Category Archives: Social Networking

Search Engine Optimization Blog: The Website & Web Marketing Conundrum

"I don't have a budget really, tell me how much will it cost me to get a five page website?".

 
"Uh, I don't have any money right now, I need to start making money before I can justify spending money on web marketing."
 
"I've put hundreds of thousands into this business and I really don't have any more money so my budget is around $1000 for getting my website done."
 
"I've spent thousands on getting my website and on search engine optimization but my website still looks like crap and I've not had any results or any leads even though I was promised results."

Do you see anything wrong with these statements? 

Well, let me tell you MY answers to each one of these statements: 

Why don't you have a budget in mind? You know what you want to spend? Cause the minute I tell you it's going to cost you a minimum of $2500 to get a website, your answer is going to be "oh, that's too high".
 
Have you heard the saying "You gotta spend some to make some?". Well, that applies to marketing more than anything else. People don't JUST know the "golden arches" or the slogan "just do it". Ask McDonald's and Nike how much money they spent on developing that brand and positioning for themselves. And you can't make money without spending money on marketing because no one knows you or your superior products and services UNTIL you tell them.
 
You've put hundreds of thousands and you are going to spend a 0.00000000001 percent of that on a website that will drive visibility, branding, and leads 24X7? Enough said?
 
Uh, ok. So your website looks like crap and you paid for it, why? Why take delivery of a website you don't like, never liked, and don't think meets your needs? And you spent money on marketing that didn't produce results. Did you define what the success goals were? Did you give it time? Did you work with a professional who could show you past experience and credentials or did you spend the money with the next door neighbor's kid's girlfriend who is "good with computers"?
 
Business owners, understand the value of a professional company doing your website. Understand that $1000 on a website is not the "right price". I'm not saying you have to spend $50,000 or even $10,000. But let a professional company quote you a website that will help you grow your business and will fit your budget.
 
And as far as web marketing goes, jump on the bandwagon for online marketing now. Cause your competition already has and trust me when I say that you may not even remain standing when the dust settles.

Search Engine Optimization Blog: Don’t look, Your Competition is Racing Ahead!

Facebook is free. So is Twitter. "Build your own websites" are being offered for $10 per month and the next door neighbor's kid's girlfriend can create your website for $500, all of which is profit for her cause she's only 18 and her time's worth squat.
 
Business owners seem to think that website development and website marketing are non-essential, still! Even in this day and age of the Internet being so dominant, I find companies who don't have a website (doctors are especially notorious for thinking they don't need one) and companies who have websites that were created nine or ten years ago and never been updated. So many business owners tell me "my business is primarily referral driven" or "my primary clients are the auto industry so I don't need a website".

 
90% of the business owners I come across are looking for the cheapest deal to get their website fixed, redone, or marketed. And there appears to be a misconception among business owners that "new media" means hiring college-age kids who HAVE to be good at managing Facebook and Twitter because "they get it". 
 
Uh, hello????

  • Is your company lawyer a third-year student in law school?
  • Is your company accountant a kid who just graduated with an accounting degree?
  • Is your PR person (if you have one) a teenager who "kinda sorta knows how to write"?

 
Why then is your website developer also either your computer troubleshooter, your engineer who kinda sorta knows how to fiddle with the computer, or teenage kid who took a couple of web design classes?
 
It's BEYOND time that business owners understand the real purpose and value of a website and web marketing.
 
A website is no longer a static, three to five page brochure that is just put up there cause you need to have a website. A website is a tool to create efficiency in the office. It is a marketing haven for showcasing expertise, satisfied customers, and more. It is also a 24X7sales & marketing person that collects leads for you and tells everyone what you do while you are sleeping or vacationing or doing whatever.

I can go on and on and on and on……

But I'm not going to go on and on. I'm going to give you some pretty solid insight into the case for websites and web marketing.

