Posts Tagged ‘SEO’

We all know social media is an important tool for brand awareness and customer acquisition — but how exactly are you supposed to convert random Twitter and Facebook users into real-life customers? Well, that depends.

Different brands have different challenges when it comes to customer acquisition: “If you’re our customer, you’ve signed up for a year-long service, unlike the Starbucks of the world, where you can be a customer by coming in for a cup of coffee one day,” says Lisa D’Aromando, social media community manager at Equinox. Whether you’re a clothing shop, a restaurant or a subscription service, you must tailor your strategy so that it makes sense for your brand. That said, there are a few universal ways to help your company attract new faces on the social web.

“I’m a big believer in creating and sharing meaningful content,” says Danni Snyder, co-founder and creative director at jewelry brand Dannijo. “Over time, that is every brand’s best bet for creating and sustaining a following that will grow their business.”

But what does it all entail? Mashable spoke with some super-social brands about how they find new customersand lock in their existing ones they have as repeat buyers.

1. Get Your Search On

There are 340 million tweets sent per day — odds are that a few of them are referencing your brand, though you may not realize it. “Just because chatter on social media channels isn’t mentioning your brand by handle or hashtag doesn’t mean it isn’t happening,” says McKee Floyd, director of brand development at Sweetgreen.

The key is to be proactive. For the company’s upcoming Sweetlife Festival, Floyd set up Twitter searches for “sweetlife” and “sweetlife festival” on TweetDeck, which pulls the tweets even if users didn’t include the hashtag. “As groups of friends have conversations back and forth on Twitter about whether or not they should buy tickets, we monitor and chime in with helpful info, answering logistical questions about the festival and hopefully swaying them towards choosing to attend.”

Geoff Alexander, managing partner at Chicago’s Wow Bao, says his team also uses TweetDeck to search for certain keywords — such as “wow bao,” “baomouth” and “hot Asian buns” — and they reply to any and all posts they find. Wow Bao initially got into social media because there wasn’t a budget for advertising, so the brand opted to spread the word by giving away buns. “@BaoMouth searches the Internet for ways to reward people — giving away bao, full meals or mobile money [for the food truck],” says Alexander.

But the search tactic works for more than just food concepts. Danni Snyder says she monitor mentions of Dannijo religiously and also searches Twitter for “jewelry.” Consuming social media buzz about jewelry — and not just Dannijo’s wares — helps the brand be “aware of what people are talking about, what they like and don’t like, etc.” says Snyder, which can help Dannijo cultivate a new audience with their next collection.

One tip for finding new customers is to see who’s engaging with your competitors — if someone just started following or tweeted at or checked in at another bakery in the neighborhood, you could tweet at the person to come check out your cupcakes. They customer will appreciate the shout-out and the fact that you handpicked them to be your customer. Get clever with searches that are relevant to your business and offerings to help you target potential customers — then reel them in by being charming and human, not salesy.

2. Use Images to Engage

A picture is worth a thousand words — photos drive twice as much engagement as text posts do on Facebook. So if you’re looking to attract some new fans, start snapping pics.

Snyder says Instagram is her favorite medium for connecting with fans. “You can subliminally market without annoying your customers because each post is capable of accomplishing a number of things,” she says. “In one post, we can showcase a new design available at Dannijo.com, thus driving traffic to our ecommerce site; show how we’d style the jewelry; mention a tastemaker friend like Questlove or ManRepeller and promote them while they’re wearing Dannijo; inspire discussion and engagement, gaining valuable customer feedback; and provide followers some visual inspiration and insight into your creative process.”

But the pics need not be product-focused. Dannijo posts photos of food and musicians that embody the Dannijo vibe, and its 9,745 followers like and comment on every one of them. Similarly, Rent the Runway posts pictures of various style trends. “On Facebook, we try to use as much imagery as possible — not just promotional imagery of our dresses, but images that relate to pop-culture,” says Jenny Fleiss, president and co-founder of Rent the Runway. For example, in anticipation of the upcoming Great Gatsby movie, the RTR blog posted about Gatsby-inspired fashion trends.

3. Host a Competition

Nothing gets customers going like some swag, so contests are a great way to boost your followers and engagement. But be strategic about what you’re offering, or else you could attract the wrong followers.

ModCloth hosts monthly photo contests that garner hundreds of entries and thousands of votes. “Our most recent contest, Thrifted Treasures, asked our fans to share their favorite vintage finds, and our community could vote up their favorites,” explains Natasha Khan, ModCloth’s social media manager. “The social actions surrounding that event brought in thousands of new fans, which we otherwise would not have gained.”

Khan says contests and offers have been the most high impact customer generation events for ModCloth. But if you’re planning on hosting a contest, Khan has a few suggestions. First, build in actions that allow the fan to share to their social networks, as this will increase virality. Second, stay true to your brand. Third, tweak the contest to fit the platform on which you’re running it — “On Facebook that means sharing photography, on Twitter it means wordplay hashtags, and for Polyvore it means styling outfits,” says Khan.

“Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to Facebook fan growth. If your company product is clothing and your prize is free iPads, then you will gain followers that might not belong to your core demographic. Make sure the reward is something your customer will value, such as a gift card or grab bag of your products,” says Khan.

