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National Brands without Physical Stores Struggle to Rank for Local and other 2013 #SMX West Insights

My Web Writers Attended #SMX 2013

My Web Writers Attended #SMX 2013

By My Web Writers

How can You Rank for Local, if You’re a National Brand without Local Stores?

Good luck.  There are few alternatives to building physical stores.  When a user types in a qualifying term like “pants Toledo”, he or she is probably looking  for a Toledo clothing store that sells pants.  Often the user is located within 1.5 miles of the store at that time.  In many cases, it’s becoming the norm for national chains, that solely sell online, to fall below the local listings of brands with stores.

How do you get around the local problem if you’re a national chain without physical stores?  Some panelists suggested building local pages on your website, while others suggested empowering affiliates to drive traffic for local, long-tailed keywords. Local landing pages are required and must have phone tracking, pricing, transparency, an adoption plan, and ensured alignment with the national PPC campaign.

Balihoo.com, which offers a free download of going local ideas, suggested starting with 4 – 5 affiliates and empowering them with incentives in local markets.  My Web Writers also published a post on going local back in 2012.

For those businesses that do have physical stores, Scott Nickels of Home Depot shared a story of a map pin to a local store that ended up in the wrong place. Traffic kept flowing to a residential home before the resident finally called to complain about the headlights in her back yard. Store managers have to be aware of the postcard process required for validation of the physical addresses and Maps needs to better hone in on the locales.

Home Depot’s word for 2013 is “local.” Nickels suggests creating one page per store and localizing social, too. He somberly shook his head when an attendee asked, “Do you mean if I have 53 stores, I have to optimize 53 Facebook pages?”

“Yes, yes you do,” he replied.

2013 #SMX West Insights

There are already so many, insightful, #SMX West 2013 recaps floating around the web from various attendees, but here are a few more insights as well as a list of the recaps.

Random Notes from Watching Sites Get Critiqued:
  • Put Java Script and CSS in external script.
  • Don’t use disavow if possible. Don’t tell Google you have a problem unless you have a PhD in understanding linking. You don’t want to accidentally remove links that are actually working for you.
  • Submit articles to Reddit.
  • Canonicals- make sure all products are given credit.
  • PR can build legitimate page links.
  • Shopping cart pages should be optimized with what the latest coupon codes are. Remember to 301 redirect expired coupons.
  • Experiment with Google Plus to get juice for search-ability.
  • Don’t blog just to blog. Consider putting monies toward PR opportunities.
  • Schematag.org – a plugin for WordPress
  • Enrich your Google Places ranking.

Take-aways from other SMX West sessions are as follows:

  • Authorship and identity will matter more over time. False identities will be found.  Do authorities and brands have rank? Individuals have their own brands and should use authorship to maintain them.  Big brands are still struggling with this, which makes it a good time for small companies to utilize Authorship.
  • “Links still have many good years ahead of them.” ~Matt Cutts
  • Social interaction helps to determine SERP’s.
  • Mobile is going to surprise a lot of people. It’s a critical factor.  Isolate mobile in Analytics. There’s a web page test tool that @AnneCushing likes to use to watch a video of how long it takes to load a client’s page.  It helps clients to see the importance of improving site speed- http://www.webpagetest.org/.
  • “SEO is no longer about tactics, but more about strategy.”
  • “Keep the company focused on metrics that matter to the company and not ranking reports.”
  • Duane Forrester says the most important SEO factor for next year is “usability.  It’s more important than h-tags.”
  • Ann Cushing said to “focus less on keywords and more on landing pages.”
  • Matt Cutts reiterated that the “global view is the same as in other years. Give the user what they want.” Annotate your web pages with ‘about of’ markup for Chrome users. You can also disavow at a domain level.
  • Rae Hoffman encouraged SEO’s to “Let go of how easy it used to be.”
  • Greg Bowser said, “Embrace the big data.”