  • Web marketing IS the MAIN way to market yourself. No, that doesn't mean you get rid of other traditional marketing methods. But your traditional marketing methods MUST BE MARRIED to this new way of marketing, regardless of whether you believe in it or not.

  • Hiring teenagers or college going youths to do your website and or your web marketing is foolish. Not only will it cost you precious time and money, it can potentially damage your company's reputation and brand positioning. 

  • You've invested hundreds of thousands in your business, if not millions. Then why are you so hesitant to invest a fraction of that in your website and your web marketing? Especially when the return is so much greater?

 
So business owners, it's time to get with the $10000 cash or payday approved program! Cause if you still don't and your competition does, guess what? Yep, you're going to be SOL (So Outta luck)!  If so, see these tenant guarantor loans offers.

Search Engine Marketing Blog: More Marketing on Twitter – Promoted Tweets?

Well duh! Finally! Twitter wants your money. Twitter has started advertising in our timelines to begin making money from its user base. Twitter has started offering  "promoted tweets" that are visible in a user's personal profile based on followers and interests.

In the past three years since Twitter's launch, this is the first monetizing strategy that has been implemented.

Twitter has 25 million global users and with these promoted tweets, advertisers can get access to them. Tweets will be clearly marked "promoted" so that they can be distinguished from other tweets. Twitter plans to tailor the advertisements to the interest levels of its users for more personalized marketing.

(P.S. FYI Twitter also charges Google and Bing over $10M a year to access its content and make it visible in search engines.)

Here's what a promoted tweet looks like:

 
promoted tweet
 

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Facebook Ban in German Firms – Smart or Short-Sighted?

So conspiracy theory nuts may tell you that social network sites are created with the express purpose of the Government spying on us, individuals. And to sort of validate their fears, we hear about privacy violations and an increase in cyber crime, mostly by non-government entities but according to conspiracy theorists, who knows!
 
But a new report shows that top German companies are blocking access to Facebook & other social networking websites over security concerns and the fear of corporate espionage.

According to the report, German companies fear viruses through links from these social networks and the fear that their employees may inadvertently leak trade secrets online in various forums, chats, and social networks.

Companies like Porsche and a German back are just two examples of companies that have restricted the use of Facebook and Youtube over espionage fears. Productivity or lack there of is another reason for the ban but that's to be expected anytime employees are given the chance to go to the Internet.

As I mention in a previous blog, these are all very valid concerns but I believe that there is a way to protect the company against these fears through some very clear social networking policies, centralized social media implementation, implementing robust monitoring tools, and providing ongoing awareness & usage training to employees. And the same processes we use to protect against corporate espionage while using email need to be employed here.
 

Search Engine Marketing Blog: The Case for Social Media Marketing & the Business Owner Dilemma!

If you haven’t heard of at least Facebook & Twitter, you are perhaps living in a cave or in the mountains where the “digital” world hasn’t intruded. The Internet has leveled the playing field for small business owners who can compete with bigger brands without spending an arm and a leg. Social media websites have leveled the playing field even further by providing national and international reach.

Impact of Social Media on our daily lives
 
Our daily lingo has changed to include cryptic phrases like "tweet me", "hit me up online", and "skype me". If you haven't succumbed to this cryptic phraseology, Congratulations! But then again, don't get too happy, you're going to start talking in the same weird lingo very, very soon!

As if the weird lingo (including short forms such as LOL, ROFL, BTW, L8TR, etc.) isn't enough of a shock to deal with, almost on a daily basis our emails are bombarded with invitations to join this social network or that. Yes, I know right! There's barely enough time in the day to do our work, never mind join yet another network!

And did you ever think a day would come when the Government would need to implement new rules to ensure public safety by not "tweeting while driving" or "texting while driving"?

The Business Owner Dilemma

To go online or not!  To engage on Social Media platforms or not? How to find the time? How to determine how much time to spend online? Who to assign to do the online marketing? Hire an outsider or give it to the admin to do it as part of her job? Do it themselves or hire an intern? How to calculate ROI (return on investment) of their online investment?