4. Spice Up The Platforms

With so many platforms to manage, be sure to have a distinct M.O. on each channel — and cross-pollinate sparingly. If a customer sees the same information and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, she need only follow you on one of these platforms. Also, be wary of overpromotion. Nothing is more of a turnoff than a constant sales messaging — people easily can unfollow, and they will. Interestingly, many of Wow Bao’s posts have nothing to do with bao — @BaoMouth tweets during award shows and keeps a lively conversation going on a number of topics, winning people over with its spunky personality.

Of course, a big reason why you use various social media channels is to promote your product, so there are some things to keep in mind for the messaging when you are pushing your goods.

“Prove the value of being a Facebook fan. If you can find the same content and offers on other channels, there is no incentive to also follow the brand on Facebook,” Khan says. “Exclusive Facebook-only offers and original content reinforces our investment in the channel.” The same goes for every other social platform.

For Equinox, Facebook is for broadcasting of events and initiatives, like Cycle For Survival, Twitter is more conversation and geared toward responding to questions about membership, fitness routines and healthy eating, and Foursquare is the platform on which to find offers for Equinox’s spa and shop, which are open to the public. “Every Monday in March, we posted a different Foursquare check-in special for The Shop at all of our locations,” says D’Aromando. “Since you don’t have to necessarily be a member to go to The Shop or The Spa, these specials are accessible to everyone,” and can lure in potential customers into becoming Equinox members.

The company’s Q blog is another digital project where you’ll find awe-inspiring videos and original lifestyle content — a great way to add value for potential customers. “Q was launched to extend our brand and increase this word-of-mouth among our target audience. It gives people — members and nonmembers — topics and material from our Equinox experts to share with others,” says D’Aromando. “In lieu of promos, we create a different sort of currency: highly produced, branded content on Q with exclusives for our social media communities.”

5. Make It Personal

No one like a mass message — consumers like to feel as if they’re the only ones being spoken to. You should know your customers and speak to them in personal ways to establish touchpoints that build relationships and create loyalty.

“I like to make it very personable — if someone tweets a question I make sure to answer immediately,” says Steven Rojas, social media director at GrandLife Hotels. “Often I go as far as Googling that person to make sure I know as much as I can about them before reaching out. I want to humanize the brand so people don’t feel like they are speaking to a computer but to an actual person who cares about what they are saying. My obsession for all things digital never sleeps, so I make sure everyone gets what they need, when they need it.”

Live chats are another effective way to offer intimate interaction and engagement with fans. “It’s about having a conversation with your community, so we often do live chats with our stylists on Facebook to answer any styling questions customers may have,” says Fleiss. “These posts tend to elicit the most ‘Likes’ and comments.”

While you’re browsing sites for comments to respond to, don’t ignore negative feedback — addressing the complaint is an opportunity to convert an unhappy customer into an impressed brand ambassador.

“We’re very appreciative when someone takes the time to let us know about a bad experience or an issue because then we can help fix it,” says Jenny Danzi, a Mountain Dew brand manager. “Reply to every complaint to turn those consumers into advocates — even if you can not offer an instant fix, people appreciate getting a human response,” she adds. And don’t forget that even the littlest gesture can make a big difference. “Sometimes for us it can be as simple as letting consumers know where they can find our products,” says Danzi.

Wow Bao takes it to the next level, proactively finding ways to create touchpoints with consumers. “We comment on any and all posts mentioning people’s birthdays and pop culture,” says Alexander. “We even schedule posts for people’s birthdays, when people post something like, ‘My birthday is in 12 days’” — a very personalized tactic that can go a long way

6. Let Your Customers Shine

Nothing makes a customer feel better than being acknowledged — or better yet, honored — by their favorite brand. Is there a way to offer kudos to your loyal fans? If so, make it happen.

Because women love to talk about what they’re wearing — and often wear RTR to social events such as weddings and cocktail parties — Rent the Runway strives to move these conversations online. “We have weekly style award contests on our blog and Facebook Page, and a section of our site called RTR Moments where women can share photos of themselves in RTR dresses,” says Fleiss.

For Mountain Dew, whose fan base is extremely young and active on social media, the “Diet Mountain Dew Supernova Spotter” is a great way to celebrate the return of the fan-chosen flavor in addition to highlighting the passion of the fans. “Dew drinkers can upload their photo of Diet Supernova, and on Friday we’ll open the entries up to public voting. Fifteen winners will each get a Diet Dew hoodie, and everyone who enters can easily share their Diet Supernova passion with friends,” Danzi says.

For Equinox, whose social media fan base is largely comprised of members, the goal isn’t as much to incentivize people to join (they already have), but to make them feel special for being members. “We have a Facebook app where members can refer friends directly, and if the friend joins, the member gets a referral bonus,” says D’Aromando. “We also just launched a program on Twitter where we’re rewarding our advocates by offering them private group fitness classes for them and their friends. This gives us a way to say ‘thanks’ to those who always post about us, and it gives them something to talk about with their friends — online and off.”

Brands, how does your company acquire new customers on social media? Consumers, what makes you want to become a customer? Let us know in the comments.

The social-powered Web browsing service StumbleUpon now claims to drive more than half of all social media referral traffic in the U.S., according to new data from StatCounter.

Is it true? Is it possible this lesser-known service, which helps users discover Web pages based on their interests and other people’s recommendations, has dethroned Facebook and Twitter?