Looking for additional #SMX 2013 Recaps and Insights?  Read these excellent posts:

SEO Success in 2013 & beyond: Matt Cutts & others’ insights at #SMX

Matt Cutts, Duane Forrester talk ‘Adventures in SEO’ at SMX West

SMX West 2013: Top Tips, Tools & Takeaways

Insights from a Conversation with Matt Cutts about Google Authorship

Live Blog Recap: SMX West 2013 Day Three

Live Blog Recap: SMX West 2013 Day Two

Live Blog Recap: SMX West 2013 Day One

My SMX West 2013 Takeaways- Sugar Rae’s blog

What ideas do you have for national brands that want to rank for local search terms? Is there a #SMX 2013 blog post that I missed that you like?

~Jean

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How Can I Better Manage My Company’s Social Media Accounts?

by My Web Writers
Manage Social Media

For many of us, managing our own social media accounts is enough to keep us busier than we’d like. But when you’re given the responsibility of also managing your company’s social media accounts, this task should be given a fairly different approach and a lot more consideration. There’s no doubt that social media holds the power to become a business’s first impression for many of its customers. Because of this, a professional and well thought out social media management plan is critical for any company. Here are a few tips to get you on the right track of tackling this important marketing component:

Create an editorial calendar.

An editorial calendar allows you layout all of your planned social media posts for the coming month. For a company structure where such posts need to be pre-approved by the owner, this is an essential tool. To create an editorial calendar, there are several templates you can find online, or you can simple create a calendar in a Word Doc and format it to fit your needs. All it needs to include is what you’re planning to post and for what accounts. Include the links to any videos or web pages to make for an easy copy and paste action when you do go to post. Finally, an editorial calendar is just as beneficial to you as it is to a company owner. You will be able to easily see how often you’re planning to post and if there are any holes you need to fill. While the calendar may take several hours to initially create, it will make the rest of the month’s social media posting nearly effortless.

Automate your regular updates.

In speaking of making social media posting effortless, what’s less effort than when something is automated? Web sites like HootSuite.com and TweetDeck.com both offer automated social media posting for little to no cost. Once you create your editorial calendar, you can easily plug in the posts and schedule them in advance so that the rest of the month your regular updates are firing off exactly when they should regardless of how hectic your schedule gets. Note: it’s great to use automation for the pre-written tweets and updates, but social media is meant to be live and in the moment. Don’t tune out from all the news and announcements that may crop up unexpectedly that should be shared on social media. Be sure to get these out ASAP the “old fashioned” way—manually!

Make it a group effort.

While one person in a company may be designated as the social media manager, it’s important to remember that social media is meant to be social after all! Make this task a group effort by allowing everyone to offer input on what should be promoted or emphasized on social media. Many of your co-workers might have great suggestions for a contest to run or a question to ask to spark discussion. This input will also help fill up your editorial calendar with fresh ideas without you wracking your brain each month.

Do less, but do it better.

Just as in so many other aspects of life, you simply don’t need to do it all! There are countless social media platforms available to you, but that doesn’t mean you need to use every single one. Your time is not best spent managing 15+ social media accounts at a mediocre level. Instead, focus on your top performing 3-5 social media accounts (the ones with the largest audience and most interaction) and spend your time making these exceptional. For many businesses, these will include Twitter and Facebook to start. From there, you may also find YouTube, Digg or Google+ to be beneficial. Depending on your business and the product or service that you’re selling, your social media focus might be different from other businesses—and that’s OK!

Not only should every social media platform be handled differently, so should every social media account—business or personal. Following these tips, you’ll be able to create a professional image for your company that is both effective and well thought out.  ~Stephanie

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Top Media Managers Reveal Ideas for Better Social Media Marketing

by My Web WritersTips from Top Social Media Marketers

Social media marketing does not often conform to steadfast rules or conventional wisdom.  It’s a skill and a talent that takes patience, practice and a natural ability in order to excel.  Here are just a few powerful quotes from the world’s most experienced and influential social media mangers:

“A large part of this relationship marketing concept is allowing yourself to be a little bit vulnerable and let people in.”(Mari Smith, Social Media Speaker & Author)

Mari makes an excellent point – social media is a platform to get personal and really let people in. For a company, this means showcasing your “human element” and letting your customers get to know you and your people on a more personal level than what can be offered through your web site or business card alone. And from time to time, yes, it’s perfectly OK and sometimes beneficial to express a dilemma, difficulty or weakness and ask your network for input.