And so on and on and on. You get the point!

Social Media is just another channel!

As a business owner, you must look at Internet Marketing as “just another channel", not to mention the MOST cost-effective channel” to promote your business.

If we could all afford to place an ad on a billboard that is on the most popular highway in town, we’d all do it, right? Similarly if as business owners we could afford radio and television advertisement, we’d all be there in a jiffy. But those media are all expensive and not really cost-effective for most of us. Social media websites on the other hand are free to use. (More about free later in this write-up.)

Social Media for Lead Generation!

You go to networking events to meet people in person to help showcase your business. The more you meet them the more you learn about them and their business. Over a period of time, this becomes your trusted network for leads and new business opportunities.

Similarly, social media websites allow business owners to conduct networking except it is online so it provides ease of use and allows you to reach a wider reach. The purpose however remains the same as face to face networking: build relationships with others, create a trusted network, find new referral sources, and influence buying decisions. Social media websites are where people are flocking to search, recommend, discuss, and influence buying decisions. So you need to be there to influence their buying decision in your favor.

Traditional Marketing versus New Media
Internet Marketing doesn’t replace the need for traditional marketing activities that still do work. There are traditional marketing methods that do work such as email marketing (Yes, I call it traditional), radio, television, and yes even bill boards and direct mail.  These traditional marketing methods can complement your social media activity or vice versa.

Social Media Marketing is free but is it really?

Yes, social media websites are mostly free to use. But although the “medium” or “channel” is free, the actual activity of social media marketing is time consuming. And time spent is money spent!  It may appear free if you do it yourself but if you tweet and Facebook all day, what about the time you aren’t spending building your business?

The case for Internet Marketing for Business Owners

Internet Marketing is the new channel to gain branding, visibility, and leads. Internet Marketing is also cost-effective. Do it yourself is certainly an option even though we don't recommend it because you need to work "on" the business not "in" the business.

But also remember that Internet marketing is not the only way to market a business. It is also not a pill that will work overnight and begin generating leads for you. It requires watering in the form of content and fertilization in the form of daily interactions and engagement with others. And it will take a considerable amount of time and creativity to build the follower and fan base that will drive sales.

Internet Marketing will not replace face-to-face networking, phone conversations and other business development strategies used by most of us. However Internet Marketing provides tremendous reach and is one of the most cost-effective marketing channels available to businesses small and large. By using social networks to research prospects and identify the correct individual to contact, you may find that your business development cycle is cut down in half or more.

So whether you are selling a special widget or whether your only client is General Motors or even if you are a mortician (morbid eh?) or an accountant, social media marketing is still highly recommended for you. That’s because unless you are no longer looking for new clients, your business needs to be out there attracting attention.

Social media websites provide visibility, branding, and lead generation. Leverage them because they are the way consumers seek to engage with you, the product or service provider.

So yes, Social Media is even for you, and you, and you, no matter how specialized, localized, or vertical market focused you may be!

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Social Networking Not for You?

Companies are still not leveraging the power of social networking and the reasons include lack of understanding, lack of awareness of the power of social networking and perhaps the fear of the unknown.  Time and time again, I ask my prospects and clients "how many sales people do you have in your organization". And time and time again they give me a number that is much smaller than their company's total number of employees.  When I point out that each and every one of their employees is a "sales person", they are a bit embarrassed and also a bit perturbed as they never thought about it like that.

Companies are afraid to embrace social networking for more reasons than one. Most claim that they need to know the return on investment (ROI). This shows that their biggest reason for not embracing social networking is that they really don't understand the benefits. Companies are also afraid of employee abuse and not being able to determine who is doing what during company time.

The benefits of getting each and every employee of yours on social networks are many. Yes, there is potential for abuse too and I won't ignore that. However when employees are empowered, policies & procedures are put in place, and monitoring tools (kind of top video monitors for babies) are deployed, employee abuse can be managed appropriately.

