I’ve always been a big fan of quick page load times on sites from overall User Experience standpoint. But, ever since Google announced that they were using site speed in web search ranking I have become a big time stickler about this. After watching this for the last couple months, I’ve realized that my peskiness about the whole thing warranted just cause.Read More›
While at SXSW, Chris Winfield and I had our presentation on “Social media marketing for your business.” My biggest focus for the presentation was to help people realize the power of creating a plan, setting goals, and executing them. Overall, creating a marketing plan or strategy should not just involve trying to get some traffic or a few links. There needs to be an end result that helps the business bottom line, like getting new users.Read More›
Having spent a lot of my career doing a lot more than just SEO, I’ve had to wear many different hats. One of my favorite hats to wear is actually the Business Development one. I’m total people person and I love the sales process. The feeling of closing a deal to me is almost as good as sex. (Sorry, I had to set the bar high).
So, rather than actually sitting here and writing another useless “SEO Tips” type post, I wanted to give to put together something a little more business focused, so I came up with the idea that I would write about how I find and close biz dev opportunities.Read More›
I’ve had a few colleagues and friends lately ask me about Google’s real time search results since they launched real time search about two months ago. To some of you, this might be an obvious post, as Rae from Outspoken Media pointed out with her post about Google enabling real time spam.
I was then alerted by a friend that apparently Google is filtering people based on relevance and followers and all that jazz. He pointed to an article talking about how Google ranks tweets. Which the author talks about hashtags, followers, relevance and all that jazz to get you to think that the real time results are actually influenced by these attributes in search.
Being the investigative person that I am, I decided that I needed to see this for myself and figured that American Idol would be something that is somewhat trending, it would be the right opportunity to test out the real time spam that Google enabled.
First, I did a search for American Idol and noticed some real time results. So, it was time for me to tweet away and see if I could get some results in there. Now, remember, I NEVER talk about Idol, I could care less about American Idol, and honestly, I know I’m entirely irrelevant to idol, but then I saw this rank:
So that was just a test…now some of you might say, well, that was because it was just talking about American Idol and only relevant to American Idol. Fine, I thought through that and figured it might be interesting to see what would happen if I posted a link to the Kindle in Amazon to see if you could spam affiliate offers via the real time results:
Done deal! Granted, I didn’t get any clicks from Google to that link, but it just goes to show that you can pretty much game the real time results fairly easily at this point. The more people look at those results and the more intertwined they become to the search experience, the more you could figure out ways to game it.
I could essentially create bots via twitter or hire overseas labor extremely cheap to go out there and just tweet all day with a bunch of affiliate links to trending topics and such with real time and maybe get some VERY minimal to no results. Then again, it makes me wonder if/when people will start clicking on those results that are relevant to the original searcher intent of their query? At that point, you’ve opened a flood gate of people that could do what I just mentioned above.
Just something to think about. Again, like I said, for some of us, this is pretty obvious stuff, but, thought it would just be interesting to run the analysis and post about it.
What are your thoughts about real time search results? Do you think they will be gamed and spammed more and more?
I’ve been on this huge kick of creating visibility for products online lately. All I can think about is how to gain visibility for an online brand. Along with that, I’ve been really interested in two other things: Local and Location Aware applications. I’ve had my eye on Yelp for a bit, but even more so lately as the mobile market is growing. But, even more than Yelp, I’m a huge fan of foursquare since I jumped on the bandwagon back at SXSW. Something I really like is that, like any smart business, they are adapting the product to the market and use. They’ve created a product that included Social Game features and recently launched foursquare everywhere. Now, don’t get me wrong, Yelp adding checkins could totally change the face of the game and knock foursquare out of the Mayor spot, so-to-speak (I had to do it!).
So, that all said, it’s important to note, that I wanted to take a look at foursquare from a perspective outside what everyone else is talking about with how cool the app is, but rather, talk about how it is great for marketing/monetization opportunities going forward.
1. Building Social Capital with Mayorship & Badges
As I mentioned opening this up, they added social gaming to the local mix and understand that social capital is an asset that is ever so important in todays online world. With the creation of Mayors and Badges, it creates an opportunity for individuals obtain a larger amount of social capital within their local cities/neighborhoods.
