Search: Fishing in the Clickstream

VISIBILITY: Part 3 – Search

Ever heard of that old cliché, ‘you’re fishing in a bowl’? Getting that kind of predictable result would be fantastic, wouldn’t it? If I could guarantee that to my client, I would be golden and sitting on a beach somewhere preferably reading some obscure science material. But it is obviously not so easy to gain that kind of predictable traffic for your customer. It takes knowledge of the search criteria, how your audience is looking for that information and even behavior science to really map out a close target. And I mean just a close location where the ‘fish’ really are!

In my last SteamFeed post, I touched the tip of Engagement in visibility [Part 2] which is developing your 5 main channels that connects you with your audience, [5 Touch Points of Engagement: Not in ‘Likeness’ But in Diversity]. In this last step of creating visibility [Part 3], I will just graze the surface of ‘Search’ in all its conducive power but you will be surprised at the final analysis on how truly simple the perspective on search is!

Search – Where the Fish Are:

1. SEO – Search Engine Optimization has been an ongoing chess game since the beginning but much has changed leveling the field by the search engines themselves (Google being the heaviest hitter). Before Penguin (Google’s newest search algorithm) and Panda (Google’s newest content updater) came on the scene there were many more ‘tricks’ not penalized to grab that coveted top ranking spot. Now the tables have turned and even a few big reputable companies got caught in the landslide and had fallen off the rankings and hard! The new algorithms didn’t account for many reputable links and cut everyone down off the ladder. Google quickly released new updates in the wake of the backlash.

But how can you legitimately get the ranking you deserve? It’s all on generating the best, relevant content. I know that seems so simple but it is what Google is striving for. Genuine, quality site content and shareable! The engines like shareable information most but make sure it is in alignment with your content as a whole not just thrown in there for ‘shareablity’. Next is links! No longer will any site profit from link schemes by grabbing low quality links on non-relevant sites. Create links by finding strategic partners that make sense in your info arena. These backlinks can be as a contributing author on their site or by adding a resource link. Just make sure it is relevant to the site and WHERE it is linking to. If you are new to the scene check out your Page Titles and Descriptions. Optimizing them can make a big difference for a newbie on the scene (they should be optimized regardless). If you have local markets then gear your descriptions and content toward that geo-targeted area.

{That’s just a few …}

2. SMO – Social Media Optimization is the sister to SEO. These work in tandem, did you know that? Google wants them to be your team in Search. So you need to consider this as well, since Google still owns almost 70% of the market share (as of 11/30/12). How can you up the ante with your social? First take each profile for each of your social networks and optimize them based on word selection and description but keep the consistency across each network (for brand, message and voice). You can keep them segmented in how you’re engaging but for search purposes remember those consistent key ‘modifiers’ (meaningful and descriptive text in your data) across the board. As always keep them ‘relevant’ … sorry to keep throwing in that word but it is critical in search and has to be adhered to!

Then add proper tags to your blog posts for user ease. Add audio clips, video and PDFs into your posts. The engines love these especially because they are considered such shareable media. Use them where it makes sense don’t just fire out a slew of this media for search results, your audience will possibly find it a turn off. Variety is the spice of life, so without a doubt keep the variety just decide thoughtfully with search in mind. When deciding on modifiers in your posts compete where you can with long tail keywords (Type of keyword phrase that has at least three and some times as many as five words in the phrase. Long tail keywords are used when the website wants to refine search terms to the web page, as well as when the searcher is looking for something rather specific.). Sometimes selecting just a slightly different word that has the same meaning and audience usage can provide you more visibility then being the smallest fish in a very popular search word pool.

3. URLs and Hashtags – Your domain name grabs points in search so while you want it to reflect your brand and company name, you also want it to gain some search weight. So discern during this selection of URL options. The .com’s extension still rank but by adding the .co’s and some other extensions you can amplify your rankings. But again, add them with consideration to your audience in relevancy. These domains need to generate a real page with content/information that supports that URL not end up on some unsupported blind page.

Hashtags add draw in many ways and can increase your friends/followers on social network s. Instagram does a really nice job of this, as well as the originator themselves, Twitter. So take it one step further, promote these hashtags on all your other media (ex: social networks – LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. and on your blogs, websites and print). Again be thoughtful on selecting these hashtags. What would my audience be searching for? What terms would they be using and please use their terms not your own! Not sure how your audience is searching then you need to do a bit of research before just firing one out there.

4. Unstructured Content (images, video and audio) – Here you can use Alt Tags for your unstructured content media. The bots can’t read the content so it queries it differently than the text data. Don’t just put a list of keywords in even though it may seem like relevant words rather define the media with a sentence using very clear descriptive words on what the image, video or audio is about. Keywords will penalize you even though you intended it to be a genuine explanation for your audience. Keep all this material ‘shareable’ by adding plugins and already built-in options to share it on other channels. You can also make sure you ‘watermark’ (mark showing contact info of some sort) your images with your logo mark, Twitter handle, or URL. Keep this contained somewhere in the main section of the material not on the edge where it can easily be cropped out. The more viral share you get on this, the more your searchability stays intact!