All we really know from the data is that StumbleUpon drives most of the social media traffic to the 3 million websites that use StatCounter for their Web analytics.

StatCounter is a free service that some website owners install to track relatively simple data about the number of visits. Most news organizations and large websites use more detailed analytics services like Google Analytics or Omniture.

We don’t know who exactly the 3 million sites using StatCounter are (there’s no overview on the site), but we can assume they don’t include a representative sample of mainstream content publishers. And because StatCounter’s data is not weighted to represent news sites or the Internet as a whole, we can’t draw any conclusions.

In the specific case of a news website publishing timely or breaking stories, I expect Twitter and Facebook are the dominant referrers. But there is still a role for StumbleUpon in your social media strategy.

What does it mean?

StumbleUpon has grown to 15 million users and its site traffic is rising. Whether or not it beats Facebook, it can generate significant referrals, so news websites ought to pay attention to it.

While Twitter and Facebook excel at spreading the breaking or local news of the day, StumbleUpon is for the long tail. The type of content that succeeds on StumbleUpon meets a few criteria: the subject is useful, interesting or bizarre; addresses a niche topic; and has enduring value.

To understand why, you have to know how the service works.

  • Impressive. StumbleUpon is a serendipity engine that tries to recommend amusing and delightful pages based on the number of similar users (people who share a particular interest) who “like” a page over time. A page needs to be especially useful, interesting or bizarre to get someone to stop and like it, rather than stumbling on to the next thing.
  • Niche. StumbleUpon users begin by defining their personal interests, and now they can browse within one interest at a time. So the service is a home for things that appeal greatly to narrowly defined audiences rather than general-interest audiences.
  • Enduring. This is not a real-time news network like Twitter. Pages in StumbleUpon gain likes and momentum over time. So think of explainers, guides or revealing features as good candidates from a news site. A site homepage itself often gets traction for the general purpose of discovering the site, whereas you don’t see many Facebook likes or tweets of home pages.

To cement that a little, here are some of the Poynter.org pages that have received the most StumbleUpon referrals this year. The home page of Poynter.org comes in first, and near the top are several how-tos (useful and enduring) on:

How to optimize for StumbleUpon

Not that we need another cottage industry like SEO for StumbleUpon (SUO?), but you can take some basic steps to capitalize on the service.

First, add the StumbleUpon badge to your home page and article pages. Much like the Facebook and Twitter buttons that surely are there now, this badge enables a user to add or recommend your page to StumbleUpon. You also can add a widget to your site that shows your best-rated StumbleUpon content.

Second, be prepared to capitalize on the new visitors that stumble your way. The nature of StumbleUpon is to send browsers to sites that are new to them.

When they land on your site and realize they like it, you should have obvious widgets or links somewhere encouraging them to follow you on other networks or to sign up for email or RSS content delivery.

Linking to related posts on your site also can help extend a StumbleUpon visit through a few pages instead of directly bouncing to the next recommendation. That’s generally good practice for all Web visitors.

For something more specifically targeted to StumbleUpon, you could build a special widget that greets StumbleUpon visitors, introduces your site in a sentence or two, shows other popular SU pages on your site and invites the user to follow you or subscribe.

In the long run, it’s really not useful to measure StumbleUpon against Facebook or Twitter. They exist in two entirely different classes — one is a timeless, passive, serendipity engine, the other is timely, active, two broadcasting networks. Both are important in their own ways, and deserve their own strategies.

Why hasn’t your processor mentioned the Durbin Amendment?Learn how to lower your card acceptance cost: www.vms-washington.com and ask about the Durbin Amendment that was passed on October 2011 and how it will help you lower your rates. 

Having started all willy-nilly with Pinterest like Joe-Joe the idiot circus boy, I put absolutely no thought into what I was doing while kicking the tires. Now that PT is hotter than Canadian Maple syrup at a swingers party I can tell you what I did wrong.

First off, like most of us I really didn’t know what it was. Therefore I was just so eager to get my hands on it and stake a claim. A few things fell out of that experience. I started a bunch of lists that were important to me such as “Zombies, DesigNation, Survivalistic” and near naked women at “Shabam.” That being said my account is more about me personally and not about me ‘the brand.’

First question to ask – “Are you supporting a brand (corporate or personal) or is this a personal Pinterest account?”

The point here is all I’ve really done with my current account is give people a reason to think I’m a porn freak-based doomsday prepper that has a insatiable interest in art, automotive and design. While that’s not wrong per se, it’s not necessarily a glowing presentation of the personal creative/social thought leadership that I’m trying to establish.

Well If you’re not launching a brand, I say let’s lose the dogs of war and find the weirdest shit you can. Pin it and your noisy co-workers will create new things to gossip about around the water-cooler – ”then last night he pinned 17 different kind of Chinese throwing stars with anime characters on them! I know right!?!” The other edge to this sword however is that it’s more about the real “you” in the real world. If you don’t want people thinking you dress up and play Phyllis Diller on the weekends, probably best not to pin up a roadmap to that effect.

Next question to ask – “How do I categorize and thereby subjugate by brand?”

It’s like constructing an information architecture for a website and the “pins” end up the relational sub-pages within the “boards” you create. If you where to launch a clothing line or related outreach you might do something like:

  • Men’s Tops
  • Men’s Pants
  • Men’s Accessories
  • Men’s Shoes

…rinse and repeat with gender and age-group variance.