As a local business owner, wouldn’t you want to know who the people are that frequent your business and have an online presence. I know I would if I was a local business owner, I’d want to know who the people are that have the ability to talk up my business.
We’ve all heard Tara Hunt talk about The Whuffie Factor, and, it’s all very true, social capital is very important now and will continue to be moving forward. I think as local businesses understand that, they will start figuring out ways to market via channels like foursquare. Furthermore, smart local marketers will start figuring out ways to leverage foursquare when working with clients. Also, think about all the chain restaurants that have the ability to build this as a nationwide local targeted marketing initiative as more and more users adopt this.
2. Local Advertising with a real revenue model
I’m a marketer and I look for revenue models as a sign of a product taking that next step into the major leagues. I see foursquare having a major opportunity to create sponsored events, sponsored or featured locations, etc.
Now, before you say, “Why would they do that! Businesses paying to be listed is not authentic!” Think about it, when banners on the web came out, people threw up their arms, when Google Adwords came out, people yelled from rooftops, and when ad.ly (one of my fav. startups, btw) came out, people were outraged via Twitter…do you see a pattern??
It is inevitable for sponsored and premium/featured listings to be highlighted within the content that we see on a daily basis. Saying that it is evil and not right, is thinking without logic. Businesses can not live on without REAL revenue models. Here is how I could see something like this playout:
3. The ego is more important than you think
I’ll bring up Mayors and Badges for the second time in this post because it is worth the mention again. I think something we have failed to see in most Social Media products is the ability to touch the human Id and ego boosting. While we choose to ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist, it is the base for all human activity. When we feel better about ourselves through any sort of ego-stroking, we tend to do that activity more: championships and trophies in sports, awards in entertainment, etc. Gaming companies do a great job of this, and you have to give credit to Zynga for recognizing this and on their platform with Mafia Wars and Farmville:
But, look at other Social Media platforms, Digg removed it’s top diggers list years ago because they didn’t want the users having more power than the product. Twitter has yet to introduce any sort of ego-boosting platform, (outside of the retweeting functionality), and Facebook really doesn’t have any way of producing this either at this moment. But, introduce foursquare in the mix and you’ve got a real tool for ever so important ego-stroking that we all choose to ignore. Becoming a mayor makes people feel self important, it provides a feeling of self worth. We shouldn’t think of it as a bad thing, it’s human nature for christ’s sake.
4. Capturing local search results:
Being that I’m someone that understands SEO and the search game, I’m always going to look at opportunities to drive traffic. Now, while Yelp does have this market pretty cornered, as they have tons of authority in the local/review market, within a short period, I’ve seen foursquare locations show up top 10 and even top 5 in many situations for local results:
5. Customer Service has never been more important!
Consumers are now subconsciously advocating companies or they are talking about their complete dissatisfaction for another company. Remember, more than 50% of people will make a purchase or purchasing decision based on the reviews of that brand. If I see someone checkin via foursquare is talking about how horrible a location is, I’m probably not going to want to check it out. At the same time, if people really enjoyed their experience, it will make me add it as a to-do item in Foursquare.
This basically is the flip-side to what I talked about when it came to local/in-stream advertising. Customer Service is ever so important, because, even if you are paying for prime placement and top dollar for sponsorships, you can’t fake the overall customer experience.
The truth is, without even knowing it, consumers are becoming what I’ve dubbed: “Subconscious Advocates.” Consumers are revolutionizing the way they tout the brands, restaurants and shops that they love via the tips they leave or the shouts they make when they check-in to a location. Because of this, businesses need to create
opportunities to “wow” these customers and influencers daily, otherwise, I believe they will start to feel it as the market starts to adopt these services more and more.
What do you of the location aware model and/or foursquare? Where do you think it will end up or how will it play out?
Keep the conversation going on twitter, follow me: @tonyadam!
I’ve spent the last week at my parents house in a little town in Los Angeles called LaCrescenta. It’s been the first time I haven’t been in an office for over 1 week in 10 years (side note: this is the first time I’ve been at my parents for this long for almost 5 years). It has been good to take some time and reflect on things and do a little bit of looking at things from that 10 thousand foot view. Which has led me to thinking about why it is ever so important to take time, take a step back, and think more strategically.