“Make influencers a part of your movement, even temporarily, and they’ll understand the brand and its worth far greater than if you just invite them on a factory tour or send them free product.”(Jay Bear, President of Convince and Convert)

This quote connects with one of the key tips to all social media marketing, which is to talk with your audience not at your audience.  Engage your followers! The more you can make your network feel a personal part of something your company is doing, the more they are likely to build a deeper relationship and a vested interest in your brand.

“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage, and build relationships.”(David Alston, Chief Adoption Officer – Marketing Cloud at Salesforce)

When you have something important to say, it’s tempting to fire it out on every medium available to you. While a press release or media advisory are great tools for communicating with traditional press, these won’t work for social media marketing. Furthermore, every post for every different social media account should be slightly tweaked to connect with that specific audience. How you say something on Twitter (with #’s and @’s) won’t resonate on your Facebook page. Create thoughtful and genuine posts for each social medium and your information is more likely to engage and less likely to blend into the white noise.

“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.” (Jeff Bezos, CEO at Amazon.com)

Social media is powerful stuff. And though almost 100% of users would agree to this statement, we all too easily forget how quickly information can catch like wildfire and spread. For positive information you want promoted, this is great. But if you have a disgruntled customer, this could be devastating. This is even more reason to be careful with your actions and words on social media than in the real world because of how easily it can be shared with thousands or millions of other people with the click of a button.

“Social networks aren’t about Web sites. They’re about experiences.” (Mike DiLorenzo, NHL social media marketing director)

If you want to create the absolutely most effective social media to represent your brand and market your business, you must create an experience that is memorable to your networks. Social media is, after all, what broke the mold on traditional marketing. Your options are limitless as to how you can create a unique viral marketing campaign. Don’t settle for the easy or the obvious, continually push yourself to set a new creative standard.

“Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t want plastered on a billboard with your face on it.”
(Erin Bury, Sprouter community manager)

This quote simply says it all – and if it could be made a banner on every social media web site to remind us of this before we post an update, it would save many people and businesses from the all too common social media “uh oh’s!”

Woven inside each of these quotes is a valuable lesson worthy of adding to our set of social media tools. While the authors may come from various degrees of experience and schools of thought, these quotes reach far broader than just social media marketing – and if you think openly – can applied toward many aspects of our business and our life. ~Stephanie

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How Do I Get Followers on Twitter?

by My Web Writers Followers

In the vast world of Tweets and Twitters, half the challenge is simply becoming familiar with this social media platform and getting a professional account up and running. But from there, the game has just begun. You want to begin to share your valuable information with the world around you – and most importantly, for people to listen to what you have to say. To achieve this on Twitter, you need followers.  So, how do you go about organically growing your following both quickly and meaningfully? Here are a few essential tops to getting more followers on Twitter – and best yet, they won’t cost you anything more than a little time.

1. Follow people like you.

Once you’ve spent a few weeks posting updates to Twitter, you’ll likely see a pattern emerge of the topics you most often tweet about. Allow this to guide your search for like-minded users who you’d like to follow and hear more from. For example, if you’re a blogger and most often write about time management and organization, you should consider following other Twitter users who use these keywords in their short bios or handle name. By connecting with people who share similar interests, you’re likely to also gain these people as followers. When possible, use a Direct Message to further introduce yourself and let them know why you chose to follow them. Finally, be sure to follow some of the “Big Tweets” like publications, TV shows and celebrities, who though they’re less likely to follow you back, are likely to open you to a new network of like-minded users who might.

2. Make meaningful conversation.

Once you’ve begun to gain some followers and have earned their ear, don’t lose momentum. Make conversation by using the “@” symbol before their handle name to personally tag them in a post. Learn about your followers, interact with them and become more than just a name on a computer screen – become friends. The closer your relationship is with the people who make up your following, the more likely they are to include you in one of their tweets which will showcase you and your handle to their entire network and likely garner many more followers for you.