The caveat being that your pin either be yours OR have an affiliate or referral agreement with the product line to show it, as there’s been some “gray” areas regarding copyright and terms as is pertains to Pinterest. ADDITIONALLY! It’s also important to note that Pinterest may make money using your links in a referral capacity with companies such as Skim Links and others. They literally piggy back your link posted on the site to see if it goes to a retail site with an affiliate program. Upon finding referral coding it adds an affiliate code that ensures Pinterest will make some cash from sales that derive from that link. While not illegal (yet) it has brought them under some scrutiny.

Other things I didn’t do that you should:

  • USE #HASHTAGS AND REFERRING (truncated) LINKS IN YOUR PINS!
  • Include links back to your website and landing pages in your pins to drive traffic back to your website.
  • Create a “Follow Me On Pinterest” button for my site and social channels. You can also now add Pinterest to your Facebook account.
  • Use it like a focus group and crowdsource with it.
  • Create boards that you can use as competitive reference or trends within your industries.
  • Pinterest, as of yet, has not created a business “Page” model and therefore it might be said that there will be a redux in the process given that this is the case. I can’t imagine they won’t, as most LARGE social channel models have adopted this as standard practice.
  • Actively cross-fertilize your ‘pinning’ with your other social channels to boost traffic (important to note however it will NOT increase your SEO as has been prosthelytized until you turn your search engine “visability” on in your settings.)
  • If I get to do it again I think I will sort media too. I’d create specify boards for video vs. photos.
  • Also look for really “different” visuals. No one will click through on a default logo, but a beret wearing ferret riding a monkey that has a beret and AR15 rifle just might get you “repinned.”
  • Engage other pinners + make nice = more followers.

I should have looked at who’s doing it right before doing it at all:

As always, I’m making this stuff up as I grow up. Let me know your thoughts. All my best.

Michael Roberts

The latest social media site to join the ranks of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is Pinterest. Haven’t heard of it? You will. With over 10 million users, it is quickly rivaling Google+ and YouTube for traffic.

For those of you who don’t know about Pinterest, it is a visual site that allows you to post or PIN pictures to your wall, or a wall of your choosing. It might seem more like a B2C site and it has been historically a strong site for people selling jewelry, crafts, or major retailers highlighting new products.

But lately, it has gotten some traction as a traffic generator for business marketers too. Here are a couple of considerations for including Pinterest in your social media marketing efforts.

  1. Pinterest is a visual medium, so think about the visuals you already have in your content library. These could be cool pics, images from the covers of your white papers or ebooks, visuals from your blog posts with links back to those posts, even pictures from behind the scenes at your company. All these could capture traffic from Pinterest and drive visitors back to your site.
  2. Expand your definition of visuals and you can include data and charts too. Graphs, charts, even illustrations communicate complex thoughts in a single picture. This type of content is perfect for Pinterest.
  3. Take photos of happy customers and PIN them as well. This gives everyone a warm and fuzzy feeling about your firm and helps potential prospects feel more familiar with your company and therefore more comfortable reaching out to you.
  4. Use dedicated landing pages associated with your pins so that you can track traffic from Pinterest and measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
  5. Comment on other people’s pins. This will give you some additional exposure and when people see your comments they might eventually find your site, your blog and your content.
  6. Promote your Pinterest content through other, more popular, social sites. Create a Tweet or a Facebook post that links to your Pinterest page. Pinterest is hot, so these extended networks might be interested in seeing what someone else is doing on a newer social site.

Check out our Pinterest page to see how we are using it to drive leads. Feel free to follow us and see our latest Pins! If you need help creating an ROI for your social media programs, we can help

Thank you,

Michael Roberts

In January of 2012 Google introduced “Search Plus Your World,” an integration of Google’s Internet search engine and its Google+ social network. In one move, the entire social graph of over 90 million Google+ users was funneled into Google’s growing knowledge graph.¹ Industry experts are still trying to sort out the impact of Google’s new social search on SEO, specifically on page rankings. However, we know a few things for sure:

  • Controlling roughly 2/3 of all Internet searches, Google is by far the largest search engine (Yahoo and Bing are both a distant second with approx. 15% of the search market, respectively).
  • Google+ is growing rapidly, with over 90 Million users by the end of 2011. With every new Google+ user and “+1” share, Google is adding data to their social graph.

SHARE THE LOVE

Google’s +1 share button (think of Facebook’s “like” or Twitter’s “tweet” button) , is the mechanism for Google+ users to share content. According to Google’s webmaster, the +1 share button “helps people discover relevant content—a website, a Google search result, or an ad—from the people they already know and trust. Adding the +1 button to pages on your own site lets users recommend your content, knowing that their friends and contacts will see their recommendation when it’s most relevant—in the context of Google search results.”

It is clear that Google is trying to use social search to improve the relevance of user queries. But how exactly does this work?

The general supposition behind the +1 share button is that you will generally only include people in your Google+ user circles that you know and/or trust. As such, you will be more likely to click on a website, a Google search result, or an ad that has been +1’d by someone in your Google+ circles. This content would presumably enjoy a higher click-through-rate (CTR); there is also a greater potential the link will be shared, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or any social network.

