Friday, May 30, 2008

When is Social Marketing Wrong for You?

From Doug's list, the following:
  • You have something to hide
  • You are a control freak and need to control your message
  • Your product or service sucks
  • Your product or service requires a hard sell and pressure
  • You can dish it out but cannot take it
  • You are not willing to improve
If you answered yes to one or more of the above, then social marketing is DEFINITELY not for you!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Refuse to Blog

This is what a client said to me today.

"If I start a blog, I have no control over what they write about me in my blog."

Yes, that is correct, but why should you care? If they like what you do or if they are upset by your business, they'll write anyway. And they'll write anywhere. Like you'll ever control it!

User-generated content belongs to no one and cannot be controlled. But in your blog, you have control over what you write and can use it to speak to your potential customers in their language.

When you get negative comments - what an opportunity to learn! (Cheaper than market research!) And if you show that you are listening and respond, imagine the response you'll get.
You can use your blog to:
  • Ask for feedback
  • Compliment your competitors (where it is due), and
  • Admit when you are wrong.
And then, if you listen and show that you make it better, what are the chances that you'll now have a loyal follower? No guarantees, but what can you lose?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Don't use that tone with me!

How often were we reprimanded growing up about not using that certain "tone" of voice! Social marketing challenges us to the same today.

Social networks have a language of their own and you gotta fit right in... or you'll stand out like a sore thumb! For those who have grown up BSN (before social networks), the lingo just does not come all that naturally.

As Doug Walker (the brain behind the International Society of Rock, Paper, Scissors) said, it is like being at a giant cocktail party. You gotta talk like a socialite, fit in with the conversation that is going on and find the gap to tell your story.

Doug's tips:
  • Shut up and listen
  • Ask, don't tell
  • Use conversational tone (like at the cocktail party!)
  • Treat the first people who join your group like gold because they decide whether your group will grow or die.

I am getting it right in my blog? Why don't you tell me...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Feed the Beasts: Submit to Search Engines.

When a new site is launched, manually submit the URL to these search engines for potentially expediated listings:

Google (feeds 3 other search engines)
Yahoo! (feeds three other search engines)
MSN (receives pay per click results from Yahoo! but feeds no one)
DMOZ (feeds 6 other search engines as well as thousands of small specialty search engines)

If there are other trade secrets around listing new sites on search engines, feel free so share it on this blog.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

New Search and SEO Opportunities

Search engine optimization is going beyond the optimization of text content. Other content that can and should be optimized, includes:
  • Comments on Blogs and other user-generated content
  • Titles and captions of photographs on web albums (Flickr, Picasa, Facebook etc.)
  • Descriptions of video clips on video sites (YouTube, Google Video etc.)
  • Entries in online guest books (if you can still find one!)
  • Directory listings (such as membership or Yellow Pages listings)
  • Content added to maps (Google Maps, Google Earth, Map Quest etc.)
  • Online reviews (such as Amazon or Tripadvisor)
  • Personal profiles (on sites such as Facebook, Linkedin)
Online content is read by robots that interpret all text as letter patterns to be indexed and this includes all the above content. Push your keyword sets consistently on all these spaces.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Biggest Mistakes in Social Marketing

Social Marketing is the latest buzz but there are common mistakes to be aware of.

Whether it is a blog, a social network page or group or other user generated content, beware of these mistakes as presented by Doug Walker of Venture Communications.

Social marketing requires an investment in time and effort.

Seven Big Mistakes

1. Build it and forget it
2. Let it run itself
3. No policy for what user-generated content is acceptable
4. Too strict a policy
5. No maintenance budget
6. No objective (actually, this is number one!)
7. No metrics (there must be some way of measuring results)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Online with WestJet

WestJet has an interesting approach to its Internet marketing. Its progressive use of the Internet certainly contributes to its claim to be North America's most profitable airlines - it is certainly one of the least stressful ones to fly with!

The strategy focuses on a progression - from reaching the mass online market through Search Engine Marketing and Advertising, to individualized desktop service to subscribers.
  • Get Set (Personalized desktop travel offers)
  • Jet Reminder (Emailed Flight Reminders)
  • Jet Mail (E-news)
  • Online Publishing
  • Online Advertising / SEM / SEO

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Break Up ... between the Consumer and the Advertiser

A neat You Tube video that depicts the change in consumers and how it changes the relationship between advertiser and the consumer. Fun to watch!

Pennies and Pounds with Project Management

Project Management Essential
Careful project management makes the difference between a web project that leads or bleeds. This was the punchline of a workshop on project management at the Online Revealed e-marketing conference. Save money, time and a good marriage by following these steps:

Upfront Planning
In a session on web project management, Carson Pierce reiterated the importance of prior planning and spending the needed resources in this all-important phase of the project. This prior planning should flow into a contract between client and web marketer:

  • Objective of the site or project
  • Measurements to determine success or failure
  • Project Scope (including the number and nature of project iterations)
  • Budget
  • Timeline
  • Who is Responsible for what
  • Communications plan: Who talks to whom, when and how?

When the pre-nup is signed and agreed upon, it is shoulder to the wheel to make the project happen:"

1. Discovery
- Goals and objectives for the site/project
- Set success criteria for the site/project (set up Google Analytics at the beginning)
- Define the audience (create a personification of the target audience members)
- Competitive analysis

2. Content
- Development of content plan (who, what, when)
- After receipt of content, modification for usability (SEO and presentation of content).

3. Navigation
Here Carson and I may differ - I develop my navigational structure before I touch content.
He proposes a "card sort" method of post-it notes that a test audience intuitively sort on the wall.

4. Design
He made the sensible suggestion of developing only one design (only one will be used anyway) but to make it GOOD! Do a mood board with colour schemes, imagery and other liked sites.
Do a "wire frame" that indicates to the designer where objects need to be placed.

5. Building the site
This is the web developers work and responsibility to work to web and accessibility standards.

6. Testing
- Test navigation with users upfront.
- Developer testing: does it work and meet the specifications of the project brief?
- Proofread all text!
- User testing: Are goals met? Does it work they way you wanted it?
Carson's comment reinforces what experience has taught me too: Leave enough time for testing.

7. Marketing

Create launch plan upfront (SEO, Media, online promotion, check statistics)

8. Maintenance
Hopefully the site has a Content Management System (CMS) and will simplify ongoing maintenance. The site needs ongoing maintenance: plan for it and work at it.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Thinking like a search engine

Search engine algorithms are as secret as the recipe for Coca Cola. We can kind of figure it out, but if we do, the competitive advantage disintegrates.

After years of work with natural search engine optimization, here is my understanding of how a search engine thinks and how crawler evaluate page content:
  1. If the same word appears in the title, meta description, meta tags alt-tags and
    between 5 – 10% of the body content, then this is probably what this site is about.
  2. If this information appears in the headers of pages and paragraphs, it is probably an indication of important content.
  3. If this same word or phrase occupies more than 11% of the content, the web site is perhaps using suspect means to trick the search engine into higher page ranking and therefore the site should be “demoted”.
  4. If the content contains synonyms that relate to the most frequently used keyword or phrase, this page most likely deserves a higher ranking.
  5. The most frequently used words or phrases on the front page of the web site are probably the strongest indicator what this site is about.
  6. If this site gets a lot of traffic, it is probably a more important site that deserves a higher ranking.
  7. If other highly ranked sites link to this site, it is likely a site that also deserves a higher ranking.
  8. If some of the content changes regularly, it is probably a more important site.