Looking at things strategically
As it turns out, having your head down and not taking the time to create a strategic approach to things isn’t always the best…well…STRATEGY. I’ve learned a lot about how to think more holistically and strategically over the past 4-5 years. This has created opportunities for me to truly be strategic, innovate, and lead teams, while also delivering value tactically on a daily basis.
As we all know, much of marketing and creating great products is really understanding an industry, verticals within it, the overall market, and/or a customer and their needs. The creation of the new types of media, such as social media sites like Twitter, has truly shined light on how important a customer is. You can find many posts around the web talking about engaging customers, honesty, and being transparent (funny thing is, thats all some social media people talk about, but I digress). The point is, the days of shouting at people via television ads isn’t really “moving the needle” the way it use to, and, as consumers really look to at different forms of consuming media, we have to understand the people we are looking to reach even more.
Being strategic provides opportunities to see what you might have missed.
We are all in “go mode” and trying to make things happen daily, trying to “provide value.” There are so many days that I sit there and engage in social media, work on editorial calendars, and put together plans, etc. for the companies I am working for that I don’t have the time to think strategically. This becomes a problem because a lot of things that are glaring situations or opportunities tend to pass you by.
But, the question is, when you are spinning your wheels just trying to get stuff done, are you really providing value to your organization? Your Client? and even more so, the consumer?
In my opinion, you are not. That is why being more strategic provides opportunities and more value in the long run. Being strategic means stopping what you are doing, analyzing a consumer, and finding out what they are actually looking for. Analyzing a journalist and finding out what they would write about, what they would link to, who they would reach out to. Even better, looking at data to understand patterns, user behavior, etc. that will truthfully provide value to a consumer. Which means you, as a strategic thinker is providing more value by obtaining more customers or actively engaging, re-engaging, and retaining more customers.
Set aside time to think strategically
Taking the time out daily or weekly, gives you an opportunity to think more holistically as a marketer. Take time to think about what people want. Marketing is not about pushing a message or advertising your product. Marketing is truly understand what is important in any given marketplace. Marketing is the process of creating value in an industry that will ultimately lead to obtaining customers and retaining customers.
An example of this can be a product you offer or a template that you develop for your website. Some time ago, I was putting together specifications for pages that should be built on a site. I threw them together from an SEO perspective. Title Tags, alt tags, URLs, etc…you name the technical requirement, and I had it spec’d out. The problem I didn’t think through was, am I really creating value? Am I really understanding what people want out of those pages? Would customers be happy? Would the Media? Would Social Media Users? Overall, that was the problem I was not thinking through and that is an order of magnitude greater than any title tag or url in the long run.
I hit this realization that I should not just try to get stuff done and should actually take some time to think through a problem. Now that I have, I have made sure that I dedicate time to actually blocking out periods of time to think more strategically on a weekly basis. During that time, I switch my surroundings and either go to a coffee shop, lock myself in a conference room at the office, or something of that sort.
Consultants can help with Strategy
There are three ways that bringing in consultants can help with the problem of thinking strategically as an organization:
Consultants can provide a fresh set of eyes that are not tightly integrated with your business, along with being able to be objective about features, content, etc. because they are not vested in the design, for example Discover More Here. Hiring a strategic consultant also means they will not be inundated with trying to deliver on daily traffic goals, daily product meetings, etc. They will be able to work externally, analyze a business, an industry, and the consumer and make recommendations that you can implement.
Hire consultants that are tacticians to help alleviate your daily support needs. Whether you are managing communities, doing something tied to SEO, managing PPC campaigns, etc. All that matters is that you are bringing someone in to alleviate the fact that you need free time to think more strategically. Many times, a business has learned so much about their industry that they have all the research necessary to think strategically and just needs to time and ability to step away from day to day processes to actually do just that, think strategically.
Being a consultant now at days is no longer about specialization and more about strategy. Todd Malicoat just recently wrote about being a Business Management Consultant and I think its so important to think that way now. Just being a PPC consultant, SEO or Social Media Marketer isn’t going to cut it going forward. It is the exact reason that I am happy that I have prided myself in becoming a generalist in technology and the Internet. Understanding all facets of project management, product development, ideation, marketing, etc. is so important. But, be careful, because, just like the ever so popular “Social Media Experts” that can talk about being one, but, don’t really understand it. The same goes here, being a business consultant and advising businesses isn’t just knowing a few things, it’s being a generalist that understands all aspects deeply enough to truly provide holistic feedback to an organization about their market, their product, etc.
