Are You A Social Media Expert?

Below is an awesome article from Ian Lurie about all the experts out there in the social media field. Enjoy.

If you know more than 5 people, chances are you now know someone who declares themselves a social media expert. How can you tell if someone’s claim of expertise is legit? Here’s my quick quiz. Ask each question and take the appropriate action:

1: Do you have a blog?

If the expert answers ‘no’, that may be OK. Follow up with something like ‘Oh, you’re using Posterous instead?’. If they look at you blankly, end the meeting there. No sense wasting your time.
If the expert answers ‘yes’, get the address and go look. If they’ve been blogging for less than 2-3 years, and there’s no explanation like “I had to move my blog”, again, end the meeting.
Any social media expert has been somehow participating in the conversation for a long time.

2: When did you start in social media?

“6 months ago”. Yeah. OK. Bye.
“2 years ago”. Hey, not bad. Worth a chat.
“In 1992″. Er. Um. They’d better be referencing BBSes and Usenet.

3: What is social media?

“Blogging and Twitter and stuff”. Excuse yourself for a bathroom break and don’t come back.
“All of the conversations going on between people and people and businesses and such online”. Not bad.
“A trendy term to describe a new kind of mass media”. Totally acceptable.

4: What’s a social media campaign?

“Voting something to the front page of Digg using my proxy server and 35 computers”. Flee the scene, and get to a minimum safe distance as soon as possible. The Digg brigade may be on its way. Whatever you do, don’t hire them. While this is a valid tactic (I guess), it’s not a campaign. Nor does it generate long term results in most cases.
“Developing a great message and then reaching out to people, while giving them an incentive to ‘pass it on’”. Yeah, OK, keep ‘em around.
“I have this great software that will put a link to your site on 21,000 forums and 10,000 blogs…”. Push them down the garbage chute. Don’t be seen with them in public.

5: How do you monitor social media for a client?

“Huh?” Hopefully your next step is obvious.
“Google alerts”. Not bad, but wait and see if they add in stuff like subscribing to Twitter searches and the like.
“I use a 3rd party tool”. Fine, but make sure they do more than plug in some keywords and wait for e-mails. A human being needs to review what the tool reports or its worthless.

6: How do you measure ROI?

“Oh, shut up”. Perfectly OK, especially if the expert turns purple for a moment first. They’re just sick of hearing this question, which means they’ve been around the block a few times.
“It’s complicated, but here’s a high-level view…”. Nice!!!
“I track clicks from Twitter”. Nope, sorry.

7: How do you build an audience?

“I auto-follow 20,000 people on Twitter”. If you’re OK with it, kick them in the groin for me. If not, nod politely and move on.
“I follow interesting, relevant people on Twitter, comment on relevant blog posts and try to get into the conversation”. Home run. Try not to weep with joy.
“We need to figure out the campaign first”. Good answer. Give them a hypothetical campaign to be sure, but clearly you’re on the right track.

8: Do you offer a guarantee?

“Yes, I’ll get you 1000 links and 20,000 clicks”. See number 7, first action.
“Yes, that I’ll work my butt off for you”. I like it.
“No, because we’re marketing to people, and it’s hard to say what they’ll like/not like, or what might happen in the world that will affect behavior”. Also good.

9: How did you learn all this stuff?

“Oh, I read this book I bought from Amazon.com”. Wargh. By the time that book went to print it was out of date. No go.
“I’m always learning”. Good answer.
“I read a lot of blogs, and try to use as many different tools as I can”. Also good.
“I go to conferences”. Yeahhhhhh. Might be OK. Answers to the other 9 questions should tell you.

10: How does social media impact SEO?

“It doesn’t”. Slap them and tell ‘em that’s from Ian.
“It builds links”. That’s half the answer.
“It builds relationships that turn into links later”. HIRE THEM NOW.

Bonus question: How often do you write?

“I hate writing”. Cough.
“Oh, I try to but I don’t have much time”. Cough. Cough.
“Every day”. DING DING DING. A winner!
There you go. An instant social media expert evaluator. Sort of like a Cylon Detector, but hopefully more effective.
By the way, print a copy of this. If you get word-for-word answers, you might think twice.

 

Is Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Right For Your Business?

