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Blogging is Doing

Search engines are used by billions of people every day, helping them find products to buy, stores to buy them from, information on anything imaginable or the directions to their grandmother’s house. Because search engines are such a huge part of consumers’ lives, they have become a huge part of how companies do business. Users are often unaware of the existence of businesses because they don’t show up on the first page of search results, creating the need for business to employ search engine optimization (SEO) in order to gain a wider audience and generate profitable conversions.

Having an official blog is an effective method of gaining rank in various search engines, particularly since Google’s Panda update was rolled out, favoring pages with high quality content over weak, shallow pages. As part of both a social media marketing campaign and a service being provided to customers, a well-maintained, attractive blog featuring informative, useful content can provide tremendous support for a business.

By emphasizing valuable content and displaying the knowledge of the company’s employees in their field, a corporate blog can build relationships with customers while gaining the positive attention of Google and Bing. Integrating the blog into social networking initiatives and making it part of a cohesive brand will increase the likelihood of being ranked highly in search results and of increasing customer retention and brand awareness.

Content is King

Google’s Panda update made it clear that the search engine values quality content over anything else, particularly the overuse of keywords. While websites could formerly get away with having long pages of machine-generated, mostly incoherent text that included repetitive uses of the same keywords, the method for gaining ground in the post-Panda world revolves around well-written pieces that match the context of the site. By writing content with customers and potential customers in mind, businesses can satisfy both their intended audience and search engine bots.

Show What You Know

In addition to providing well-written, pertinent information on their blogs, companies should provide useful information for consumers. Blogs should not be used to advertise a company’s products (though a short post announcing a new product is okay) but should instead educate customers on frequently misunderstood aspects of their business or field. For example, a heating and air conditioning repair company could feature blog posts concerning tips for homeowners to keep their HVAC systems running efficiently or posts describing the various heating and cooling options available to homeowners, along with their strengths and weaknesses. By providing valuable information to consumers, businesses have an easier time maintaining brand awareness with potential customers and being seen as leaders in their field.

Get the Word Out

Every blog post should be accompanied by social buttons that will allow readers to share the post with their friends and colleagues on the most popular social networks, such as Twitter, Google+ and Facebook. Integrating the company blog with other social platforms can increase the visibility of each post–and the blog as a whole–to both consumers and search engines. By keeping the user experience integrated and as seamless as possible among the various social platforms and the company’s website, users will be able to recognize the company and its brand more readily and search engines will notice the uniformity and rank the site more highly.

I like you so I will like your Facebook Page

Facebook Thumbs Up

By the time you get a few hundred friends on Facebook you will start getting TONS of Facebook page suggestions.  These are the little notifications that ask you to “like” a page.  I don’t know about you, but I get more of these than I care to dwell on.  Honestly, I generally say “ignore”.  It isn’t that I don’t like the page.  I might find the topic interesting.  If I find the name of the page interesting enough, I might even check it out.

The reality is, most of the time I don’t click the link.  Most of the time I just hit “ignore” and move on.

So when do I “like” something?  Well, it is all based on who is suggesting it.

  • If a personal friend suggests it
  • If it is someone who I respect
  • If it is thoughtful, like a topic I am deeply interested in
  • If it is a business colleague

When am not going to “like” something?

  • If a personal friend suggests it who sends me 100 suggestions a day
  • Someone I am “friends” with, but don’t know
  • Someone who does not interact with me
  • If it is something to which I have no interest

The most important factor of these lists is the friend element.  If I get a suggestion from someone who interacts with me, who I consider a friend either because I know them in real life or because we have formed a relationship of Facebook, if it is someone who has made thoughtful comments and suggestions in the past.  Essentially, if I like you and respect you then I am  more likely to like your suggestion.

So if  you want people to “like” your page, then work on your relationships.  Talk to your friends. Engage with people.  Reach out to people.  If you have quality relationships, this will translate to fans.

It is all about relationships!  The more you give, the more you will get back.

Spam May be good for Breakfast but Not for your Business

The different social networks fill various needs for its users. Linked In is better for B2B and professional networking. Facebook is your social circle online. Twitter is everything from friends to business to news. If you are trying to build your business, or your online reputation, then you are most likely on most of these social networks. Now that you are there, how do you get people to visit your blog, your site, buy your product, vote for you, donate money, etc. In essence how do they become clients?

The biggest mistake people make is spam. We have all seen the people who get out there and talk about their product…all day…all the time…incessantly…ad nauseum. If you want to be ignored, do this. You will be hidden on Facebook and no one will read your tweets.

If you want people to become clients, then you need to become friends first. You need to become a real person online.

  • Be the person who shares information.
  • Be the person who says good morning and wishes people happy birthday.
  • Be the person who re-tweets other peoples blog posts.
  • Be the person who offers good advice, for free, for no other reason other than you can.