SEO industry insiders have been trying to understand the relationship between social sharing and SEO for some time now. In early 2011, Rand Fishkin, CEO and co-founder of SEOmoz, tested the relationship between Twitter and Facebook shares and search results in Google. He found a positive correlation between the number of retweets and shares a link received and its search ranking. He found that the more the link was passed around on Twitter and Facebook, the higher the search rank of the page.³

Back to Google. Regarding the question of +1 button affecting a website’s performance on search rankings, its webmaster has this to say:

“Content recommended by friends and acquaintances is often more relevant than content from strangers. For example, a movie review from an expert is useful, but a movie review from a friend who shares your tastes can be even better. Because of this, +1′s from friends and contacts can be a useful signal to Google when determining the relevance of your page to a user’s query. This is just one of many signals Google may use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, and we’re constantly tweaking and improving our algorithm to improve overall search quality.”

IS IT RELEVENT?

It is clear that Google is trying to use its social search mechanism, the +1 button, to make search listings more relevant to individual users. This is a worthy objective, to be sure. Unfortunately, in practice Google’s social search is oftentimes producing less relevant search results.

When users are logged in to their Google account (which many people are all of the time, whether or not they notice), their +1 personalized results are shown before public rankings on any Google searches. This can have a negative effect on search relevance for users, and SEO page rankings for companies.  As 352 Media Group’s Erin Everhart pointed out in a recent blog on this topic, “When I search for “web design company,” one of our top keywords in Google, it’s pretty clear what I’m looking for: A web design company. Two out of three top results, traditionally coveted for clicks, are filled with social mentions. And social mentions that have nothing to do with a web design company.” Social mentions may build trust and authority to search results, but not necessarily relevance.

TIME TO BE SOCIAL

Nevertheless, the fact that Google is the only major social network with a search engine underscores the importance of having an active Google+ brand page. More than that, companies who want to take fully advantage of Google’s social search then have to get their Google+ brand page into as many influential people’s circles as possible- no easy feat. Furthermore, these people also have to be in many other circles if companies have hopes of reaching people outside of users’ immediate network.  Companies should also integrate top keywords into Google+ posts to increase their relevance in important searches. Google’s social search is therefore compelling brands to use their Google+ page much like their own website.²

THE TAKEAWAY

The full impact of Google’s social search on SEO is uncertain. While we try to sort out the effects of +1 on SEO, companies should not abandon traditional SEO practices wholesale. SEO methods such as link building and relevant keyword usage should still be practiced.

However, in this new era of social search, brands need to produce quality content that users find interesting and useful, and then actively promote it on social media, especially Google+. Companies need to pay close attention to how they are shaping their online message, not only on their website, but across all social media platforms. As social media and social search become more widespread phenomena, brands are going to have to spend more time and resources managing their growing online presence.

Questions remain, but one thing is certain: this brave new SEO 2.0 world presents numerous challenges, but also numerous opportunities, for business.

¹ Mashable, “Google Merges Search and Google+ into Social Media Juggernaut”

² Mashable, “How Google’s Social Search Shift will Impact Your Brand’s SEO”


Do you need a business Loan for your company?  Are you over extended and cannot get a loan through a Bank or Private Funding? If so, this is a great opportunity to expand your business, pay off debt, buy that vehicle you may need, buy more inventory or just use the money for what ever you may need it for.  What’s the catch?  None, just have a credit score above 600, no collateral needed, no signup fees and cash within 7 business days!   For more information click here.   We want to help your business grow and thrive during this “Down Economy”.

The sun is shining here in Seattle, and I’m beginning to see the faintest hint of tulips peeking up among the tangle of dried weeds and brush in the flower bed.

That can only mean one thing – it’s time for some spring cleaning.

The concept of sprucing up the house and clearing away the winter wardrobe is part and parcel of the whole spring cleaning process.

It’s about a fresh start – a new beginning.

I’ve decided to take my spring cleaning activities on-line this year, and I’m starting with (gasp!) my social media accounts.

I’ve taken to Twitter, followed by Facebook, and I’ve dropped hundreds of “friends” faster than Lindsay Lohan’s stint in rehab.

Wait…did you say dropped?

Yep, you bet I did. I realize that is counterintuitive to anything and everything we hear about social media. Everywhere you turn, folks are telling you how to “automate the friending process,” or “gain thousands of new followers.”

Call me crazy, but to that I simply say, “why?” You already know that I likened buying followers to stuffing your bra, so we won’t go there again.

If you’re like me, you probably have acquired your fair share of followers on the various social networks. I’d like to invite you to take a quick quiz.

Take a look at the bullet items below, and answer them honestly:

  • Of the Facebook friend requests that you’ve approved in the last six months, how many have you never seen or heard from again, aside from that initial contact?
  • Have you bothered to say hello, or introduced yourself on their wall?
  • How many of these new friends contact you only with a slew of requests to “like” their pages, or attend their webinars or launches?
  • How many have disappeared altogether?

These were just a few of the questions I asked myself when I began to take a critical look at my friends list, and pare them down. When I took an honest look at my answers, I knew I needed to make some changes.

I realize that my approach is not for everyone. In fact, I’m sure that there will be plenty of folks who disagree completely. I can only base my decisions on my own user experience.

Speaking of which, once I cleared away some of the cobwebs from my accounts and dusted them off, something interesting began to happen.