Overall Web Strategy is crucial
Overall, it is important to start thinking more strategically as businesses start to evolve online. Being strategic, being a leader, and understanding a market is more important now than it ever was. Being a true marketer involves understanding an industry and providing value. We should all be striving to provide more value to organizations going forward.
Have you spend enough time on web strategy? Are you hoping to spend more time on it? I want to hear what people are thinking about thinking strategically overall!
About two months ago, I reached out to Chris Winfield, Brent Csutoras, and Todd Malicoat about putting together a Social Media Marketing for your Business Panel at SXSW Interactive. We all thought it would be a great idea and I put it together.
All of us particpates in some sort of Social Media Marketing, Optimization, and Promotion on a daily basis with clients and/or the companies we work for. We wanted to share the knowledge that we have all gained on how to successfully drive traffic to sites, how to measure that traffic, and how Social Media Marketing for your Business really works.
We understand SXSW Interactive is a WAYS away at this point, but, the Panel Picker voting has been in full throttle and people have been talking about it like crazy on twitter. It’s no surprise that everyone is trying to pimp their panels and get people to vote.
Which is the reason for this post! A major part of the SXSW Panel Picker process is votes and feedback from the community on the panel ideas submitted. We have pitched a panel idea on “Social Media Marketing for YOUR Business” and WE NEED YOUR VOTE!
Click on the SXSW 2010 Panel Picker thumbs up image here, click the thumbs up and leave us a comment with what you want to see, why you are excited about the Panel, and/or any feedback you have!
We are all excited about the opportunity and looking forward to rocking it for you guys in Austin!
As an individual that works very hard at maintaining relationships and attempts to help anyone at anytime he possibly can, I see some pretty interesting mistakes that people make, DAILY! Sometimes, I have to admit, I’ve made the mistake of burning a bridge or two at past companies, just by the simple fact of not understanding how important it was not to hurt a relationship. But, I now know that there are some things that you should NEVER do…and I mean NEVER.
The Obvious One: There is never a reason to “out a website”:
There was a lot of chatter about this back at the end of April about how no one should ever out a website. I think this point has been beaten down your throats quite often. I commented on this a while back in that there really is no reason from a business or financial perspective to actually do this.
Todd Malicoat wrote an excellent post about what is your SEO Code? So, what is your SEO Code? Or, even better, what is your business code of ethics? Think about the following before outing another website:
• What could you gain by outing another website or company?
• How are you benefiting your businesses or growing as an individual by doing so?
• Who are you HURTING financially in doing so? Think about it, the site you’re about to out and that could quite possibly be banned, could very well be a friend of yours. Do you want to be the reason that your friend or possibly even their kids don’t have food on the table?
• Would you want someone to out your website publicly and possibly cost you a loss of income or some sort of financial burden.
Think through this before actually outing a company or reporting another site. When in doubt, also, you might want to ask a friend privately, they might be able to provide some insight or talk it through with you. Again, at the end of the day, you don’t want to out a site that could cost someone his or her livelihood.
Battling for Profits: Never publicly talk about companies paying too much for a service:
We are all in business in some way or another at the end of the day and we are all out to make smart business decisions. I’ll admit that I’ve scored some pretty sweet contracts back in the day where I’d made a decent amount of money and didn’t really do much. Other industry professionals can vouch for this as well. In fact, recently at Revenue Bootcamp, Neil Patel and I have talked about this before and es“If I charge you 20k to increase your traffic and I do it, and its worth it to you, it shouldn’t matter how long I spend, if I did it in 1 hour, then better for me!”
What you might call “overcharging,” I call a “smart business move.”
If you find out that someone is charging a client a lot of money for a service, you should never use a medium like Twitter to talk about how much people should or shouldn’t charge for a service. If you are competing that market, go out there and try to win the business.