Now you are dynamic. You are interesting. You are a source of information and you are someone people will look to. In the midst of all this good will, tell people about your business. Ask them for their support. Pepper your own goals into your relationship development. Your friends will respond to your requests. They will read your posts, they will go to your site, they will give you their support. They will do this because you are multi-faceted and not all about yourself. They will do this because you have build real relationships with them.

You have no control over your brand, embrace it!

Every company wants to have complete control over their brand. You want to be able to control what is said about your brand, whether it is you or someone else saying it. This is precisely why some businesses are nervous about going into social media, because they do not have that control. However, social media is happening whether you are a part of it or not.

This lack of control is not actually new with social media, it is just bringing it to a new level. Word of mouth reputation always existed. News publications would write product or business articles either in support of, or against, a brand. Then there is the Better Business Bureau and Consumer Reports. Once the Internet became popular along came service and product reviews, website reviews, blog reviews. The big difference now is that social networks like Facebook and Twitter are potentially increasing the conversation about your brand. People can write about you to their friends, on your page, or just generally comment.

Recommendations from someone you know are the most influential. So just as a good report from a friend about your brand can boost sales and referrals, a bad report can potentially damage them. However, this is where it is not necessarily cut and dried. Usually:

Good recommendation =  more business, sales, referrals, increase in reputation

Bad recommendation =  less business, loss of sales, damage to reputation, no control over impact of bad publicity.

On Social Media:

Good recommendation = more business, sales, referrals, increase in reputation, plus increased sales leads, fostering of relationships, demonstrating an interest in your clients, client interaction becomes a resource

Bad recommendation=  you have the ability to communicate with the person who wrote the bad review, an opportunity to resolve the issue and increase customer service and client relations, talk about issue publicly, communicate, dismiss rumors, respond to bad press and turn it into something good.

Essentially the conversation is happening whether you are part of it or not.  So it is time to accept that you have no true control over your brand.  What you do have control over, though, is your brand’s ability to communicate and engage.

Social Media: The Fundraising Powerhouse

Raising Money

Social media has changed the face of campaigning.  We are seeing more of our political candidates making their voices heard on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Besides being a great way to get your voice heard, build relationships with your constituents, communicate with people and promote your campaign, social media is also the newest platform for campaign fundraising.

On the campaign trail you meet a lot of people, but you can’t meet or talk to everyone. This is where social media seems like an obvious benefit. Think of how many conversations you can initiate and how many people you can ask for contributions – it would take months to knock on that many doors. But with Facebook and Twitter you can reach thousands in seconds. The problem is, it is not as simple as just asking for money. When people meet and talk to you, they are more compelled to donate to your campaign. You have spoken with them, and they have made a commitment to you. When you write a post asking for money, it is easy for your friends to ignore it or pretend they never saw it. If it is cleverly worded, you might even get a few “Likes”, but that does not mean that a donation is following the public show of support. So the big question is, how can you harness social media for fundraising?

Talking to New Mexico Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, Brian Colón

Brian Colón, Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, found the answer to that question. As with all social media, it is all about the relationships. It is not enough to simply ask for money. If you were collecting donations at an event, you’d be offering food and drink, conversation and networking. In short, you are building and sustaining relationships. Online, it is simply not enough to post updates about your campaign and have a website. You have to interact with your friends and followers. You have to create buzz and excitement.

Brian Colón managed to do that with his big fundraising push in April and May. After receiving $138,000 in online donations, he raised more money than almost any other Lt. Governor candidate in the country. He was also publicly recognized for a 48 hour period as the top online fundraiser in the country on ActBlue, the online clearinghouse for Democratic action.

I recently spoke to Brian about these successes. He said he wanted his campaign to be the “gold standard” in New Mexico for political social media. With more than 3,200 friends and a highly interactive social media presence, he accomplished this. Brian said, “My campaign was built on social media. I won the primary by 5,000 votes. Facebook and my online activity got me those votes. I would have been at risk of losing the election without social media.”

Brian didn’t just use social media to bring awareness to his campaign, he was able to harness his influence into tangible fundraising results. On Facebook and Twitter he was open with his fundraising goals, and posted updates about how much was still needed to reach those goals. During big push times he would even post about who donated, giving them public thanks and appreciation. In many ways this is the social media equivalent of the ticker running on the bottom of the screen during the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon. We all call in because we want to see our name at the bottom of the screen. Brian Colón managed to capture that atmosphere and enthusiasm.

Taking inspiration from the telethon, Brian said, “My father was one of Jerry’s Kids. I have been raising money my whole life, whether it was walking around with a fish bowl raising money for MDA or walking the campaign trail. I have always recognized the value of seeing my name on TV. People like recognition. The telethon was an inspiration.” Brian successfully translated that inspiration into social media with his updates about who donated and how much. He was able to convert the excitement into real contributions.

