measure The Risk Carefully

Apr 5, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media  //  No Comments

Sponsored posts have been a hot topic in the blogosphere and among marketers the last few years.

What exactly is a sponsored post?  The simple answer is:  a company pays a blogger cash to blog about their product or service.  This is different than an advertorial since the blogger is paid cash to write the content as opposed to the sponsor creating the message.

An entire cottage industry of companies such as IZEA, Smorty and a slew of others have sprung up to offer a variety of methods to pay for sponsored posts.  Some require bloggers to say good things.  Others tell bloggers they are free to write what they wish.  But in either case, there are potential risks involved marketers should be aware of.

Many digital audiences appear to have an  issue with sponsored posts because they see it as a breach of unwritten editorial rules of the web.  It is for that core reason sponsored posts remain controversial.

For the purposes of this post, I am just talking about cash for blog posts.  This a different animal than offering sampling, trials or demos of products.

Let’s dig into why sponsored – aka cash for blog posts – are something you should measure the risk of carefully:

Sponsored posts may draw the eyes of the engines

Cash for blog posts could be risky behavior if the sponsored links are follow links.  Matt Cutts at Google has publicly stated that paid posts should not affect search engines.   A simple solution for companies brokering sponsored posts is to require the no-follow attribute added to links within the content.  Some pay-per-post companies offering this service state they require it.  Some bloggers may adhere.  But many bloggers have no idea what a no-follow attribute is and may not follow this guideline.  Additionally, bloggers and marketers engaging in outright cash-for-play are involved in risky behavior even with no-follow links.  This is due to halo effect of linking in the social web, and may walk a thin line with the engines who are paying attention to these campaigns.

Before engaging in sponsored posts, consider organic outreach

More than 80% of bloggers are already writing on products and brands.  In other words: be remarkable, have great marketing/PR and you’ll be talked about.  Learn the intersection of social media and PR, begin content marketing and engage in strategies that inspire natural coverage, conversation and influence.  The organic approach yields the highest results: since sponsored posts must have no-follow links, the SEO and PR intersection does not exist.

Sponsored posts may train audiences to expect cash to write about you

By engaging in sponsored posts, you may succeed in training audiences to expect a return every time they mention your brand or product.  Instead of growing in an organic fashion, sponsored posts may keep your brand out of the natural conversations and put you on a treadmill of having to pay cash for coverage.  And that’s not a sustainable way to grow a web community.

May be seen as inauthentic

Due to FCC rules, all sponsored content must be disclosed.  With this disclosure and transparency, readers see the content was influenced by cash, not the author’s true perception of the product or brand.  This potentially destroys the true power of word of mouth.  It affects the blogger as well:  they may lose the trust of a carefully built audience.  Audiences may not believe a blogger thought a product was great because that blogger was paid to talk about it.

Sponsored posts are advertising – not social media

Companies who pay bloggers cash to write about them are engaging in advertising, not social media.  Would you pay someone cash to talk about your company or product at a party?  What would everyone else at the party think?  That’s exactly what happens on the social web when users see bloggers taking cash to write up products.  So if you think it’s a risky play to pay people cash to talk about your brand or product in person, it’s equally so online (perhaps even more so since the web is referential).

Organic push methods do exist

Newswires, article submissions, advertorials, syndication products, and other paid methods of gaining exposure amongst web audiences exist.  The social web as a whole has less issues with these services because they are not paying individuals directly to talk about them.  Rather, they are paying to have their messages added to areas they will be found – and then reacted to – without cash going directly to users or leveraging a personal brand for influence.  Communications professionals can use paid tools to cross the editorial line with less risk than directly paying cash to individuals.

Conclusion

Forrester research has been touting the positives of sponsored conversations.  Jeremiah Owyang says they are here to stay.  There are companies engaging in this tactic and doing fine.  I’m not ruling the tactic out entirely, but I do wish to caution marketing and PR professionals to weigh the risk carefully.  Sponsored posts may run counter to a social media marketing strategy focused on inspiring organic attention and building a community based on trust.  They do not provide the SEO benefits of organic outreach.  Consider your larger objectives and strategies carefully and ask yourself  if sponsored posts are the tactic for you.

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Sponsored Posts – Measure The Risk Carefully |
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3 Tools to Help You Share Microcontent Online

Apr 2, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media, Twitter  //  No Comments

Over the last few years, the concept of microblogging has gone from zero to hero. Just a few short years ago, the terms “microblogging” and “microcontent” were known only to early adopters.  These days, the only thing “micro” about microblogging and status updates is character count. Consider a few recent statistics:

  • There are nearly 40,000 Tweets a minute, according to TweeSpeed
  • Last year, Tweets grew 1,400%, while traffic to Twitter.com grew around 1,100%
  • More than 60 million Facebook status updates are posted every day

When it comes to microblogging sites, customers and prospects are either there, or those that influence them are. Microblogging can take on a life of its own – with users making connections, developing relationships and publishing content all from within.

Are you unsure of how to best leverage microblog connections and microcontent for other online marketing efforts?  One answer: cross-publishing or syndicating microblog content to other channels.

Fortunately today there are several tools available to help you and here, are three:

1. @anywhere

Twitter is in the process of rolling out a new feature, @anywhere, that will allow users to syndicate Twitter content to virtually any online channel without sending visitors back to Twitter.com. Not only that, but the syndication process will be as simple as dropping a few lines of JavaScript.

Initial participating sites include Amazon, eBay, Digg, Yahoo!, The New York Times, Salesforce.com, You Tube and several others. With @anywhere, visitors to these sites will be able to follow Twitter users, retweet content and search for new Twitter accounts – without ever having to leave the website.

Here’s what it could someday mean for your organization:

  • Customers reading a blog post written by your CEO could follow him or her on Twitter directly from your site
  • Prospects viewing a video on your website could retweet the content without leaving the webpage

2. Google Buzz

Google Buzz

The latest social media player to enter the game is Google. Its recently launched Google Buzz tool is built into Gmail and enables sharing of updates, photos and videos all from within the inbox. The tool connects with sites already in use, including Twitter, Picasa, Flickr and Google Reader.

Essentially the tool enables Gmail users to leverage the personal email contacts already made, as well as the entire Gmail community at large, to engage in conversations and share microblogging content.

Google Buzz goes beyond just status updates, though. It automatically pulls images from links and enables users to respond to content without ever leaving Gmail.  Whether Google Buzz attains the popularity of Facebook or Twitter remains to be seen.

3. Facebook Connect

Facebook Connect

Facebook Connect

With Facebook Connect, marketers can create more engaging experiences on their websites by allowing site visitors to bring their Facebook life with them. Facebook Connect pulls Facebook users’ profile information, photos, connections and more directly to your website.

Facebook Connect creates what it calls a “viral sharing loop” on your site by:

  • Making it easy for site visitors to share your content with their Facebook networks
  • Enabling you to show visitors what’s most popular on your site with their Facebook friends
  • Allowing visitors to comment on, review and rate content on your site

Other tools that make it easy to share microcontent incude: ping.fm, HootSuite or socialoomph.com.

What tools do you use to cross-publish or syndicate your microblogging content to other channels?

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