3. Be someone worth following.

In addition to building relationships with your following, never stray from the simple but most important rule—be sure your tweets fall into at least one of these categories: funny, valuable, meaningful. In other words, only tweet information that is worth re-tweeting. This tactic will help you earn new followers that find you by their own means and think what you have to say is worth hearing. These are the most organic followers and ones that should boost your ego a bit as well.

4. Market your Twitter handle everywhere.

For as easy as this tactic sounds, it is also easily forgotten. Once your Twitter account is up and running and you’re ready to begin building your network, include your Twitter handle everywhere and on everything. Whether someone visits your web site, blog, Facebook page, Linkedin account or has your business card, they should easily be able to find your Twitter handle. Don’t miss out of this obvious opportunity to build a genuine following from people you know who want to also know you on Twitter.

5. Offer value ONLY found on Twitter.

A final tactic to build your Twitter following is to offer deals, specials or valuable information only found on your Twitter account. Be sure your entire online presence alerts people to this fact (web site, blog, other social media, etc). Essentially this gives people a reason to want to follow you on Twitter and to have the motivation to actually do so. Many businesses will offer special coupons only through their Twitter account or hold a contest where submissions must be done through Twitter. Be strategic with how often you limit your promotions to one social media platform, but if the goal is to gain a specific following, this can be a very powerful tactic.

With these tactics in your Twitter tool belt, you should be ready to build your following. While there are certainly additional tips that can be used and even some paid services which claim to quickly build your Twitter following for you, always keep in mind the following: 1. Build an audience of genuine followers who want to hear what you have to say and 2. Use fun, valuable and meaningful information to keep your followers’ attentions. ~Stephanie

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Social Media Interaction in 2014: What’s Your Plan?

Updated by My Web Writers2013 SM plan

You reflected on the old and planned for the new. You set goals for your career, health and finances in 2014. Just as you will benefit from these positive changes, so exists the opportunity to follow through on those resolutions for your business or blog. As you lay out your plans for growing and improving your business over the coming year, you should take special consideration to your strategy for social media interaction. Whether you would like to improve upon an already successful implementation or simply get a social media presence started, there is no time like the present to make this improvement. Here are some essential tips to include in your social media interaction plan for 2014:

Base your planning off of insights.

Every plan should first begin with research and with social media there is a myriad of resources available to you. If you’re planning to improve your existing social media interaction, first look at your insights from 2014. How many new Facebook fans did you gain? Twitter followers? How interactive were people with your status updates? All of these things will give you an indication of where you’re currently excelling and where you need to place your focus for the New Year. If your plan is to finally create a presence on social media, you won’t have personal insights to go off of, but you can benefit by learning from others. Read blogs, search Google and take note to your competitors’ social media presence. All of this will help you focus your planning where it will be most effective.

Think multi-faceted.

To maximize your social media interaction and effectiveness for 2014, you cannot rely on just one medium. There are countless sites and platforms that can help you reach a broader audience so don’t limit your plan to the top 2 or 3. While having a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin makes sense for nearly all businesses, you should always refer back to your mission statement and target audience to see what other types of social media might be useful. The general rule of thumb is to focus on 3-5 social media accounts and use them exceptionally well. Also, when you find information you wish to share, but sure to coordinate this effort across all of your social media. How customers find you on the web is varied and often unpredictable. A multi-faceted social media presence will ensure you’re fully utilizing all of your tools to reach your target audience.

Consistency is key – set realistic goals you can maintain.

As a business owner, you wouldn’t open a new storefront and fail to staff it with employees to interact with your customers, correct? The same is true for your social media accounts. When you commit to creating a social media account, it’s paramount that you also commit to filling out the profile with professional information and consistently updating the newsfeed with fresh content. This closely ties in to the second point of setting realistic goals you can maintain. Such a commitment for 3-5 social media accounts is doable, but not for 15+ social media accounts. By narrowing down your social media platforms and using only those that most effectively reach your target audience, you will also keep your social media interaction plan realistic and attainable.