I asked Brian what advantages he found in social media fundraising vs. more traditional methods. He said, “People are motivated to do it online because it’s instant. When someone says they are going to drop a check in the mail you have a 50% chance of it happening. It’s not that people don’t want to donate, it’s that writing a check is inconvenient.”

The “instant” quality of social media fundraising combined with the telethon style promotion of fundraising efforts creates a momentum that direct mail and phone calls simply cannot generate.

Fundraising on Social Media: Plusses and Pitfalls

Many candidates learn the hard way that adding a donation button to a website causes almost nothing to happen. Donations are a by-product of the decision to support a candidate. They are not isolated actions, but an integral part of the campaigning process. They are a financial show of support that is tied to the relationship between the candidate and the contributor. Social media is becoming one of the best tools to build and maintain voter/candidate relationships.

On the verge of becoming the best way to leverage a candidates’ time, social media is a public conversation.

Some people are still reticent about donating online. They are wary of sharing credit card information. They don’t trust that their information won’t be used to spam their email box. They are embarrassed about the size of their donation. They don’t want to sign up for an account on another website. However, sites like Paypal , ActBlue and Fundrazr protect your transaction and your information. You can help quell your online community’s concerns by addressing them in your social media fundraising efforts. Post about the safety of online contributions;  address their issues publicly and give them the option of sending in a check.

Candidates who use social media are moving from simple tools that handle small pieces to a much more sophisticated system that treats every interaction with a voter as an important piece of their political relationship. Political relationship management is the next evolution of campaign management and social media is the keystone of that strategy.

Talking in Tags: The Language of Status Updates

Tags are a current language in Twitter and Facebook status updates. People are no longer just writing in sentences or brief thoughts, they are now writing in tags and hashtags.

We are all getting used to reading and ignoring the # sign, and making sense of  words strung together, like #plansforfridaynight: we are learning to read it as “plans for Friday night”.

As we get used to seeing these tags, they are getting more integrated into the writing of the post itself, instead of appearing at the end of a post to simply identify a topic.

Why is this happening? Why are people tagging each other in posts and hashtagging words and phrases in Twitter and Facebook?

At its most simple level it’s interconnection. When you tag a friend in a Facebook update or a Twitter post, they will find out that you tagged them.  Think of it like talking about someone in the third person, when they are standing right next to you. You might not be talking directly to them, but you are including them in your conversation. It also allows other friends to potentially make a new connection because you have given them the social media equivalent of an informal introduction.

From a networking point of view, if you tag someone and say they helped you with a business project, that might alert another one of your friends that this person could be a resource. It is a wonderful way to share information and give informal recommendations. This builds and strengthens business relationships.  If you are someone who is generous with tagging, then people will be more likely to be generous with you in return. And from here, your network grows from 1 person to 10, to 100, to 1000.

Hashtags are a little different than tags because they are associating your post with a keyword. However, the idea behind dispersing the information is the same. Instead of tagging a person, you are tagging a trend, a keyword or an idea. Now anyone who is interested in that tag can connect with you, and the shared interest is facilitating that connection. If it is a business concept, then the more people see you using that tag, the more likely they are to associate you with that industry or interest.

The use of tags and hashtags as integrated elements of posts and updates reiterates the social component of social networking. People are not simply thinking in terms of sharing their experiences or thoughts, they are also sharing their friends, their connections and their resources. They are interacting with the potential inter-connectivity supported by social networking. The integration of tags and hashtags in writing shows that we are thinking beyond ourselves and our immediate social circles. We are thinking in terms of more holistic community interaction.

Hiring Consultants is Good for Your Sanity

Most of us will feel overwhelmed with our business at some point. Balancing work, home, personal life, relationships, and finances can be too much to deal with.  Then add in to that being a business owner. Not only are you working, but you are strategic planning, financial planning, creating and implementing marketing strategies, managing admin, networking, sales, and on and on and on.  You are wearing so many hats that you don’t have a hat rack big enough to hold them all.

When we are growing our business ROI (return on investment) is extremely important.  This is not to say that ROI is not always important and relevant, but when you are starting up often funds are limited. Your money needs to be able to pay your business expenses, your personal bills, hopefully a salary, and then your business development expenses.  Though this should be the most important in that list, it is usually the one item that gets pushed to the last. But sometimes investing in your business development will give you ROI that goes well beyond a dollar per dollar scale.

Consultants are an excellent way to solve many of your business problems.  As a Social Media consultant, not only do I facilitate the creation of an online marketing strategy, but I implement that strategy.  I also monitor and manage your social networking accounts. I can write your blogs, post your tweets and send your DM’s and Facebook emails.  I create online events, and then manage and promote those events.  I provide you with tutorials on how to use the technologies that will facilitate your business development, or ease of use of for your management needs. When you have a tech question, or a social media question, or a business question, or a relationship development question, or just need to vent about your business and being overwhelmed, I am there to help, advise or just listen.  As a consultant, I do more than just A+B=C, I deliver A+B=Zcubed.  I solve many of your business and work life problems, from the mundane day to day admin tasks to outlining your business development and helping you get back to whatever it is that you love to do, and that you do best. What I do best is help you to be your best.