5. Search Measurement Analytics – With all this research, thoughtful selection of modifiers, and relevant content work you have supplied would it make sense to not measure your results? And then what? How can you now reapply this found insight into your continued strategy? It is a must and don’t think that this part is easy. It is the hardest part but the most worthwhile. Search is an ongoing process that must constantly be refined. Also, it can become more and more specific based on the criteria you are measuring.

There is the top level view of clickstream analytics in reporting the results of how much traffic is coming in on which pages, how long they stay there and how many pages they have traveled to. Then you can move into specific IP addresses and follow purchase patterns and how the user navigated the site, where they linked to, what they were interested in and for how long. Sessionization will show you when they departed the site and when then returned. You have the ability to mine users for behaviors and social network effectiveness. Create scalable data queries that look into strictly behavior analytics. Customer patterns galore! Google Analytics does a nice job of generating decent reports and it’s free. If you are looking for more in depth analysis with some customized solutions then there are other analytics software out there from which you can choose.

In the end with the introduction of Penguin and Panda we no longer are trying to ‘beat the system’, though in effect I suppose we are always looking to get the best results. What becomes the driver is the relevancy of your content throughout every element you place on your site, your blog posts and your social networks.

Genuine content that makes complete and perfect sense to your audience is where it is at. I would love to fill this whole page up with nifty ‘tricks’ on how to circumvent that but it would help you not. Don’t we all want to provide the information that best educates, enlightens and motivates our readers to actually do something? So stop the keyword embedding you will be penalized. Write short relevant copy that describes concisely and overall use your BEST content and not manipulate the system!
… so now what? You’re ‘good-to-go’ right? Not so fast rabbit.

Continued Online Growth is next because it just “never stops” and neither should YOU!

Call To Actions Need To Result in Action

The call to action (CTA) is one of the hardest things to master when it comes to e-commerce. It’s relatively easy to design an attractive page, and you can write great content that gets people pumped. At the same time, it doesn’t matter how good everything else is if your CTA falls flat. If you are having a hard time getting people to buy your product, then use these tips for a better CTA.

call to actions

photo credit: hiddedevries via photopin cc


Make it Distinguishable

Your CTA needs to be distinguishable. Most websites are using CTA buttons so that users know exactly where to click to buy, sign up or do anything else that you need them to do. If you want people to perform an action, then make the CTA button easy to see.

For example, if you have a red website, then make the CTA button blue or yellow. It needs to contrast so that users know exactly what to click.

Use a Consistent Design

You also need to keep the design consistent throughout your website. If the CTA button looks different on each page, then users might get confused about what they need to click. Keeping the design consistent in terms of color and shape will improve the number of users that click the button. It will also keep users from getting confused.

Active Phrases

The CTA button needs to have an active phrase so that users know what to do. Many novice Webmasters write “Click Here,” but this can kill your click-through rate. You need to be more descriptive than this. It lets people know what to expect when they click the button, and an active phrase will persuade more people to buy from you.

For example, you can use “Download Now,” “Get Started,” “Sign Up Here” or “Show Me More.”

Multiple CTA Buttons

You might feel a little pushy if you put multiple CTA buttons on one page, but this can actually help you under certain conditions. If your Web page is long, then some users won’t want to scroll all the way down to find the CTA button. Some users want to buy now, but they don’t know how to go forward.

You should have at least one CTA button above the fold, and then another under a long page of text. This makes your CTA button more visible and accessible, and it should improve your click-through rate.

Use Every Page

Most users will skim through all of your pages before deciding to buy your product. The key to improving your sales online is to make the sales process easy for customers. If you add the CTA button to just one page, then some users may forget where it is. These users will just leave to find another seller.

Conclusion

Many website owners don’t know how to properly make and position their CTA, but you need to learn this quickly if you want to improve your conversion. Just use a good design that contrasts your website, make it easy to find and use active phrases. These few tips on a proper CTA should help you sell more products or services.

How do you use call to actions on your website? Please leave a comment below!

Gonna Get Me Some Action (Movie FX)!

Have you ever looked at the video that you took with your iPhone or iPad and wonder what you could do to give them that little bit of pizazz? You know, like rather than take that hum-drum Christmas dinner video that you take every year, instead take one that has aliens dropping in and blowing up the Christmas turkey. How about blowing up that beat up old car of yours with a sidewinder missile, without having to wonder how you are getting to work in the morning?

"Action movie

photo credit: openDemocracy via photopin cc

Enter Director / Producer J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Lost) and his special effects company Bad Robot Interactive, with an iPhone / iPad app that turns your hum-drum mobile device videos into epic, special-effects filled, clips of awesome! Enter Action Movies FX!

It’s Da Bomb! (plus MUCH More!)