The quality of the engagement with my friends actually improved. I no longer needed to wade through pages of clutter, delete dozens of invites, or block countless game updates. They simply disappeared.

It left me time to actually enjoy the experience, develop new partnerships, and make deeper connections.

Of course, now that I’ve got that out of the way, I suppose I need to turn my attention to the spring cleaning tasks here at home.

Anyone got the number for Merry Maids?

Do you need a business Loan for your company?  Are you over extended and cannot get a loan through a Bank or Private Funding? If so, this is a great opportunity to expand your business, pay off debt, buy that vehicle you may need, buy more inventory or just use the money for what ever you may need it for.  What’s the catch?  None, just have a credit score above 600, no collateral needed, no signup fees and cash within 7 business days!   For more information click here.   We want to help your business grow and thrive during this “Down Economy”.

The Power of the Conversational Tweet

1. Transparency

You have a choice to have either open or closed tweets. My tweets are open and therefore public. This allows total transparency to messages. Anyone can jump in to join the conversation. It means I need to be responsible and authentic about what I share. I take this very seriously. I share my opinions (respectfully), quotes and status. The value of being transparent is that it attracts others who share your perspectives and allows an opportunity to open a door.

2. Listening

What is intriguing with this example is that we were both multi-tasking. Listening to the webcast and listening/reading our tweets. Listening is such an important part of communication. By listening and observing, you will find others who not only share your thinking, but you will also find your audience. This was certainly the case with this incidence- we both enjoyed this particular webcast and Lacey was part of my audience in December when I presented.

3. Engagement

Listening leads to an opportunity to engage in conversation. It helps to connect the dots.

4. Sharing

Engagement leads to opportunities to share each others experience and thereby driving a more meaningful conversation. As shared in my previous post  (S is for Social in Social in Social Media), sharing is key part of being social.

5. Relationship Building

Experiential exchange is a valuable act towards relationship building

6. Bridging Conversations

With the high utilization of Twitter, it is a great vehicle for connecting conversations from one platform to another- keeping conversations alive. It also highlights the importance of being consistent with your message and what you stand for across all your social platforms or sites. Now I finish where I began…..  this demonstrates the importance of not only being consistent with your information and brand but also the need to be transparent with your information and brand.

Now there are some conversations you really don’t have to tweet- in fact this one in particular is best done using traditional means! The act of taking with your vocal cords.

Share this post to continue the conversation! I hear Twitter works well.

Do you need a business Loan for your company?  Are you over extended and cannot get a loan through a Bank or Private Funding? If so, this is a great opportunity to expand your business, pay off debt, buy that vehicle you may need, buy more inventory or just use the money for what ever you may need it for.  What’s the catch?  None, just have a credit score above 600, no collateral needed, no signup fees and cash within 7 business days!   For more information click here.   We want to help your business grow and thrive during this “Down Economy”.

The old saying “If you build it, they will come” does NOT apply to your Web site; you’ve got to do more than simply publish it and one of the best things is to increase your position on the search engine results page. 


A beautifully designed website is great for a company’s image. However, the same website with no traffic is bad for business. Read these five easy non-technical SEO strategies to improve your websites visibility and traffic.

Step One – Google Local Business Listing
It is no secret; Google is king of the search engines. This is why the majority of your SEO efforts should be focused on having your website indexed by Google. It is not likely that your small local business will be able to compete with large national companies, their keywords and SEO efforts. However, it appears Google has realized this and has accommodated the small local business owner by creating free Google Local Business Listings. Many times if a Google user searches for a particular business niche and types in a city, the Google Local Listings will appear before all other listings.

Also, new technology (mainly smart phones) allows for Internet users’ geographical location to be automatically updated and provided to the search engine. With automatic location updates, Google Local Listings are very important for relevant searches (the best example could be the use of the service for a local restaurant or store). Because of this, it is important that all small businesses claim and optimize their Google Local Business Listing. Claiming and updating the information can be very beneficial from a business standpoint by attracting new customers and improving online presence.

Claiming a Google Local Listing is simple, free and quick. All you have to do is sign up for a Google account and claim your business. Once signed in you will be able to optimize your account by entering in your services/products, updating your location, providing contact information, uploading images/video, and adding other relevant business information. After your updates are complete you will be sent a PIN and need to enter it in order for the listing to be seen by Google users.

*Be sure to read the Google user agreement and follow all of the conditions in the agreement. Failure to do so could result in the removal of your Google Local Business Listing.

Step Two – Begin Blogging on your Website

Blogging is a very important aspect of SEO. Today’s search engines love new, fresh content and a blog is the best and easiest way to generate fresh content on your website. Many of the pages on your website are most likely static and change infrequently. This alone can keep your site from appearing in search engines. A blog serves several purposes for your business and website.

Foremost, a blog is a great way to interact with your current and future customers. It allows your company the opportunity to discuss important news and information quickly, easily, and affordably. A blog also allows your company to be seen as an authority in your industry – resulting in increased customer trust and respect. Blogging allows your business to showcase it’s strengths by putting the company’s expertise into words. A blog can also make your company larger through sharing and linking. Every new reader that shares your article could potentially assist you in gaining new customers!

Each blog entry should focus on one topic and should attack one keyword or phrase. The title should contain the keyword or phrase and encourage reading, filled with useful, relevant information. These are just a few great ways to use your business blog as an SEO tool for your website.

