Entries from October 2012 ↓
October 31st, 2012 — Wednesday is Friends Day
Since we’re in the midst of a series on Making the Most of Social Media and today is Halloween, I’m going to share some tricks on how to turn social content marketing troubles into treats.
How to get started with social media
Trouble – The trouble with social media is that when you first start using it, no one listens. And, honestly, no one really cares.
Trick – Write your posts and updates for the few you know who will listen. Friends, family, customers – find out what they want to hear. Make a list of blog post ideas. Then create content about that. And create more. And more. No matter what.
Keep asking for input (or do market research for topic ideas) and keep creating content. Try presenting the content in a variety of ways – images (like Pinterest), video (YouTube), microblogging (Twitter) – see what works best, but no matter what, keep publishing on the networks that fit in best with your industry.
Where should you publish content? Start where your audience is. If they prefer Pinterest, be there. If they hang out on Google+, be there. Just don’t give up.
The treat? It takes time to rise above the noise in social media. But, once you do, you will have built a tribe of loyal followers who can become “brand evangelists” for you and your products & services. Then all your efforts will be worth it!
So, you’ve attracted a few followers – now what?
Trouble – Now that you’ve gained a small following, what should you do to nurture those followers and keep their interest in you and your business?
Trick – Think about who is following you. What are they like? What do they like to do? What are their dreams? Their dreads? Make a list (write it, don’t just think it) of at least 10 of their biggest dreads, then brainstorm a list of solutions to those challenges they are facing. Now, create social media content that presents those solutions to your audience.
Treat – Your audience will first of all keep coming back to consume your content because you’re directly providing the answers they are seeking. Plus, they’ll share your content throughout their social networks to their friends, who are likely facing similar problems. This will help grow your audience, plus you will have developed the most necessary component a marketer needs before you can really start marketing — trust.
Is social media worth the effort?
Trouble – Many bloggers and marketers use social media haphazardly. They don’t measure their results, and therefore have no clue whether or not all their work is working.
Trick – Set a goal for what you hope to accomplish with your social media efforts. Do you want to add X number of people download your giveaway and join your email list? Increase your sales by X percent? The goal shouldn’t be to increase your followers. Having a large following with no results doesn’t have a pay off for your time and effort. Set a goal that focuses on how to capitalize on the work you’ve put into growing your tribe. Spend at least 20 minutes putting your social media goal into writing.
Treat – When you set a goal and measure your progress, you’ll know whether or not what you’re doing is working. Plus, as you provide great content to your followers (you’re helping them solve their biggest problems, remember?), then they will be more likely to convert from leads to customers.
You’ve been at this social media thing a while now and you’re wondering what you’re doing wrong.
Trouble – You’ve gathered a following a set a goal, but can’t get any conversions.
Trick – Content. Yep, content. It’s really the trick to solve almost all of your problems. No one’s buying your product? Create content that focuses on how your product benefits your leads. Create content that educates your audience about your industry so they’ll understand how your products and services can help them.
Make your content remarkable. In other words, make it so compelling, so relevant, so useful to your audience that they’ll be excited to share it with their friends. Use compelling content. Address hot topics. Connect it to current events. Research the type of content your target market is already sharing (Hint: Hang out and participate in their social media communities) and create similar content.
How do you continue to grow your brand using social media?
Trouble – You’ve gained a little success and want to scale it up.
Trick – Keep on communicating with your community. Go where they are. Talk like they talk. Share what they need. Here are the three basic rules of success for social media: Join. Lurk. Share.
Treat – As you join in communities where your target audience hangs out and lurk around, learning more about their dreams and dreads, then you’ll be able to contribute more by sharing content with them. The treat here is that they will get to know you. They will begin to like you. And they will grow to trust you. Then (and only then) will you be able to market products and services to them that will help them even further.
If you’re only in this to market products and services and not to help your audience, you’re in the wrong business. The point (and success) of social content marketing is to help others by providing useful content through the means of social networks. Give away quality, helpful content for free, and that will enable you to sell more helpful, quality content later – after you’ve built a relationship.
Don’t trick people into buying your stuff – treat them to quality content that will help them. In the end, you’ll be rewarded with the treat of growing a successful business.
October 30th, 2012 — Techie Tip Tuesday
Welcome to Part 3 of the Blog Maintenance Checklist series. If you’re just joining this series, we’ve been learning ways to keep our blogs running smoothly. Today’s post will discuss some important items to check concerning your blog’s monetization and RSS feed.
If you missed the first two segments, the Blog Maintenance Checklist Part 1 shared the importance of keeping your WordPress platform and plugins up to date, and the Blog Maintenance Checklist Part 2 discussed making regular site backups, comment moderation, and checking for broken links. Now on to Part 3.