There are too many factors that go into the rates of a consulting agreement that might not be obvious right up front. Things like the overhead of an agency, resources, services provided, etc. And, at the end of the day someone might have made a smart business deal and/or they have a client that is now going to question his or her consultant and create headache for no reason at all.
Don’t get all high and mighty and publicly talk about rates and charges over the Social Web, again, you never know if you have a friend or even business partner that you just cost a lot of money.
Secrets are Secrets: Secrets are meant to be private, keep them that way:
A lot of the sharing of secrets that have been heard at conferences and/or things shared in private aren’t being made as public anymore. But, that said, with the Social Web being ever so increasing, talking about things you hear at conferences becomes compelling.
Don’t do it!
Lots of us have websites, profiles on the Social Web, and/or businesses that we run that are meant to stay private. Revealing any of this through any social medium could cost someone a loss of income or, for some of us, our entire livelihood.
Also, if you’ve heard someone say something in passing or you could take out of context or you are attending a conference session where an individual asks you not to share or tweet about the information he or she is currently talking about, don’t share it. Remember the post by Brent Csutoras, “we know it’s social, but stfu already“…that will always be true.
Remember, if its questionable, it probably shouldn’t be done, and, at the very least, ask someone what they think before doing it, they will probably agree that you shouldn’t share it.
Burning a Bridge Can Will cost you in the long run!
People make this mistake too many times and I’ve even made it a few times years back. Whether its a co-worker that leaves on an angry note, someone you just dated that ended badly, or someone that is in your industry that you just happen to feel you just don’t “need” anymore.
The point: Everyone and anyone is valuable at some point. That bridge you just burned could be your future boss, future consultant, future investor, and/or someone that could bring your consultancy/agency new business. Remember, that you shouldn’t treat people as contacts, create relationships instead.
Granted, yes, there are going to be people that you just don’t get along with in business and personalities that don’t work together. But, rather than burning the bridge, separate yourself from the situation and at the end of the day, don’t be rude and or don’t personally insult people. That is where you REALLY start burning bridges and losing relationships and even contacts.
Over the last few months I’ve seen an interesting cross section of startups to large brands and marketers to developers that are all running businesses. There has been one thing that ties all of these people together, and that is gaining traction and visibility to your website or business online.
If you are a large brand, you already have that visibility, but it is hard to continue to be nimble and build quickly, therefore, you are typically left behind. While startups run into a different kind of problem, they are able to create cool cutting edge products, but, does anyone see these products? Many times, they are not visible and have no traction. I’ve talked to a number of developers, product guys, and “startup dudes” that all run into that problem. The reason being:
People don’t realize that just building a great product is not going to bring you buzz, traffic, or growth, it doesn’t work without visibility.
So, what do you do to solve this problem? There are a few things that you can do if you are a startup or your just a humble guy trying to make a living off a website that you own.
SEO seemed like such a 4 letter word a few years ago. And, lately I’ve had interesting conversations around getting traffic in general, where I’ve been the SEO Evangelist, talking about how targeted and the high ROI of Search Traffic. It’s been exciting talking people and businesses that understand or are beginning to understand the importance for Search Visibility.
Creating Search Visibility is created by building Search Friendly websites that are authoritative to a given Search Engine.
How do I know what people are looking for?
A lot of people jump into SEO and try to build sites and throw popular phrases into h1’s, titles, etc. It’s important to understand the industry you are in and do the research that is required to know what it is people are searching for, this is called keyword research. For example, the knowing that people search for “cars” rather than “automobile.” (yes, I know that’s a crude example, but, you get the point!). SEOBook has a Free Keyword Research Tool to do this for you.
What is a Search Friendly Website?
A search friendly website is a website that is built so that a Search Engine will index and crawl their content, while adding importance, relevance, and authority to that sites content. Many times organizations will make mistakes by building a flash site or an Ajax site that is entirely unable to be indexed or crawled by a “search engine spider.” There are tips and tricks on on how to build Ajax SEO Friendly websites out there.
Creating authority is the key to visibility!
At the end of the day, no matter how much you’ve researched the keywords and how great you’ve built out your site so it is search friendly, you need external links. Without links to your site from external resources, you will not rank nor get search traffic, bottom line. Getting links isn’t an easy job either, it is the crux of the SEO problem. (i.e. It’s why we get paid the big bucks!)