Each employee can become a brand ambassador for your company helping build your company's brand awareness and brand visibility. By getting every employee trained on the various nuances of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks, your company will see an increase in connections & lead generation activity. And when each one of your employees engage with customers using social networks, you can build better customer loyalty and relationship.
 
Social networks become a great way for your employees to spread good PR about your company and its offerings. It also allows them to learn what's happening in the marketplace, see what your competitors are doing, and hear what the customers are saying. The fear of the unknown comes in when companies fear "negative" feedback from their customers who may choose to share their displeasure over something, on social networks. However, this is a great way to actually hear the negative feedback, offer a solution, implement a corrective course of action for the future, and turn the customer around to make him or her your biggest proponent.

And don't feel that you have to take the "each & every" recommendation to heart. It may be difficult to "train" each and every one of your employees to be a brand ambassador. There just may be a few employees whom you want to hide from prospects & customers due to lack of communication or "customer service" skills. By all means hide them for the greater good!

I believe that companies must embrace this new way of doing business or be left behind. Are you ready?

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Twitter Promoted Accounts Functionality

So on Twitter today, a new feature became visible under the "suggestions for you". Some suggested users have the word "Promoted" under their Twitter handle. Voilà, here come "Promoted Accounts", a new advertisement opportunity for Twitter users.
 

Twitter Promoted Accounts

"Suggestions for you" is a feature which suggests Twitter users whom you may not be currently following and may find "interesting".  Although how they come up with the "interesting" part is a bit of a mystery to me as some people they recommend to me, I'd never want to follow in a million years.

Twitter suggests "Promoted Accounts" based on who you follow and surmising from that list, who you may tend to follow. Twitter will recommend a promoted account if you are following other profiles that are similar but not following the user they want to promote. So if you are following many twitter users who are in Metro Detroit, you are sure to see a "Promoted Account" suggestion for another Metro Detroiter. Recommended accounts are recommended based on relevance, or so they say.

I didn't see any information about how the average Joe Smoe business owner can leverage the "Promoted Accounts" feature to promote themselves. Right now it seems only big dogs err brands get that privilege.

Perhaps Biz Stone will share that someday soon?

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Facebook for Business – Strategies for Making Social Media Marketing Work!

Ok so we know that Facebook is the most popular network and that over 500M users use it more than they collectively use Gmail, Google and Youtube. But what does that mean to you as a business owner?

How will it benefit you? The question of Social Media Marketing and ROI (return on investment) is asked of me every single time I'm talking to a prospect or even in general when I share what I do with others. My first response is a factitious "Marketing has no ROI".
However I realize that businesses need to know that their hard-earned money isn't just going down this loosy-goosy marketing strategy that has no real tangible outcome or so they think.

So I decided that this list to make Facebook work for your company/product/service is what I'm going to share with my prospects going forward:

  • Think Conversations: Social websites are about two-way, interactive dialogs and therefore your Facebook interactions must be two-way, not one-way. Try to engage people with questions that allow their responses. Share the good and the bad with your fans & followers. Even if the consumer has a negative comment or experience or is not quite in agreement with your line of thinking on a particular topic, allow those discussions to happen. That's because if you prevent them on your page, that conversation will happen elsewhere and it may be more damaging cause you can't control it.
     
  • Think Branding not SalesSocial media websites are not meant for "direct" sales. Consumers on social networks want to network with others. They know that interacting with a company profile means that they'll hear about what the company does and what they sell but they still don't want you to sell to them. By showcasing accomplishments, clients, positive news, community engagement, etc.

    Remember, we do business with people we trust. Similarly, we buy from companies who leave a favorable impression and we stop buying products from companies who are found of ethical wrong-doing. So if you as a company can engage and converse without being intrusive, when the time for buying comes, who do you think the consumer is going to think of?
     