*A business blog should be considered even if you are not interested in SEO.

Step Three – Social Bookmarking for Traffic

Once you have completed steps one and two, it is time to start driving traffic to your website using free social bookmarking tools. There are a number of social bookmarking websites,DiggDeliciousStumbleUponReddit, and many more; each is a great way of introducing Internet users and search engines to your website and content. Every time a new blog entry is written, it should immediately be bookmarked on the social bookmarking website of your choice (or all of them). Bookmarking each new blog entry helps increase links to your website and provides an easy way for interested readers/customers to find your website and content. By bookmarking the pages and new content of your website, you are helping search engines quickly locate your website and index new information. If your bookmarks receive additional attention from other users, of the bookmarking website, search engines will notice this and give your site much more attention.

The effects of social bookmarking can last many months, but it is best practice to continually and consistently update your website content with new blog entries and same day bookmarking.

http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-bookmarking-websites is a great list of the 20 most popular social bookmarking websites.

Step Four – Utilize Twitter Effectively

If you are serious about SEO and creating a strong online presence for your business, you should sign up for Twitter. Twitter is a free service that allows users to follow other users and share information. Twitter is great for business! Twitter allows small businesses to easily and freely connect and communicate with new customers. In addition, it is a great business networking tool that can help small businesses interact and connect with other successful companies.

Do NOT use Twitter to continually spam other users with links to your website. Doing this will accomplish nothing, except for zero followers and zero benefits from the service. Instead, use Twitter as a way to meet new people and share relevant information in your industry. Once you have created a decent following (60 followers), you can begin tweeting links to new blog entries and information on your website. Search engines will follow the links and quickly index your website. Should your tweet be retweeted by another Twitter user, search engines will give even more attention to your Twitter account and website. These are just a few of the great uses Twitter provides small businesses.

Step 5 – Get Links through Directories

Inbound links are very important for SEO. Inbound links are other websites linking to your website. Inbound links can be difficult to obtain, but the easiest way is by submitting your website to directories. Not all directories are created equal; links from unrelated websites could have zero SEO influence and serve no purpose (for instance, it makes no sense for a plumbing company to submit their website to a massage therapist directory). Each industry tends to have established niche directories with relevant information and good link quality. So, do some research and locate directories that relate to your industry and submit your website. Many of these directories are free but some charge a listing fee.

Every company interested in SEO also needs to submit their website to the DMOZ Open Directory. The directory is free and very important for SEO.

*Before submitting your website to DMOZ, be sure to read the user agreement and do not violate any of the conditions.

That’s all!

There you have it – five easy non-technical SEO steps for small business owners. It is very important to note that these are just a few techniques to increase search engine visibility and increase website traffic. However, using these strategies on a poorly designed website with bad navigation, bad code, bad title tags, bad keywords, and other negative attributes will not provide the same results as would be seen on a website designed for SEO, which focuses on easy navigation and search engine accessibility.

Why hasn’t your processor mentioned the Durbin Amendment?Learn how to lower your card acceptance cost: www.vms-washington.com and ask about the Durbin Amendment that was passed on October 2011 and how it will help you lower your rates. 

I am asked over and over again how I manage to get over a hundred tweets per post on a regular basis.

The answer is actually quite simple and, in many ways, very obvious: it’s all about networking and collaboration.

Here are my 7 ways to get an impressive number of retweets nearly on autopilot.

1. Quantity Matters

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – quantity of your Twitter followers does matter.

Of course, I am not discounting quality either. As a matter of fact, we will talk about it a little later.

You have to admit though: with 32K+ followers, my posts are much more likely to get retweeted for that reason alone.

I can see that those of you who are following me @VMS_Washington are raising their eyebrows: 32K? What is he talking about?

The thing is that my followers are divided into 6 different Twitter accounts.

Not only this strategy helps me to get the maximum number of followers in the shortest period of time, but also every time I send a tweet about my blog post, I get 6 RTs instead of one.

Bottom line for me was that quality is important for networking, but without quantity your social media traffic generation will go down the drain.

2. Quality Is the Key

Now that we talked about quantity, here’s what I think of quality when it comes down to social interaction.

It’s IMPERATIVE.

You have to respond to your followers.

You have to initiate conversations with them.

You also have to initiate/follow/respond to tweets from more influential bloggers you’d like to get to know better or rather be known by them.

For every tweeted post from my own blog, I retweet several posts by other bloggers.

3. Collaborate

In other words, create a small group of bloggers in the same niche as yours and agree to add each other’s RSS feeds to your Twitter accounts, whether you use MarketMeSuite, Hootsuite, or Twitterfeed.com.

It goes without saying that you need to choose wisely here.

If your group gets too big, it’ll be too difficult to know who is holding their side of the bargain.

Smaller group is best, and by that I mean 15-20 bloggers – that’s my sweet spot.

So now, every time you publish a post, it’ll be automatically RTed by everyone in your group, as well as you’ll be automatically RTing their content, so it doesn’t appear like all you do is self-promote your own blog.

Quality issue: since you need to limit the number of bloggers in your group (in my opinion), you HAVE TO make sure that:

1. These bloggers have a substantial influence in the twittersphere.

Always try to make sure that the bloggers you recruit have at least the same or ideally many more Twitter followers and their content gets RTed by their followers (just take a look at the number of RTs they get on their own posts).