You should never have to pay for your friends.

Neither in life nor on social media should you pay for your friends. It’s appropriate for your social media interaction plan to include increasing the size of your network, but you should do so organically. Beware of services that promise to deliver a “too good to be true” increase in your fans or followers. It’s almost certain that it will be too good to be true. Because they’re bought and not earned, these additions are unlikely to be genuinely interested in your brand and therefore unlikely to interact with you or buy into your services. Instead, aim to build your network by interacting with other people and pages, regularly updating your content and promoting your social media accounts everywhere (email signatures, e-newsletters, web site, blog, business cards and more).

Incorporate social media into every other business strategy.

All other components of your business plan for 2014 should weave into and build from one another. Social media interaction is only one aspect of successful branding and marketing. But when combined with advertising, SEO and public relations, it creates a powerful and comprehensive strategy that really starts reeling in powerful results. If there’s an important message you want to spread, make sure you know how you’ll drive it out on social media. If there’s a special deal you want to promote, make sure social media is considered into this marketing strategy. The more you build social media into your business strategy, the easier it will be to maintain and utilize.

Just as achieving any New Year’s resolution takes a great deal of time and commitment, improving your social media interaction is no different. You must recognize the value it holds for you and your business to find the drive to make these changes. Keep in mind these core essentials when outlining your social media interaction plan for 2014 and you will have a head start toward a successful year! ~Stephanie


Other Posts:

12 Steps to Create Your Own Infographic

Ten Tips for Starting a Social Media Conversation

Tell a Better Story: Tips and Tricks from Mark Twain

Content for Less, Fat Brain Toys Involves Customers in Content Creation

Social Media Interaction in 2014- What’s your Plan?

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Social Networking for Business; Success Stories from Three Brands

By My Web Writers

Image courtesy of smarnad / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of smarnad / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The importance of social marketing in today’s businesses can’t be understated. There are countless ways that companies try to capture the attentions of Internet users, striving for thumbs ups, shares, +1’s, tweets, pins, and likes. As Google has started taking these social media indicators into account, the democracy of social media makes an even bigger impact. A creative, consistent approach to using social media, to actually interact with consumers, sets some brands above the others.  Just consider these three brand’s social networking, success stories:

Mod Cloth

Created by Susan Gregg Koger and Eric Koger when they were still in college, over the last couple of years, ModCloth has become one of the fastest growing apparel retailers. The brand specializes in retro-inspired independent designers and vintage apparel. Social media is a prominent part of the brand and the website, as ModCloth highly encourages customer involvement. Through the perpetual Be the Buyer program, customers vote on which styles the company should stock. Occasionally, the company also runs design contests or “Name It and Win It” contests to name pieces of apparel, facilitated by Twitter (the brand has 800,00+ followers) or the ModBlog. Run by a team of “social butterflies,” the social marketing side of the business helps generate and sustain buzz around new products and promotions. In an interview with Thoroughly Modern Marketing, social media manager Natasha Khan explained that the contests on sites such as Twitter and Pinterest help generate consumer interest and earn new customers. For example, “Every month we do a Twitter topic mashup! For example, one month, we asked our followers to mash up fashion terms and famous books using hashtag #literaryfashion. The contest gained us not only fans, but attention from acclaimed poet Margaret Atwood.”

Oscar Mayer

Recently, Oscar Mayer sent comedian Josh Sankey on a trip across the country with only Butcher Thick Cut Bacon to barter with—no money. The journey was logged at BaconBarter.com as well as through a variety of social media outlets including Sankey’s twitter feed, the brand’s YouTube channel, and Facebook page. As the story progressed, Sankey received an onslaught of tweets from an audience entertained by what he was able to trade bacon for. Further, the antic-based ad received coverage from mainstream news sources such as The Huffington Post. Sure, bacon’s already having a cultural moment, but, despite a hard year for farms, Oscar Mayer took advantage of the zeitgeist and created a bacon story that people would follow, increasing the social networking of their brand.