The first time I used this app was to give my kids a giggle when they where hanging out in the backyard with the neighbour’s kids, bored on a Summer’s day (if that is possible). Standing there I narrated the lead up to dropping a giant ball of steel on all four of them. Next I had fun with a client that I had been working on a Twitter project for, by crashing an F/A-18 Fighter Jet into his SUV crossover. Each one took less than a minute to film and less than that to add the desired effect. The reaction to these videos is always the same; laughter, followed by “WOW! That is so cool!!”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA9DnUlLff4&w=560&h=315]

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxeeiJAO8EM&w=560&h=315]

What you get is a pretty straight forward app that allows you to pick the special effect you want in your video, a target on your video screen to ensure that you have the camera positioned perfect, and a few moments to render your special effects filled video clip. Just like that you can have a video that is the envy of your friends (well, at least those who don’t also have Action Movie FX). You even get some mayhem from some of the combat gadgets found in the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops 2!

It’s Fun, But Is It Business Friendly?

Was there something written in the Holy Bible of Marketing that says that you have to create videos to attract people to your business product or service with videos that are actually about your product or business? Think about this. Do major name brands pay to make a movie, or do they pay to have their product IN the movie. Use this app to have some actual fun promoting your business. Create an action filled clip for YouTube that has your product or service in the movie. It may not win you an Oscar, but it will get you noticed.

…. aaaaaaand ACTION!

 

I LOVE My Website (Part 1 of 7)

Every business owner wants to say, “I love my website!” Thankfully many do, but sadly some don’t. On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your website love?

what to love for your website

In my experience with clients, and in talking with numerous business owners, I’ve narrowed down 7 things you need to love in order to truly love your website. You need to love how it looks, love the way it works, love its ability to serve your business, love how secure it is, love using it and love how much your visitors love it. You also need to LOVE your website designer!

Part 1 – Love how it looks

Professional Design

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” -Steve Jobs. When I was choosing a name for my web design company I choose ArtSci Designs to reflect both sides of professional design.

I had some fun trying to turn it in to a dictionary definition.

ArtSci (art-see) adjective
1. the state of being in which a thing is simultaneously appealing to the visual senses and fully effective in it’s technical aspect
2
. harmonious fusion of creativity and organization
3. fun and functional
Origin: 21st Century Geek.

Here are a few things to ask yourself, or your website designer: Is my website designed to work well with all modern browsers? Are we using table-less design with well coded html and CSS styling? Does the overall design work well with the page content? This list could go on and on.

Your Company Logo

Can you picture the logos of these companies? Apple, Nike, Bank of America, UPS, Amazon, PayPal and WordPress? These companies have logos that we remember. Does your company have a memorable logo or signature graphic? Developing one is not an easy task, and if you need help with this there are some great logo design companies who can assist you.

Color Theory 101

website colour“Color is so powerful – it creates emotional impact, makes your designs more memorable and even makes a statement about what your brand stands for.” – Erin Ferree, Brand Style Design.

Whether you are simply adding colored text to an image or creating a new color scheme for your brand or website, a better understanding of color theory and the importance of color will serve you well.

Does your business “own” a color? When we think about the companies above with memorable logos, we can also envision the colors used in their branding.

I think the emotional impact that color can make is fascinating! Here is a short list of colors and feelings associated with them. We all have our favorite colors when it comes to home decor or how we dress, and it is important to consider more than personal preference when selecting business colors. You can read more about the meaning of color at the Color Wheel Pro website.

  • Red: Passion, Love, Anger
  • Orange: Energy, Happiness, Vitality
  • Yellow: Happiness, Hope, Deceit
  • Green: New Beginnings, Abundance, Nature
  • Blue: Calm, Responsible, Sadness
  • Purple: Creativity, Royalty, Wealth
  • Black: Mystery, Elegance, Evil
  • Gray: Moody, Conservative, Formality
  • White: Purity, Cleanliness, Virtue
  • Brown: Nature, Wholesomeness, Dependability
  • Tan or Beige: Conservative, Piety, Dull
  • Cream or Ivory: Calm, Elegant, Purity

A Match Made in Heaven

Have you ever known someone who was color-blind, or with little fashion sense, who just couldn’t seem to put the right colors together? The human eye seems to just “know” when certain colors look right together.

From Art 101, you may recall the color wheel. Harmonious color schemes are those where the colors are equally spaced around it. You don’t have to guess which colors to use together. There is a mathematically relationship between those that “belong together.” I think it’s really awesome how so many colors found together in nature are also a perfect match mathematically.

Thankfully, we don’t have to pull out our calculators or actually “do math” here because there are several free, fun and easy to use tools online that do the hard work for us. Many of them will help you develop a perfect color scheme from either a starter color or an image. Here are some of my favorites:

Cheri’s Short List of Online Color Tools

Images and Graphics

A webpage with some images on it is certainly more interesting to look at than one that’s simply text. If a picture is “worth a thousand words,” then we need to be sure those 1000 words are saying the right thing. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing images for your website.