2. Also, make sure their content is of quality – since you’ll be automatically RTing it, it’d better be good or you’ll loose credibility with your own followers.

Where to find collaborators: everywhere.

Literally.

Look for blogs in the same niche that you like and contact their owners, explaining the benefits of collaboration.

Check out the people you follow on Twitter – the ones you’d really like to connect with – and send them a DM or, better yet, go to their blog and use the contact form to get in touch with them.

Look for existing collaboration groups you can join.

If you notice the same people RTing each other’s content, chances are they are in a group of sorts.

Be creative and don’t be afraid to create your own group, if you can’t find any to join.

Hint: Skype is a perfect place to create a group like that. That way you can always send everyone a message to share your post on different networks.

4. Send Email to Your List

Every time you send an email to your list letting them know you’ve got a new post up, make it easy for them to RT your post right from your email.

That way, even if they don’t have the time to read your post, they still might RT it, IF you make it simple.

I, like most bloggers I know, use Aweber for my email autoresponder and as of right now there’s no way to add social media sharing buttons to your emails.
However, I found an easy way to do it directly from an email through a free service called ClickToTweet.

It’s rather simple, really – you write a tweet the way you’d like to, include your shortened link and your @Mention and click “Generate Link!”

And voila – you now have a link you can add to your Aweber or whatever other autoresponder you are using and all your subscribers have to do is to click on it to retweet.

5. Show Favoritism

It’s funny because I use them a lot to bring my new Twitter followers back to my blog, yet I completely ignore my own inbox since it takes so long to get rid of a bunch of spam in search of a couple of legit messages.

Well, what happens is that not all messages are spam and some of my followers sometimes request that I take a look at their blog posts and RT them.

Once I do that, I, per Kristi’s suggestion, keep their ID in a text file and occasionally ask them to RT one of my posts that I really want to do well.

6. Use Triberr.com

Triberr.com is still a fairly new service created by Dino Dogan geared specifically towards forming groups with one common purpose – to RT each other’s stuff.

This has recently become my trump RT card. Because of the kind of tribe I am in, my content has quite a reach, and yours can too.

7. Use Plugins

Definitely, make it easy for your readers to RT your content.

Here’s what I use on my blog to encourage RTs:

1. Social media sharing buttons to the right of the page.

It’s not a plugin I use; these are hard-coded into my theme and are actually pretty easy to add.

The reason they are hard-coded is because of speed – I don’t need yet another plugin to slow down my blog.

If you don’t know how to do it, just choose one of the multitude of social sharing plugins.

2. I also use Twitter @Anywhere plugin at the end of each posts – it’s one of the easiest ways I found to get your readers to RT your content because all it takes is one click.

3. CommentLuv Premium: the recent paid version of the famous plugin has significantly increased my reader engagement by offering them a choice to RT my post, “like” it on Facebook, or click on +1 in order to get access to their last 10 posts.

Marketing Takeaway

Some of these methods require some initial investment of time and / or money, but once set up, they can run on autopilot, which is my favorite part about this whole Twitter promotion process.

Are there more ways to promote your post on Twitter and get more RTs? I am sure.

Are there any more automated ways to do it? I doubt it.

Final word of wisdom: the number of RTs your post gets is not always reflective of the amount of traffic you might get.

A high retweet number is nice to have for social proof and self-satisfaction, but you should never rely upon your RTs alone to bring you traffic.

Why hasn’t your processor mentioned the Durbin Amendment?Learn how to lower your card acceptance cost: www.vms-washington.com and ask about the Durbin Amendment that was passed on October 2011 and how it will help you lower your rates. 

You’re not unpopular, it’s just the nature of the news feed. Amongst all the business-related news at FMC, Facebook revealed that the average news feed story from a user profile reaches just 16 percent of their friends. Your actively shared links, photos, and status updates probably reach much higher than 16 percent of your friends, while more inane auto-generated posts about new friendships, wall posts, and articles you read may only be seen by your closest buddies.

Overall, this is actually a good thing, because the reduced visibility of irrelevant content makes room for what you want to see. But don’t be alarmed if all your friends don’t like that awesome concert photo, they may just be offline.

After his Q&A session about ads during the Facebook Marketing Conference, I followed up with Boland, asking if the 16 percent average distribution rate hampered communication. He defended Facebook’s news feed, saying “No, there are pieces of content you create that are interesting, and there’s some that are not.” And the 16 percent doesn’t just apply to users. Business Pages have the same average reach, which is why Facebook is launching its new “Reach Generator” to help marketers buy extra distribution of their Page posts on the ads sidebar, in the web and mobile news feed, and even on the logout page.

The stat from Director of Product Marketing Brian Boland was backed up by VP Chris Cox who said this holds true “in aggregate across all profiles, all types of content, all interactions, all ages, and all demographics.” By reducing the reach of low relevance posts, Facebook leaves news feed space for compelling wedding photos, new job announcements, funny videos, and urgent questions. Still, it means the ambient intimacy of the news feed can’t completely replace the reliability for direct communication.

Why hasn’t your processor mentioned the Durbin Amendment?Learn how to lower your card acceptance cost: www.vms-washington.com and ask about the Durbin Amendment that was passed on October 2011 and how it will help you lower your rates.