With billions and billions of  people on the World Wide Web every day, it is safe to assume that a lot of people also use search engines. So how do they use them when they are looking for local products and services? Public data and studies indicate that as many as 80% of potential prospects turn to the Internet first when looking for a local product or service. When was the last time you picked up your phone book to find a vendor or to do research? Phone books are still used but are a thing of the past for most consumers, and the new yellow pages are local internet directories and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. I know it, the search engines knows it, and if you resist it, there is a good chance your business may a thing of the past too. But is PPC right for you and your business?

1. Highly Targeted – Unlike direct marketing and other forms of advertising your ad will only be served (appear) when a prospect is actively searching for your type of business (typed into your pre-selected “keywords”)

2. Tracking – There is an old marketing adage that says “I know I am wasting 50% of my marketing budget, but I don’t know which half.” You can’t improve what you can’t measure and PPC advertising is very easy to measure. With search engine marketing (SEM), you are able to track every aspect of your campaign.

3. Testing – You can quickly and easily run A/B testing for both ads (to drive leads) and different landing pages (to convert prospects).

4. Performance Based – It is the only advertising available that you only get charged if a prospect actually takes action (clicks on your ad). This actually is a second form of qualifying. The prospect not only is actively searching for your type of business, but actually liked your ad enough to click on it.

A word of caution before you run off and start pouring money into your PPC campaigns. Though, there is no denying that, when executed correctly, PPC can be a leading sales driver and profit builder, it can also drain your marketing budget if you aren’t careful. Read and study as much as you can about PPC and how it works. It is also recommend you start out small and learn what works and what doesn’t and then scale up your budget when you begin to get the hang of it.

If you need assistance or have questions about Pay-Per-Click advertising, please contact me at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com.

Twitteriffic

Staying organized is an important element of anyone’s workday, and Twitter offers several ways to let you keep track of your to-do lists.

  • RememberTheMilk is a quick way to send reminders to yourself and others via direct messages. Just DM (direct message) @rtm and your task. To send errands to others, they must also be registered with RememberTheMilk. You can add text commands to the list for tasks that are repeated often, and this could be a handy tool for communicating with your children or partner when it is time for dinner.
  •  Toodledo is a high powered to-do list with many features. You can receive task reminders as tweets and you can import or export lists from other sites, making this an even more useful list builder. Lists can be viewed in different configurations, depending on your preference. Toodledo can also be used for time management by sending reminders when assignments come due.
  •  Nozbe is a practical project and time management application. You can create and sort multiple to-do lists for each project you are working on. You can tweet Nozbe to leave a message in your inbox when you are on the road, then deal with it when you return to the office. This app is most useful for business users who need to add reminders or improve productivity on the job.
  •  Producteev helps you manage your tasks no matter what device you prefer to work from. Send your job-related emails to Producteev, and the application will update your to-do list in real time. You can also add jobs to your list by tweeting a direct message. When you publish a request to your social media account, your friends and followers will be able to comment on and help you complete the task. Producteev offers a range of premium options, based on number of users and storage space required. 2 users and 100 MB of file storage is offered free of charge.

A Lot of People Are Using Facebook

According to emarketer.com: Facebook usage has grown steadily in the past two years and will continue on a solid trajectory. eMarketer estimates that 132.5 million people in the US will be using the service this year; by 2013, that number will increase to 152.1 million. Read the rest of the story here …

Having an active presence on Facebook can have the potential to help you get found in the search engines. Setting up a Fan Page on Facebook therefore, should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. If you need assistance or have questions, please contact me at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com.

Did I mention that content is really important?

One of the most common mistakes people do when they are building content is thinking only of the search engines. They will stuff in keywords even when they make no sense. Even if you do get past the Search Engine filters and spam detectors, what happens when someone actually lands on this page? What is the point of having someone come to your site only to find the content makes no sense? Wouldn’t you leave? You are better off spending more time or paying more for content that a visitor will find valuable. Also, good quality content will stand the test of time.

When you build good content, the links will come. When you have good content, other websites will link to you to make their sites look better. I have found that if you write about a relevant topic and then go out to the expert bloggers and notify them of it, they will usually reference your content and link back to you.

This one tip is for sure, content is forever. Links, metatags and other SEO (search engine optimization) techniques come and go but content has always been relevant at some level. Don’t look at your content task as an ongoing uphill climb. Get in a ritual of writing 1 page of content every other day for your site, or find a partner that will. Within 2 years, you will have roughly 350 pages of unique, indexable content on your site. Search engines will love it, your visitors will love it, you will benefit from it for years to come!