  • Tone – Know when to use serious, playful or humorous ones.
  • Uniqueness – Be careful with stock images. Customize them.
  • Relevance – Make sure that your image supports your written content.
  • Audience – Choose images your website visitors can relate to.
  • Image Rights – Always check licensing information.

Sources for stock images:

Font and Typography

website typographyThe day my family came home and found me watching a movie on Netflix called “Helvetica” that I was totally enjoying was one of those days that confirmed that I really am a geek!

Earlier this year Smashing Magazine published an article called, “Typography Guidelines And References” that compiled several of their posts on this topic. If you want to learn more, I suggest reading it. Or, you could watch “Helvetica” and post a movie review!

One of the biggest things to keep in mind is not to mix and match fonts. Choose one font you will use consistently across your website. A common exception to this rule is using different fonts for page titles and headlines.

If you haven’t explored Google fonts yet, check them out! They are “easy” to add to your website and open up a whole new realm of possibility. Caution: these can take as much time playing with as the color scheme tools.

Website Love…

My goal at the end of all web design projects is for our clients to say, “Wow, Cheri, I LOVE my website!” If you aren’t feeling enough website love, we’d be glad to help you. The first step is to request a Website Checkup.

What do you love about the look of your website? Please leave a comment below!

Two reasons to get stoked and make an ebook

Happy Cyber Monday (by the way, I hope you had an amazeballs holiday weekend)! People will be buying new tablets – iPads or their mini-mes, Kindle Fires or Droids and join the growing tablet consumer base.

Ebook

photo credit: Jules Holleboom via photopin cc

You can write. We write on a daily basis in text messages, blogs, emails, Facebook and Google chats, the rare snail mail, and we write in the air when we speak or sign.

So…why don’t you write an ebook to adorn these new tablets? I suspect some of you are groaning and I feel you. But you can. There are two key reasons why business owners, community managers or website owners should consider writing an ebook. Woot! Let’s get the fire under your tush going, no?

Lead Generation

Ebooks are an effective way to get subscribers to your blog, newsletter and increase exposure. When you build a base of loyal subscribers over months and years, your chances of revenue increases (i.e. customers will be inspired to call you for consultations, buy more books in the future, or refer you to someone in their network).

Short and appealing ebooks are easily shared and saved, leading more unique vistors or repeat ones to your website. I have a folder on my desktop full of helpful ebooks at my disposal and I love it. Repeat exposure is positive. We reread books, watch our favorite movies more than once because we love them.

You can read this great how-to blog from Aweber (one of the most popular email marketing tools) to send free ebook to your subscribers. I know there are other ways to achieve the same goal for your blog, including MailChimp (free for beginners!) and I’d be tickled happy to have you share your tools and experience in the comments.

Digital Books are Smarter (and you’ll get smarter too)

TED is about ideas worth spreading and golly have I got one for you. I got to attend a TEDx event recently and one of the speakers was Dominique Raccah from Sourcebooks.  I will say I didn’t expect it to be one of the most memorable speeches. When the printing press came out, it was revolutionary. In the old days the technology enabled ideas to act as change agents and circulate in mass publications. Now, digital books are today’s most compelling change in how we interact with literature and the ideas are shared much more rapidly.  Read about a killer example from the Sourcebooks blog: Shakesperience - how the user interface improves the learning of Shakespeare.  You can include social media for sharing or links to relevant context to help the reader and enrich knowledge for all, including yourself as you write and research to prep for your author debut(s)!

Bonus: Even there is a Google analytics for ebooks – Hiptype. Sign up for their beta version!

Hold your horses…a few tips before you make an ebook:

  • Do not make it too long. Two to ten pages would be fine (but if it’s on the longer end, it should have a lot of visual breaks and comfortably sized text). People want to digest ebooks easily especially for free. Paragraphs, short sentences, quotes that take up half of the page can work. If the reader is serious about investing time and learning, they’re more likely to look for a book to purchase or read longer books and you don’t want to shoot for this the first time.
  • Eye candy. Pictures, quote bubbles and a few bold colors.
  • Ponder about the audience. What problem does your ebook solve? How will it better their lives or business?
  • Have a tweetable and epic title that makes everyone else 1) wish they had thought of it and 2) feel they’re missing out if they don’t download it.
  • Worry about the format later. Get the important stuff out. Hijack your creativity.
  • It HAS to convert to PDF before it’s universally downloadable. Open Office or Word can work just dandy!
  • Good content won’t get anywhere without design to enhance its appeal and readability. Blurb is a stunning hub for self publishers and even includes Instagram, Blog, Facebook or Wedding print books and ebooks.
  • Our own Phil Gerbyshak, a new Steamfeed member, recently came out with an ebook of his own. Check out The Naked Truth of Social Media and you’ll see why a catchy title and graphics will make you go “Oh, I’m SOLD.”
  • Write when you’re actually stoked about the topic!

Who’s excited?? I think ebooks also make a fitting New Year’s resolution…

Interview: Mallie Hart From Social Solutions Collective

The other day I had the pleasure of interviewing Mallie Hart about her new project Social Solutions Collective.