Check your Adsense Ads
If you use Google Adsense to monetize your blog, you’ll notice for the most part, the ads are targeted toward your market. For instance, the ads on this blog promote products related to social media, blogging, content creation, and marketing, which are the main topics I write about.
It’s a good idea to make sure Google is delivering relevant ads to your internal pages, too. Plus, you might not want to display your competitor’s ads on your blog. The best way to double check to see just which ads display organically on your blog is by typing in your URL to http://ctrlq.org/sandbox/. It’s free and only takes a few minutes.
If you notice any ads you don’t want showing up on your site, simply log into your Google Adsense dashboard and click on the Allow & Block Ads tab. You’ll first need to submit a request to the Ad Review Center and wait until the feature is available, which takes about an hour. Then you’ll be able to choose whether or not to have Adsense display an ad.
Check Your RSS Feeds
RSS feeds run smoothly without any help from you for the most part, but it’s a good idea to check them every 3 or so months, just to make sure nothing needs your attention. To check your feeds, open an RSS feed reader (such as Google reader or Google home page) then type in your site’s RSS feed to make sure everything is working as it should.
If you find a problem with your feed, you can type your feed URL into the free online tool, Feed Validator, which will check the feed and offer suggestions on how to fix any problems you may be having.
Coming up next Techie Tip Tuesday, we’ll continue the blog maintenance checklist with a post devoted to analytics.
October 29th, 2012 — Marketing Monday
We’re deep into the throes of football season, and as we go through this Marketing with a Blog series, there are a few lessons we can learn from the big play makers on the grid.
My brother and I don’t always see eye to eye. His alma mater is in a no-name conference that doesn’t get much attention, and although it’s in the same state as my team, they have never played each other. My team is having a pitiful year, even though they ended last season in the top 5 nationally and were ranked in the pre-season top 10. Naturally, he believes his team can beat mine. And this year, they probably could.
But, in order to get the opportunity to play with the big boys, you have to first go through the necessary steps to position yourself as worthy to do so. You have to prove you’re a play maker. The same is true in blogging.
How does one position themselves as a play maker?
In football, you have to construct great facilities, recruit great players, gain great publicity, build a great fan base, develop a great training program, and (typically the first step) hire a great coaching staff.
My brother’s team recently hired a great coach. And he comes with a backstory that keeps his name in the news, well at least in the realm of sports. This new coach, along with the athletic director et al, released plans for new facilities – a huge, expensive project that will make them attractive to recruits. Which means they will soon have more great players. All the pieces of the puzzle are coming together for my brother’s team. Soon, they will likely be a contender – a play maker!
And, to compete well with all the literally millions of other blogs out there, we need to implement those same elements into our blogging gameplan,
- You have to construct great facilities. That means building your blog on the right platform and constructing it in the right way. I use and recommend WordPress for a lot of reasons – for one thing, it’s the easiest platform in which to market your blog. I have written a lot of posts about how to get started with a blog, and I put them all together in a handy resource list titled, “How to Start a Blog.” That list will help you get your facilities game on.As far as structuring goes, create landing pages with pillar articles and include a specific call to action with a lead capture form on all of those pages. I suggest starting with at least 4, and adding 1-2 each month.What topics should your landing page content cover? Look through your analytics and see which keywords are driving traffic to your site already, then create more content on those topics – but place that content on a page, not a post, and add your lead capture form. Here’s a sample landing page from one of my other sites: http://creatingcompellingcontent.com/free/
- You have to recruit great players. For blogging, the “players” are the elements that comprise all the “positions” of your blog – the design, the content, the topic, the purpose — all these must work together in a cohesive manner to create a team. As you carefully select each component, think how it works together in your overall marketing goals.
- You have to gain great publicity. Great publicity doesn’t happen without a lot of behind-the-scenes work. I remember a quote from Queen Latifah, who said after an interviewer asked how she appeared so suddenly on the celebrity radar screen – “Yeah, it only took me 15 years to become an overnight success.” It might not take you 15 years in blogging, but it could take 15 months. Be patient. Be persistent. And soon, all your hard work will come to fruition as you see YOUR blog ranking consistently for all your desired keywords and the traffic starts rolling in.
- You have to build a great fan base. Your fan base (readers) in blogging comes through getting traffic to your blog. That’s done in a variety of ways, including SEO, word of mouth, social media, networking with others in your field, guest blogging, hosting webinars, and joint venture projects.
- You have to hire a great coaching staff. You, of course, are the head coach! And it’s your job to pull together a team of coordinators to help you keep your team (blog) going strong. Your offensive coordinator is your marketing plan. Reputation management and security and backup measures make up the defensive side.
- You have to develop a great training program. Keep informed about the trends in your niche by creating Google alerts for related keywords. Network with others in your industry through conferences and seminars. Read books about your industry. Continue your training in how to blog better by reading this blog and others.