It doesn’t have to be award winning content to make a difference. Many people get stumped on what to write about. Just write! Read an industry publication to get the ideas rolling. You don’t need a 5,000 word essay that will change your industry. Just write about a topic you were challenged with recently. Write about how great your employees are, write about a new portion of your product or service that few know about. Just write!

Of course if you just don’t have the time to create content or just what to pay someone to do the job for you then you can always hire a freelance copywriter like myself.

Posting Strategies on Facebook

An interesting article at emarketer.com for businesses regarding posting strategies that encourage feedback on Facebook. Companies should consider the day, time, and content when writing posts.

You can read the rest of the article here ….

If you or your company need help with your Facebook page or would like to discuss a strategy to ensure you are getting the most out of this powerful social networking tool then please give me a call at 208.598.0084 or email me at matt.shifley@yahoo.com.

 

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Basics

Before you begin more complex search engine optimization (SEO) techniques you must ensure that your website is “search engine friendly.” This means making sure that each individual page is compliant with search engine standards and ready to be indexed correctly. Follow each of the steps below for each page on your site.

Page Title: The title of the HTML page should be relatively short and describe the page content accurately. Wherever possible, try to include keywords (without distorting the true purpose of the title). For example:
<title>McGrath Discount Office Furniture Store</title>

Meta tags: Use the description and keywords metatags in the head of each web page. Make these tags different on each web page.
<meta name=”description” content=”Suppliers of quality office furniture and accessories at discount prices.”>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”furniture, office, store, shop, retail, discount”>

Heading Tags: Use heading tags. Many search engines place more emphasis on text within heading tags, so make sure they use keywords. Use one <h1> tag per page with the most important keywords. Use other head tags (<h2>, <h3>, etc) to provide variations and support the main heading.
<h1>Desks</h1>
<h2>Large Desks</h2>
<p>… information about large desks…</p>
<h2>Small Desks</h2>
<p>… information about small desks, etc etc…</p>

Page Text: Make sure the text of your web pages contain keywords and common phrases which people might search for. Be careful with the frequency of your keywords – you want to have them occur at least a few times if possible, but don’t repeat yourself so much that the copy becomes unnatural. The idea is to discretely spread keywords around without making it obvious.
<p>Buy office furniture at affordable prices from any of our retail stores.</p>

Note: Use all these methods in moderation. If you include a hundred keywords in the meta tag or saturate your page with heading tags they will lose their effectiveness and you may be penalized in other ways. Keep it simple and under control for maximum impact.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Copywriting

Search engine optimization (SEO) copywriting requires a different approach than traditional copywriting. It could be boring, to be honest, but if done properly it will bring you results. Here are some tips that you can apply to help your SEO efforts:

1. Give the primary keyword most importance. Always keep the primary keyword in mind while writing the article. While I don’t believe in taking away a writers freedom, it’d be good if you can write an article around the suggested keyword and maintain a keyword density of 6-8% in the whole article. Also make sure the primary keyword is evenly “sprinkled” around in the whole copy.

2. Use tags to highlight phrases containing the primary keyword. Make sure you use strong tags to highlight phrases that contain the primary content and the variations of it. Also make sure that you don’t go around highlighting every occurrence of the keyword but around 3-4% in the whole text and near the start/end of the entire copy is ideal.

3. Use variations of the primary keyword in the articles. Use variations of the primary keyword in a healthy ratio of 4% of the entire copy. For example if the keyword is “Flower” the variations would be “red flower” “blue flower” etc and not “flowers” or “flowering”.

4. Maintain a keyword density of 6-8% of the primary keyword and at least 3-4% of the variations

5. While linking to other sites, use a nofollow attribute. Use a nofollow attribute to external link sources wherever necessary, especially if there are lot of outgoing links in a particular article. I’d say if you run beyond 3 links in an article, it’s better to nofollow them while you can ignore nofollows for links less than three in number.

6. Use titles for links. Use the “title” attribute for all links external or internal. In the title attribute, give a short description of less than 6 words containing the primary keyword or its variations. Ex:- “More articles on Wedding” where “Wedding” is the primary keyword.

7. Try to interlink to your own pages/articles with the appropriate keyword that suits the content of the destination article. Do not use nofollow attributes while doing this.