“When you work with a collective that can provide you with everything from unique graphics to ghost writing for your blog, your social media marketing isn’t just covered, it ROCKS!” -Social Solutions Collective


1. What is Social Solutions Collective and why did you start it?

Before I was invited to write for Steamfeed I was contemplating creating a collaborative group of my own. Knowing that a variety of content, discussion topics and ideas collectively drive true social engagement, it seemed silly not to build a group to make the curation and creation of this content and discussion something bigger and better. With that in mind I started sending out feelers, to gauge interest and to see if anyone else thought it was a good idea. I would not have continued with the project if I had received “WHAT WERE YOU THINKING” responses. I got some great initial feedback, cautionary and positive, from Robert Caruso and Kittie Walker – both Steamfeed members – and then from parties of interest and I decided it was something I wanted to take to the next level.

2. How did you decide who would be a part of the collective?

Great question. First I had to decide how we’d divvy up topic areas. I felt we should have one person covering a specific topic so that we could build a deeper understanding and delve deeper into specific social business topics. So, each member covers a niche. For example, with my long time spent in the graphic design trenches, it seemed quite fitting that my niche cover social design. Current members fill a wide variety of niches, anything from content curation to best practices for non-profits utilizing social media. The niches drive who gets asked to join the group. As the “owner” of the collective, I have the final say on who fills a niche, but all potential new collective members are discussed by the group before we even let them know we are interested in them. While someone has to take that final ownership role, we do try to make decisions in a collaborative and collective fashion.

3. What goals does the SSC have?

Our overriding goal, and, in fact, our tagline is “Social media and social business solutions collective intent on doing social right.” To take it a bit further, much like the crew at Steamfeed, we have seen and been disturbed by the shift and focus in social media toward a certain group of “experts” that don’t appear to walk the talk when it comes to engaging in the behaviors and actions that make social such a valuable part of business marketing and interaction. While we have no intent to point the finger at any one individual or action as “wrongdoing”, we do like to discuss what we call “less than social” practices and actions. We discuss them in a general sense, rather then throwing any individual or company under the bus. It’s equal parts education and entertainment, so I guess you could call us edutainers, though I don’t know if Grandma Mary has taken legal action to make term solely her own!

That being said, the second name in our title is “Solutions” and we have lofty goals for products, services and eLearning opportunities in 2013 and beyond. We think this blurb from our web site explains it quite well:

“While we all run our own businesses, some of us more than one, we understand that in the fast-paced, ever changing world of social media you don’t want to work with a jack of all trades, master of none. Sure, each member of our collective excels in a multitude of social situations. But, we also know we all have our “best” skills. By coming together, each of us with a different “best skill”, we can each offer real solutions that can be rolled up into one rocking package.”

4. Is the SSC a girl’s club only?

Ha ha! While it has turned out that way, that wasn’t our initial intent. If you ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you I’m not particularly interested in the “Go GIRL Power” movement. Initial salvos regarding interest in the collective were sent to an equal number of men and women. For whatever reasons, none of the men gelled or made the connection that makes our group really click. As we continued to move forward we found that our style of communication and decision making appealed to most of the women, but fewer to the men. So, it sort of turned into a group of women with the intent to discuss and share ideas in our bid to showcase social done right. Our following, which is growing in a slow and steady fashion, is a very nice mixture of men and women. We have some growth goals and plans for 2013 which we hope will continue to appeal to a wide audience. We also have an interview series planned (so it’s quite funny I’m your first interview), and we have as many males on our want list as we do females, perhaps more!

5. Is there anything else you would like the SteamFeed community to know about the SSC?

I put this question to the group members, as their opinions – both collectively and individually – matter very much. We support and help each other, as well as our fans and followers, by sharing knowledge, tools, tips and more, and by answering questions posed by the group and by those same fans and followers. Though we do work together as a collective, we each have our own unique ideas and voice, which allows us to look at every angle before we answer a question, allowing for understanding of the gray areas that are so much a part of social business. We realize there are no tried and true, this is black and this is white, solutions or answers that fit every unique social question or issue. We are a diverse group, though we are all women. We are young and not so young. Some members are new to the entrepreneur scene while others are more seasoned. We span the United States and even have a voice from Canada. So we bring unique perspective to each niche, to each question we are asked and to each idea we generate. Then we collectively turn our unique ideas and understanding into a supportive and savvy group effort or answer.

Want to learn more about the Social Solutions Collective?

Website: socialsolutionscollective.com
Facebook: https://facebook.com/SSCollective
Twitter: https://twitter.com/collectivess
Linkedin Group Discussion: SSC LinkedIn Group Discussion
Google+: http://gplus.to/SSCollective
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sscollective/

Five Facebook Fizzles You Can Fix

What’s a “Facebook Fizzle” and why should you want to fix it?

So, you’ve got a great business, enthusiasm that rocks the planet, and you make the decision to jump onto social media.  Facebook is your most frequented hangout, because you’re already there hanging out with your friends.