Sometimes taking off some of your hats and giving them to other people will give you more help than the direct ROI.  Some of the unmeasured ROI is your sanity and peace of mind.

Speaking of Nerves

Nervous speaking, looking at you

I recently spoke at Emerge NM.  It was to a class of women who are learning to become the next democratic leaders in New Mexico.  Overall I think the talk went well, but it was not great. I was nervous. Not over the top, hands shaking, voice quivering, paralyzed legs nervous.  But still nervous.  It is easy to get comfortable behind our computer screen. I can feel compelling and dynamic when I have the ability to edit my thoughts.  In person, there is no delete button.

Public speaking is not a gift that people have. Some people are better than others, but the reality is, if you want to be a good pubic speaker you have to get out there and speak.  In many ways it would be easier if we had a head set to amplify our voice, an audio/video tech who will operate your power point presentation and log in to the websites you want to showcase, and an audience who attention and interest is infallible.  However, you don’t get that swanky treatment until you already are a good speaker.  So you have to adjust your voice to the room.  You will have to learn how to speak and scroll through your presentation.  You will have to decide to hold notes or memorize your presentation.  You will have to learn not to speak at 90 miles a minute.

This is my problem. I get excited and I speak quickly.  Key to making sure your audience understands what you are saying is to at least speak slowly enough for them to understand the words.

Build Your Career with Passion

Listen to internet radio with Build Your Career With Passion on Blog Talk Radio

I was just on the show and it was great! Dennis Charles has a wonderful show on a wonderful topic.  You should listen, subscribe and become and avid follower! I know I am. =)

NFO is the new SEO

NFO

NFO is the new SEO

If you want your business to be successful, if you want your profile to grow, if you want your blogs to be read, they have to be seen.  It is fairly simple. If no one see’s your post, then you might as well have not made it.

We all like to think that our friends will pay attention to anything we post.  Well, not to burst your “sense-of-importance” bubble, but that is probably not true.  Lets face it, we pay attention to every post of only a handful of our friends, the rest we glance at. If someone has posted something interesting or eye catching then we might take a second look.  If Sally talking about her never-ending summer cold, or Joseph is posting pics from his latest BBQ, they probably don’t really care if you see it or not. They are just sharing bits and pieces of their lives.  However, if you are a business or a public figure, you want your posts to be seen, and to be read, and even commented on.  You want to make sure you are appearing in your friends newsfeed. Otherwise, what are you doing?

NFO is the new SEO. News Feed Optimization is the new “art” of newsfeed ranking.  Just like the search engines, Facebook has an algorithm that decides what goes on your newsfeed.  For the tech-geek in us all, the algorithm is called EdgeRank.  If you like Latin and algebra, then here is what it looks like:

Ʃuewede
e=edge
ue – affinity score between viewing user and edge creator
we – weight for this edge type (create, comment, like, tag, etc.)
de – time decay factro based on how long ago the edge was created

(formula for EdgeRank from <a href=“http://techcrunch.com/2010/04/22/facebook-edgerank/”>TechCrunch</a>)

In case you don’t speak formulaic math, this means that your post is weighted by your “affinity score” multiplied your the type of content multiplied by the amount of time that has passed since you posted.  Your “affinity score” is essentially your level of engagement.  If you comment, tag, post, and generally interact with people you will have a higher affinity score.  Yet another reason why automatic posting is not always a good idea.

The type of content, or weight, has a big impact.  Multimedia content has a higher Edge factor than just an update.  However, if you only post links, videos and pics, you will not dominate the news feed.  The formula takes balance into account.  The formula wants a well rounded social media interaction.

In addition to multimedia content weight takes general interactions into account.  If you tag someone in your post, add an @ before their name, you will rank higher.  The more people like your post or comment on your post, the better your rank. Though a comment is better than a like.

If you want to be seen then you must engage and engage dynamically.  You must update your status, tag your friends, post pics and videos and interact with your friends comments.  The formula wants to make sure that well rounded and equally interactive people get the most Facebook “face” time.

Though Facebook is not replacing search engines, it is becoming a source of information from breaking news to public opinion and shopping.  It is the best word of mouth. Not only can you hear about how your friends liked something, but you can hear from their friends and so on.  In the constantly changing content of the newsfeed, gaining visibility is vital to your social media success. News Feed Optimization may become more mportant to your social media strategy than search engine optimization (SEO) is to you web strategy.

…oh yeah, and if you use the word ice cream or sex in your post, you will get a better rank.

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