8. Try to maintain a length of at least 250 words in the whole article. This is to make sure that Google gets the chance to scan your copy and collect the keywords from it. If it’s a short article, the engines might not consider it a valid doc.

9. When writing headings, try to make sure that the primary keyword is placed in the first three words. Ex:- “Wedding Troubles – Article 1,2 and 3” where Wedding Troubles is the keyword.

Marketing Your RSS Feed

Here is another useful – well at least I hope so – SEO tip from yours truly. If you go through the necessary steps and time to set up an RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) feed, it will only help you if people actually use it. In short, you need to give some thought to marketing your RSS feed.

An RSS feed is potentially a powerful marketing tool for any site. Imagine a scenario where other sites automatically publish your content. Think of how much bigger the audience will be for your content. If a lot of sites pick up your feed, the numbers could be staggering. The problem, of course, is how you get people to publish your feed on their site. Well, you need to get their attention. Yes, marketing your RSS feed should be another part of your overall marketing plan.

The first step in marketing your feed has to do with your site. Simply put, you need to let people know you have a feed and they can use it. It is important to understand that RSS feeds can be used by individuals as well as other sites. My Yahoo is a popular add on to all Yahoo email accounts. My Yahoo has a tool that allows users to add RSS feeds to their page. Bingo! If you are serious about kicking out an RSS feed, you need to put text on your site showing people how to add your feed to their systems.

Once you have covered your site, you need to consider how you will get notice of your feed out to the web at large. There are two excellent ways that come to mind. The first is optimizing your feed page to obtain search engine rankings. You want to optimize for your subject area in combination with words like news, updates, tips or whatever is appropriate for your situation. Once you have rankings on Google, Yahoo and MSN, people will naturally start picking up your feed because they are searching for it.

The second method for promoting your feed is through articles. Simply put, you should publish articles in the big article directories anyway to promote your site. In your author byline, however, you will make a small change. Instead of blabbering on about your site, you can include text indicating the reader can get a feed for more articles from your site if they like what they have read so far. This is a slower approach, but one that pays off over time.

Starting an RSS feed makes sense for just about any site on the web. While this is true, you need to keep in mind that you will also have to market your RSS feed for it to reach its true potential.

If you have additional questions or would like more online marketing tips, please contact me and I will be more than happy to help. I can be reached at 208.598.0084 or matt.shifley@yahoo.com.

Ten Copywriting Tips

Here are some great copywriting tips from one of the leaders in the industry. I hope you find them helpful.

  1. Review your copy. Do it over and over. Six or seven times or more.
  2. Do not use long Latin words like “regulations, indicate, publications” – use short Anglo-Saxon words like “rules, show, books”. These words have more punch.
  3. Avoid being clever and cryptic. Some ads take me weeks to work out what they mean. We are all too busy to be bothering with the clever stuff. If it can be understood by a half-wit with a two second attention span you probably have a winner.
  4. Do not be handicapped by thinking that everything has to be “grammatically correct”. When you are copywriting all that stuff goes out the window. Say it in the simplest way possible.
  5. Use short sentences. And only contain one idea in every paragraph. Do not spend ages constructing enormously complex sentences with millions of clauses and sub-clauses. Also, be specific, state real figures, avoid things like “up to 5%” or “over 1,000”. Avoid percentages and state real sums of money instead
  6. State the facts and focus on the benefits the customer will get when he buys the product. Do not waffle. Every word needs to be earning its place in your copy. Do not be worried by length of copy. Testing shows long copy sells more than short and long headlines sell more than short. Your copy should be as long or as short as it needs to be to sell the product.
  7. Speak the reader’s language. Do what a salesman would do. Think about how you would sell the product to someone. The best copy often has a kind of speech type “you-and-me-talking” quality about it.
  8. Visualize a person and write to them. Better still, write as if you are writing to someone you already know who fits the target audience: Your Mum, a friend, whoever.
  9. Use simple words that everyone understands then everyone will understand. Good copy is often criticised for having a childlike quality. This is deliberate; if a simple person can understand it, everyone can understand it.
  10. And finally: read books on the subject. Study the work of the great men of advertising. Write, write and re-write. The way to get effective advertising is to test everything. Do not use full stops in headlines. And remember: good copy is like a river; you should be able to jump in at any point and be carried along by the flow.