You make your page.  Put up a few key posts.  And you’re ready to “go viral.”

Instead?

Fizzzzzzzzle…

Facebook Fizzles

photo: WAGirlInNC

There are reasons for this.  Ready to know some of them?

Five Facebook Fizzles You Can Fix:

1. No Branded URL

When a page is first started, Facebook assigns a link, or URL, that is long and includes several letters and numbers.  It is hard to remember, and is a lot to look at!  Many Page Admins head into the wild social yonder with their good intentions and this crazy-long URL.  They’re so busy trying to accomplish brand awareness, that they forget one very easy branding opportunity.

The Fix: While it’s been rumored that some pages can begin with a custom or branded URL, for most, you can only arrange a vanity URL after you have at least 25 Likes for your page.  A number easily achieved.  Once you have those initial twenty-five, you should rush to https://www.facebook.com/username to assign and save a custom link for your brand.  Keep it as simple as possible, while reinforcing your business name.  This establishes credibility and brand recognition.  It is also easy to pass along to others.

Bonus: You can also get a vanity URL for your personal profile too!

2. Foot-Long Posts

When Facebook gave us the opportunity to use 5000 characters per post, this was good news, as sometimes there is just more than 250 characters to say.  However, in exploring Facebook, I frequently see well-meaning page owners posting their hearts out, with little or no “likes” for their posts.  Often these posts are wordy.

People are busy, and they want to be able to scan quickly and respond.  Many words does not fit in to the few seconds we have to grab fan attention.  Also remember that mobile users have a small screen and run through their news feed quickly.  So competition to reach fans is tougher here, with a consistently growing population.

The Fix: While you do have to say something great to get good response, there is also value to being clear and concise.  A study by Salesforce and Buddy Media revealed that posts with 80 characters or less get 23% more interaction.

3. Incorrect Grammar And Misspellings

Too often I see posts made with poor grammar and misspellings.  The one thing to remember when you are displaying content online is that this may be the only opportunity you get to make an impression on your audience. When people see mistakes and weak phrasings, they lose trust and often look elsewhere.

Hopefully your goal is to establish a level of trust with your Facebook community, and for them to see you as a credible source.

The Fix: Be sure the person writing and posting your Facebook content has excellent language skills and is a good speller.  Some report using Google Chrome for their automatic spell check.  If you want to be really sure, here’s a free tool that could help: http://www.gingersoftware.com/.

4. Social Greed

Are there a few individuals that post only as their brand on your page?  Others that always have a link to their own stuff in their comments?  Or, they’re all about, “Download my new Ebook,” or, “Read my book!”  How many assuming comments on our wall, or messages to our personal Inbox do we need to receive?  They are usually from a newer “friend” and go something like: “I’ve just published my new podcast, and I know you’re going to want to listen.  Please also share it with your friends/fans.”

Yikes – That’s like going on a date with an octopus!  And the quickest recipe for getting people to tune you out.  Fizzzzle…

Some are just beginning and are naive to how things really work.  This is forgiven.

The Fix: Interact on Facebook Pages as yourself – an ambassador of your business – and occasionally as your brand to instill brand awareness and recognition.  Optimally, you’ll want to frequent Pages where you can be a resource and add value to a conversation.  Share links other than your own, yet share your information when you have established some social clout with a group of people, and offering your link will not appear spammy.

Use tagging to give credit or attribute.  Appear “ungreedy” by responding to genuine tags and offering a thanks for the mention.  Even engage in the conversation.

5. Spammy Behavior

A lot of the behaviors mentioned above as “socially greedy” are considered spam.  Is your small business spamming other business brands on Facebook?

Everyone that owns a Facebook page wants people to visit it, like it, and frequent it.  But the reality is that people did not join Facebook specifically to get updates about your brand and your page.  Over-posting will result in unlikes and fans opting to hide your messages.

Are you tagged often on business flyers for their upcoming events?  Ouch – It hurts, doesn’t it?

The Inbox — Whether personal or on-page — Do you receive messages encouraging you to like pages, purchase new products, or hire people you’ve never met?  Fizzle!  Don’t you feel hit with a paint ball?

Not experiencing these things?  Maybe you’re the one doing it…?  If not, it’s only a matter of time before that tag, message or link arrives.

The Fix: Pretty much rinse and repeat the fix for Social Greed.  If you are new to Facebook, and learning social media etiquette, people understand.  It is the repetitive behavior that frustrates people.

So, The Five.

Are you ready to go out and Facebook “Fizzle Free?”

Any Fizzle-lous behaviors I missed listing above?

Please tell me your thoughts or any questions in the comments box below… :)

5 Touch Points of Engagement: Not in ‘Likeness’ But in Diversity

VISIBILITY: Part 2 – Engagement

Audience ‘engagement’ … what is the first image that comes to your mind? Is it communication, a connection, or a conversation? The actual definition is “The act of engaging or the state of being engaged.” where the word ‘engaged’ means, 1. Employed, occupied, or busy.  2. Committed, as to a cause.