Etsy

As the go-to hub for handcrafted and vintage goods, Etsy and Pinterest are a match made in heaven and the brand has taken advantage of the naturalness of that pairing. The brand uses pinboards on Pinterest to showcase goods as well as how-tos and informative pieces from their blog. Their popular treasuries and gift guides work excellently as pinboards, promoting sales as well as interaction between consumers and the site. Hubspot notes, “You can of course connect to the thousands of items for sale on its ecommerce site, but Etsy’s account also shows you how you can make your own products and how to put their products to work in your daily life, which again, emphasizes the lifestyle philosophy that Pinterest promotes.” In this way, the brand uses Pinterest to make already existing components of their site more accessible and bookmarkable for users.

Even if you don’t have the budget or base of one of these big brands, you can still make social media work for you. Check out our Social Media Tips for Small Businesses for ideas on how to amplify your voice in social networking. Or, see Mashable’s Infographic on Social Media Marketing for must-have facts about social networking. ~Kasey

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Five Social Media Contest Ideas for E-Tailers

by My Web Writers

Vision.

Energy!

Enthusiasm…

And a whole lot of FUN!

That’s what it takes to host a successful social media contest if you’re an e-tailer.

Soooo…..

Are you as familiar as you should be with all those social media websites you use? It’s just a question (one that will make the difference in how much traffic you gain as a result of sponsoring your contest); but it’s only a question, just the same.

Facebook

Sharing a post and offering a prize to people who promote it the best is fairly easy to do.  Share a few posts (of specific items) and give a prize to the person who comments the most on all of them.  Rules for commenting may apply.  It’s also important to follow Facebook Rules for Contests.

Of course, we all know the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Photo albums are always fun to look at on Facebook.

Have your audience make a crazy photo album using product(s) from your e-store. This is particularly great to do with your satisfied customer base, as it will reward them for their patronage. Once customers have created their album, they can link back to your Facebook page and all your followers can vote on the best album.  The grand prize will be a goody, and runners up’s will win a few small tokens, too. Plus, all participants can receive a special coupon via email.

Pinterest

Speaking of pictures…

Pinterest is a gold mine for them.

Pick your favorite product and host a Pin It to Win It contest and drawing. Start the pinning, and everyone who plays gets entered into a drawing to win the product.

Name that Product Contest is another unique and fun idea. Pin a product and encourage participants to come up with a fabulously catchy name for it, submitted in the comments. Then, send them back to your Facebook page, where people can vote on the best name. This way, you draw traffic to your site from both Pinterest and Facebook simultaneously!

On-site Scavenger Hunts

This is a little tricky, so you need to plan it well. Use your blog as home base. Send people off in search of a specific product, via visiting other product pages. On each of those product pages, they’ll know they’ve found the clue, because they’ll be sent back to home base (a separate blog post) when they do. Upon finding the last clue, customers will be sent back to home base, where they can provide information to receive their prize.

Contest Necessities

It’s true. Contests can be a lot of fun, especially for excited participants. As a host, however, it’s important to remember a few details.

  • Encourage more participation, by making it easy to enter.
  • State the rules clearly from the start. Make them concise and easy to follow.
  • Understand and follow social media rules, before hosting a contest on networks, to avoid unnecessary repercussions and consequences.
  • Choose prizes wisely, and make them worth the effort of participating in the contest.
  • Articulate clear parameters, including beginning and ending dates, participation requirements, limits in prize availability and the like.

Other Social Media Contest Ideas

We’ve compiled a list of sites with additional, creative ideas for running contests.  If you’re short on staff to effectively run these contests you can always hire additional, social media professionals.

The Beginners Guide to Running Social Media Contests 

4 Awesome Types of Successful Twitter Contests

Boost Your Social Media Marketing: 5 Creative Ideas

5 Great Facebook Contest Ideas

9 Businesses Using Pinterest Contests to Drive Traffic and Exposure

~MJ

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