Sometimes great teams call in outside help in the form of consultants and analysts. Bloggers do this, too. If you find you need further help to get your marketing gameplan on track, contact me and I’ll put together a consulting proposal.
Until next time,
October 28th, 2012 — Potluck Sunday
Another week has flown by, so it’s time to share some of the best posts I ran across during the past week.
- 13-Point Checklist to Optimize Social Media Call-to-Action — Heidi Cohen, actionable marketing expert, shares why we need calls to action within our social media content and then gives 13 ways to optimize our social media calls to action.
- 5 Ways to User LinkedIn Answers for Your Next Blog Post — In a guest post by Wayne Liew, we learn how overlooked LinkedIn is by most bloggers. He then gives us tips on how to incorporate this powerful platform into our blogging efforts. There’s even a link to Wayne’s free guide to LinkedIn Answers.
- Infographic: The Growing Dominance of Mobile Search — The Mobile Tech Blog starts off by stating that having a mobile-friendly website is no longer an option. The infographic shares some things all of us need to consider as we optimize our websites and marketing for mobile use, which is on pace to surpass desktop traffic by 2014.
- 5 Link-Building Tactics that No Longer Work – Michael Schwartz over at Vertical Measures explains why these tactics, that have been used and taught by most bloggers for years, are no longer helpful. In fact, they can even harm your rankings nowadays.
- SEO Simplified: 7 Techniques You Can Do in One Hour or Less – Sujan Patel over at Single Grain shares some quick and easy SEO tips that anyone can do. In fact, the first five are tips I share with every one of my clients. These are very easy. Don’t be afraid of SEO – the most effective tactics are usually the easiest to employ.
That’s it for the roundup from last week. I hope your coming week goes well!
Until next time,
October 27th, 2012 — SEO Saturday
During the coming months on SEO Saturday, we’ll be going through the what-makes-a-high-quality-site list presented by Google. Some of those upcoming posts may leave you wondering, “What does THAT have to do with SEO?” Most people think of SEO as some guruish techie skill that no one else can master.
Not true. In fact, just last week the Search Engine Land blog quoted a former Google guy made a statement that rocked the SEO world. Andre Weyher, formerly of Google, recently said, “…what I tend to tell people is the following; if you want to please Google with your SEO, then forget about SEO.”
So, don’t fret if the principles I’ll be sharing with you sound simple. Most of them are. And the best part is, they are principles any blogger can incorporate to make their site trustworthy, not only in the eyes of Google, but more importantly, in the eyes of your readers.
The first question on Google’s list is, “Would you trust the information presented in this article?” Note that the question uses the word “article,” not site. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, Google ranks individual pages within your site, which in turn gives the entire site authority. When I discussed Google’s article last week (“What does Google want from you?“), I went a step beyond Google’s question about trusting the information within an article and instead asked, “Is your site trustworthy?”
Today’s post will share 23 ways to make your site is trustworthy. While researching and compiling this list, I realized how lacking my own site is in this area, so I’ll be adding plenty to my to-do list as I make improvements to On Blogging Well.
- Use a domain-based email. A professional email address gives you instant credibility, thereby increasing your perceived trustworthiness. It doesn’t take long to set one up through your domain’s cpanel, and you can forward it to be read by whichever current email address you’re using.
- A clean, professionally designed site. If your site still sports the flashy, spinning .gif images that were popular in the late 90s, then it’s time to update it. Even my site is “dated” style-wise, and I’m working on a redesign. Websites have styles, just like fashion. Keep your site clean of clutter and up-to-date. You only have a couple of seconds to impress your site guests, and your design is the first thing they see.
- Great content. Spammy, low-grade sites scrape content from other sites, or they have little-to-no “real” content. If you provide fresh, original, useful, and relevant content on a regular basis, this will help paint a trustworthy image for your website. The amount of content also aids in your site’s trustworthiness. If the content to ad ratio is low, your site looks sketchy.
- Dependability. Notice I said “regular basis” in the above point. Pick a blogging schedule and stick with it if at all possible. People get accustomed to your posting schedule, and besides helping increase your website’s trustworthiness, it will help grow your audience.
- Security. Protect your blog by creating regular backups, using security plugins, and, if you do any ecommerce on your site, ensuring the security of the payment processor you use.
- Credentials. You’ve likely chosen the topic you picked because you have the credentials to blog about it. If you own a flower shop, you have the proper credentials to blog about all things related to flowers and gifts. Your credentials don’t have to be blasted all over your blog. Post them discretely on your about page and those who are interested in learning more will find them.
- Links. Link out to relevant, informative references. One of the things that gives great journalists integrity is the sources they cite. This makes their writing trustworthy, and it applies to bloggers, too. Besides, the outbound relevant links will enable search engines to get a better idea of the type of content your blog shares.