Building links is an interesting mix of many different cross-functional skills. Whether it is the sales pitch to websites asking for links, the biz dev angle of partnering with other sites or buying links (while, I would NEVER condone that, wink wink!), or the art of building buzz around your content, product, or service through the Social Web.
Social Media Visibility
Ah, Social Media, the buzzword amongst all buzzwords across the web now at days, it’s amazing how much it is talked about. Amazingly enough, Social Media has become a part of the general web presence and we are moving away from it being a piece of the business, so to speak, but rather, the a fully conversational and connected Social Web.
Okay okay, I’ll get to the point: Getting visibility via the Social Web is done by being conversational, engaging, and invoking emotions.
Social Media news sites like Digg
Creating content that creates a conversation around a particular topic, whether it is hilarious, sad, resourceful, etc. Creating content like this is all about invoking the emotions. You want to create content that a user is going to want to Digg. You want to have a page that is going to make someone stop while “stumbling” through your site. But, it doesn’t stop there is still another really important factor of gaining visibility:
If influencers within the Social Media space do not know about your content, then guess what, it is not going to be made visible. People and the masses follow the influencers (and I’m not just talking about twitter) by watching them and seeing what they are talking about, they create the “water cooler conversations.” It is similar to Search in that you need to build a site that the search engines can not only see, but is authoritative.
Create conversations and engagement about your brand
Remember those conversations that I talked about, well, pay attention, because the conversations are happening all across the Social Web. But, you can do things to create those conversations and create engagement that is tied to your brand or your site.
Be insightful, engaging, and provocative when creating a conversation
Don’t be a feed, creating a twitter account and throwing your RSS feed is not participating in the Social Web, it’s a feed and nothing else. You want to create a conversation, think of ways that you can create conversations about your brand. If you are a sports site, talk about upcoming events, like the NBA Draft. If you are a political opinions site, then you might want to ask questions on the Social Web about legislation and elections.
When you create conversations and people are engaging with you and your brand, then you are essentially creating visibility.
The Visibility of Trends
Since moving more into the Publishing and Media side of the business from E-Commerce and Product Centric websites, I’ve learned a ton around insights around trends. Understanding trends gives you insight into the topics that are “buzzing” around a certain category or vertical. You can use a tool like Google Insights to give you that knowledge.
So, you’re sitting there going, “great, who cares what is buzzing!?”…fine
, you probably aren’t. That said, this is extremely important to understand, because, creating content around these trends can create the Search and Social Media Visibility needed to grow your business.
Don’t be good, be GREAT!
Remember, your product or content will not survive on it’s sheer awesomeness (even though I’m sure it is!). Make sure that you are considering the visibility of your product and content: ONLY THEN, can your Product and Content be truly considered GREAT!
The most trending topic on twitter right now as I am writing this post is #fixreplies. It is shocking to me that after weeks of proclaiming that twitter is all about social discovery, we see the biggest Bonehead Decision that twitter could have made. There are posts from around the industry talking about Twitter putting a Muzzle on your friends.
Originally, by default, twitter would not show you the @replies sent to other users until you went in and made the change under Settings -> Notices. Apparently, this caused confusion to many people, despite the help article explaining replies settings to users.
Where we use to see this:
We now see this!
<img class="alignnone" title="new replies" src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2186/3527229565_f240b8efd5 webpage.jpg” alt=”” width=”500″ height=”187″ />
What I am wondering is how they came to this decision?! Isn’t the point of Social Discovery to discover people that share the same friends or interests that you do. Turning this feature off only negates that experience.
Personally, I would like to know how many users have made the change in their settings to receive all @ replies. Not to mention, but, I thought that’s what Direct Messages were for, to keep the conversation personal. Twitter and Social Media is about conversations and by putting this “muzzle” on as @marshallk mentioned, we are losing out on that conversation and furthermore, we are witnessing Twitter taking the Social out of Social Discovery.
Update: Since posting their note about the “small settings update,” Twitter has posted this in response to all the feedback that they apparently didn’t realize how important the social discovery aspects were to the community.
Update #2: Since this mornings chaos and feedback note Biz mentions that they have learned a lot and are working on changes to the replies functionality.