Often our actual definition of a word is rather different than our perception of a word. Let’s call this a great likeness but with vast diversity in actual meaning. I find engagement in our marketing spheres very similar. We see that it is more of an interchange either by content, visual or another communication vehicle that not only connects another with the message and story but propels that individual to respond. This is the engagement I am referring to!

In my last SteamFeed post, I presented the first step [Part 1] in visibility which is developing your Web Presence [Web Presence and Visibility:  Duende “Having Soul”]. Step two of building visibility is to consider your engagement within your marketing sphere and how to effectively interact.

photo: <a href="http://engagemarketingdesign.com/">Engage Marketing Design</a>

Engagement – The 5 Touch Points:

1. Website –  Engagement on your site is creating a correspondence with your audience. Create opportunities for them by offering a two-way experience. Perhaps provide a customizing process with a product or service and allow engagement via commenting to posts or by initiating ‘likes’ or ‘dislikes’ to an idea or option. The connection with ‘likeness’ is important but contemplate drawing out the diversity in your audience. We are more unique then we are similar and while your community has similar interests that lead them to this virtual location it is really important to allow some guided self-expression in this space or better yet encourage it!

a.       Add Widgets
b.      Add Functionality for “Real Time” Engagement
c.       Games
d.      Online Product Customization

2. Social Media Networks  –  Social Media is all about engagement but often we pursue the quick fix in our connections rather than working on the long haul in building valued relationships. It is an investment in others and taking time to learn about them in all aspects of their complex lives. It is more exploratory then reactionary and if you are successful in social media you know exactly what I am referring to. The time spent behind the scenes really understanding their target audience is far greater than their time in actual conversation with them. We need to understand more about the targeted individual and the diversities which they are made up of. Focus on the criteria to help you narrow down that audience and relate with more resonance.

a.       Who is Your Audience
b.      Purpose for Engaging
c.       Tone & Perspective
d.      Offering Consistent Valuable Content

3. Mobile –  Connecting with people in ‘real time’ or while on-the-go, where you happen to be at a certain moment, is effective in your engagement marketing. Instagram and other powerful visual apps downloaded to your smartphone can share your particular activity while also adding impressionable visual data for your audience. This builds a sense of personal connection with your relationships. You can include multiple texting solutions by attaching valued quick video clips (use Android’s Movie Studio App to even apply still images with your content stream) or adding a YouTube channel link as possible solutions with your texting options. The engagement is not a list of numbers (how often and how many) but purposeful understanding of building visibility and relationships within your space while consistently and frequently providing a clear branded message surrounded by fresh content.

a.       Location based ‘check-ins’
b.      Image Sharing
c.       Audio and Video Sharing
d.      Social Media and Mobile Apps

4. Email  –  Email allows you to become even more personal in your engagement and the better you are at delivering this personal message the more desirable. Gone are the days of spam and no one ever wanted it to begin with but it was so new it was somewhat tolerated. Nothing with that hint of flavor is tolerated today. Segment your lists wisely and provide valuable and acceptable content to your recipient. Consider what might be a great follow up to a product already purchased and categorize the audience within those segments. Or discover why they have not ordered in a while by giving them an opportunity with simplistic effort to reply. Gather the info and send a follow up offer with a preferred personalized message. We are always allowing for opting in and not force sales. This can also become a great way to introduce your social networks via some very individualized and compelling email campaigns.

a.       Make it personal
b.      Segment Lists to Define Response
c.       Survey & Assess
d.      Socialize Your Email

5. Print  –  Now how did this get in here? No, it belongs here and this is why. Print is a sensory piece and we need to touch things physically to completely connect with it. Virtual is all well and good but you need a bit of the tangible to complete the circle of engagement. So be specific in your selection of print. It could be that VIP card sent after being selected as a customer hero of the month or it can be a tear card with a premium promotional offer that brings that customer into your physical retail establishment. Create stories on your print pieces and add instruction on how to download custom apps that will drive your customers further down this amazing product/service journey. Print being the conduit to their smartphones. You’re only limited by your creativity here. But keep it connected to your audience with use of color, size, shape, style and even the material it is printed on. Each one of those communicates conceptual information to the mind of your audience separately.

a.       Quick Response Codes (QR code)
b.      Invitation to Download Apps
c.       Call-To-Action Incentives (bring to store to redeem)
d.      Keep Very Sensory Oriented (fuzzy, scratch, scented, etc.)

By far this is just the tip of the iceberg in engagement and I could probably just continue to contribute posts just on this subject alone for quite some time before it became exhausted.  In effect it is a very critical one in how we market today and how people have now become accustomed to purchase.

We should be wary of this one tendency to focus on our ‘likeness’ in this engagement and I find that an obstacle in this powerful tool. Since the very nature of us is our diversities and uniqueness that make those engagements so meaningful. I would focus on building your communities with their similarities so that there are unified interests but encouraging that community to express their diversities in their response and reaction since this brings us closer to what we are truly searching for. The answers outside of ourselves, the answer that more often than not someone else can offer!