- Authority. Authority goes back to the basic writing concept, “Write what you know.” If you babble on about something you have no clue about, your audience will quickly pick up on it, and that will damage your reputation and you won’t be trusted. Authority is similar to credentials, but it goes beyond mere titles and pieces of paper. All the credentials in the world won’t help you if you don’t use them. For instance, I was a music ed major in college. Yet I don’t work in the music field. At my day job, I’m an operations coordinator for a digital services company owned by a large daily newspaper. I spend many hours each week consulting with small business owners about their online marketing goals and helping them develop strategies. Interestingly enough, I got that job because of my “authority” (from being self-taught) in the field, not through “credentials.” Although now, my position gives me credentials in this field.
- Clout. Again, different from authority or credentials, but all three fit together and help increase your online trustworthiness. In relation to online trust, clout is typically associated with social media. I shared a few weeks ago about a website that measures your social media clout in the post, “Got Klout?” Note: The more active you are in your social networks, the more your Klout score will increase. When I first posted about Klout, my score was in the high teens (embarrassing!), but I just checked it and now it’s in the 50s, so keep plugging away. Social media clout is becoming a huge factor in search engine results.
- Advertising. Most bloggers would like to make a little money through their blogs, and ads are one way to do that. Be careful about the types of ads you post (make them relevant to the interest of your audience) and the amount and placement of ads. It was a LONG time before I broke down and put advertising on this blog, but blogging does require a monetary investment, so a little AdSense income helps pay the bills.
- Contact Info. Some people are so worried about identity theft that they won’t post any way for readers to contact them. Use a contact form, create an email address just for your blog. Do something – but let people get in touch with you. I will note that I’ve never posted my physical address on any of my websites. Do be cautious. I consulted with a client last week who had a stalker issue a few years back because she’d posted personal residence info on her blog. Get a post office box and use that address. Don’t put your home address online.
- Comments. Allow comments, but don’t let anyone and everyone post anything and everything. Here’s how I moderate comments, and it works great for me. In the WordPress dashboard under Settings > Discussion, I allow those who have had one previously approved comment to post without further approval. So, once you’ve made one approved comment on my blog, all of your future comments display immediately without you having to wait on me to approve it. This prevents spammer posts from displaying (don’t EVER put your settings to let all posts go live without any moderation) but it doesn’t frustrate my loyal readers.
- Social Shares. This goes along with clout. People notice how many shares your posts have. Some of my posts have been Tweeted and shared on Facebook dozens of times, some haven’t been shared at all. This also helps me decide what my readers are looking for in terms of content.
- Testimonials. If you provide products or services, post a few testimonials on your blog. You can create a testimonial page if you want. People do read reviews and testimonials. Endorsements people make about you on sites such as LinkedIn are another form of testimonials.
- Reviews. Speaking of reviews, collect links from your online reviews and post them in one place on your blog. This is especially important if you have a brick and mortar business. Check Google places and Yelp and Foursquare, then post links to the actual reviews so people will know you’re not making them up.
- Endorsements. Be careful of products you endorse. Try them out first and make sure they’re high quality, useful, and relevant to your audience before inviting your readers to buy them. A few dollars in affiliate commissions are not worth damaging your online reputation.
- Edit. Give your blog posts a quick read through before hitting the Publish button. Most readers will forgive an occasional typo, but if your blog consistently has errors that a little proofreading could have fixed, you’re hurting your reputation and losing trust.
- Check your facts. The Internet can be a big gossip mill. Make sure you post information that is accurate and if at all possible, link to your source. It’s always best to use sources that are credible, too, because anyone can post anything to the Internet – true or not.
- Social Media Profiles. This isn’t directly on your blog, but your profiles contribute to your online trustworthiness. Make sure your profiles are filled out as completely as possible. Include a photo of yourself. And do your best within the parameters of each platform to keep your profile information consistent across the web. Post prominent links to your profiles on your blog so readers can connect with you.
- Use your About page wisely. This is an area I definitely need to improve upon as I re-work my site. Your about page can eliminate a number of trust issues people may have with your site. We’ve already discussed listing credentials and testimonials. You can also use this page to list any professional certifications or associations you have. Put your picture on your about page so readers can get to “know” you.
- Supporting content. Add charts, graphs, screenshots, and statistics within your posts to help support the points you’re wanting to share with your audience.
- Insider Info. Share insider information about your industry with your readers. This step goes beyond building trust and adds to the why should you get your information from THIS blog instead of any other blog out there on this topic.
- Be friendly. Yes, an old proverb states if you want to have friends, you must first be friendly. That’s true when building online trust relationships, too. In effect, bloggers are “Trust Agents,” a phrase made popular by the book with that title written by pro-blogger Chris Brogan. Most people want to know and like someone first before they trust them. Be likeable.
This turned into a VERY long post, but I wanted to make sure you understand all the things you can do to paint a trustworthy image of your blog.