  • Think Visibility: I tell people that "if you and I could afford it, we'd all buy billboard, television, and radio advertisement" because those are all channels designed to reach large audiences. Well, social media websites are YET ANOTHER CHANNEL. Just like radio, television, and billboards create visibility for a brand, so do social media websites because of the large numbers of people who participate. If you aren't playing on social networks, you're losing out because consumers are searching for you on social networks. And if you aren't there now, you'll need to be there soon cause guess what, your competition is already there!

Another great reason to on social media websites is to get maximum links coming into your main corporate website which helps you from an organic search engine optimization perspective.  And finally social media websites are the MOST cost effective medium to reach the MOST people, period! If a cost-per-consumer calculation were to be done, social media websites would win hands-down.

Now there are a lot of disadvantages of using social media websites for corporates too and they include distraction from day to day work, non-targeted audience reach, etc. etc. but that's to be expected. Let's take a billboard example to compare: If your ad is placed on a major freeway, is every person driving down that stretch of the highway a prospect? Similarly, every individual on Facebook may not be your target prospect but you know what, they may know someone who knows someone who can use your services. And that's the bottom-line: Networking with your trusted network – that's what social media websites offer.

Agree? Disagree? Would love to hear from you….

 

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Social Media for Small Business

As a small business owner, you are either already on social networks or planning to get there soon. You probably already have a blog even though you may not be blogging regularly and you probably went ahead and created your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles even though you don't quite know how to make use of them or can't find the necessary time to do so.

But as a business owner have you considered your goals for getting on these social platforms? Most business owners just haven't understood the reason why they need to be on social networks. They give me reasons like "I know I need to be there", "my competition is there", "my kids tell me to be there" and so on and so forth.

Most businesses don't realize that by getting on social networks, what they get is brand awareness and visibility. That's the best reason to be there. These social networks allow businesses to constantly engage with others through conversations, share product knowledge, demonstrate their products & services, and basically dialog with people whom they've never met or perhaps have no hopes of ever crossing paths with.

When you do all of the above, over the long haul, it would make sense then that people would begin to become familiar with your brand and or product /service.

Another benefit of social media websites is that it is and can be a very good lead generation tool for most businesses, but especially so for the smaller ones. When people get to know you, they will ask you about your products or services and send quote requests. Some may refer people to you. The value of social networks aiding better search engine rankings also cannot be underscored enough.
 
Small business owners should be rushing over to these networks to make the most out of them to aid them in growing branding, visibility, and leads. Money should not be the reason that you don't go social. Just like ANY OTHER business need, small business owners need to create a budget line-item and leverage social networks to grow themselves and their brand.

Those businesses that still don't get it, will realize too late that their competition has raced past them to the finish line.
 

Search Engine Marketing Blog: Why Oh Why?? (Are you “baring all” on Social Networking Websites?)

Three men were arrested recently for robbing 18 homes in the New Hampshire and getting away with $200,000 in personal property. The police didn't realize that the robberies and the three men were connected.

Finally they were able to figure out that every victim of these robberies had posted a status message on their Facebook page letting everyone now of their business or vacation travel plans. The told their fans that they were going to be out of town for several days and of course their profiles were not protected.

Although I want to say Uh, DUH!, I know that I've made that mistake once in the past by posting my family's vacation plans on Facebook. Fortunately for me at least my Facebook privacy settings prevented others from viewing my status updates and perhaps it was dumb luck that we didn't get robbed.

It is so important not to "bare all" on social networks even though it is so tempting to and done more than we all realize. From showcasing our personal likes and dislikes to giving out information that makes us a target for criminals, we all tend to make such mistakes. But just like we are vigilante about our emails and our online transactions now, it's time to wise up and start thinking "safe" when posting anything to social networks. Sometimes it's involuntary because we want to tell people how much fun we are having while on vacation but why not wait until you return home to showcase your vacation fun?

I always say, be careful what you say online. If what you say can lead to unemployment, jail or becoming a victim, don't do it.
 
P.S. Perhaps I should invent a "does it need to be said" button as a third-party app that pops up each time a user posts a status update and offer it to Facebook???