… Which then directs us to VISIBILITY: Part 3 – Search

Simple Steps to Master Your Content Strategy

Most of the time, a social marketing manager recognizes that the quality of their content is what drives traffic to their website. If you fail to have adequate and sufficient content, you will ultimately suffer in terms of revenue. When it comes time to create and distribute content, two things you need to bear in mind are marketing and creativity.

Content Road to driving trafficFrom a creativity standpoint, you need to make sure you are continually developing new material that the audience deems important and relevant. You want them to share the information with others and engage them enough to keep coming back for more. In the end, you will have built a community that is surrounded by content.

From the marketing perspective, your function is to amplify all of the content you have on your site. You want content that is capable of going viral. Regardless of whether it happens or not, you will want to distribute and create content that fosters a positive and long-term experience through content association, which will only lead to an increase in loyalty, advocacy and brand engagement.

The best thing you can do is try to remember this simple strategy: If you can add value to your online community and foster the intelligence for your brand, you will notice your business continue to grow. When it comes time to create and implement the marketing strategy you plan to use in your business, you need to master the art of the content loop. The content loop is about a lot more than just writing a blog and publishing it. To make sure you are getting the most out of your content, bear the following steps in mind:

Create

As you create content, you need to have your audience in mind. Creating a rhythm and remaining consistent are two key components of the creation phase. Make sure the information is easy to read and understand. When you write your content, it is important to remember that your presentation and packaging are important. Not only are you able to build upon your message, but you are also able to delve into your creative side.

Curate

It is important that you offer your readers content that is exciting, engaging and educational. You don’t want to give them a bunch of content that is redundant or else they will get bored and seek information elsewhere. Learn how to identify, organize and use all of the resources you are given to help keep your reader engaged and informed.

Socialize

When it comes to distribution of content, you want to make sure it is sharable, searchable, simple and social. As you go through and share your information with others, listen to what they have to say. Interacting with your audience is crucial. Based upon the information your audience gives you, tweak your content to make sure it is something that will draw more and more individuals into your site.

Analyze

Your data tells you exactly how well your content is doing. Make sure you are measuring, monitoring, modifying and moderating your content to make the necessary changes. Focus on what others have to say about your content and build a channel for feedback. Select the appropriate tools that are going to work the best for your specific needs. Refining your strategy is important to ensuring your success.

What else is necessary in a strong content strategy? Please leave a comment below!

Influence THIS! Why influence scores don’t matter for your Social Media ROI

Many social media marketers are struggling with measurement: they want to connect social media activity to the revenue they’re driving. It’s tough, though! Unless the path from social media activity is straight and direct (not the case for many sales cycles), it’s pretty hard to track successful, revenue-driving social media activity.

As a result, many of us are banking on the idea that the more eyeballs, fans, followers, RTs, Likes we get, the better the chance that someone will buy from us.  It’s the basic principle of word-of-mouth marketing: the more people out there hearing our brand’s message, especially if they hear it from an influential source, the more likely we are to sell something. We’ve become obsessed with so-called social media “influencers”: those with a large following, who can secure thousands of RTs with a single tweet and whose blog posts get shared, re-shared, and responded to in countless other posts.

Influence score EyeballHowever, those influencers are often popular not because of an ability to drive the masses to buy a product or service like your company’s, but because they’re celebrities.  Services like Klout and Kred have attempted to put a number (a social media influence score) on the degree of influence we all have in social media by tracking how many people are engaging with us or whether our posts cause a viral reaction.

None of this matters, though, if the general population isn’t your target audience.

These “influencers” may be talking to millions, but of those millions, most won’t care what your brand is or what you sell. A tweet or Facebook post from someone with a high Klout score probably won’t get you many extra sales unless that person is someone whose audience cares about the same things your company cares about. Justin Bieber might have almost 30 million Twitter followers, but 30 million teenage girls aren’t going to hop online and buy your project management software or register for your “Yoga After 60” workshop.

Klout has tried to solve this problem with the concept of +K for users on topics they deem them to be influential in, but as many users have noted, the topics Klout chooses as what you’re influential in are often wildly inaccurate (it gets some of mine right, like “online media” and “community”, but I’m hardly an expert or an influencer when it comes to “electricity” or “the Royal Wedding”). If I were trying to sell t-shirts with Prince William and Prince Kate on them, Klout might tell you I’m a natural target – which in reality, couldn’t be further from the truth.

While Klout understands that being influential about a particular topic is what really matters for marketers looking for social media ROI, their scoring system isn’t the best way to get there. For now, those scores aren’t easily translated into sales. What matters isn’t a quantifiable score determined by statistics, but rather a knowledge of what your customers and potential customers are into (determined by hand or using really smart software) and finding out who matters to them!

If you want your company or your brand to achieve real social media ROI, the key is being relevant, trustworthy, and sharing a genuine interest in the same things your potential customers do.