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The 10 Commandments of Social Media

January 29, 2013 Leave a comment

The most interesting man in the world gets a new calling.

I’ve been feeling guilty about all the changes taking place in social media without throwing in my own thoughts. Here I present the 10 commandments of social media:

1. Thou shalt have no other significant media presence than online – Sure you can throw a few bucks to placate your ad rep, but know real tracking, real engagement and real results are happening online.

2. Thou shalt not communicate drunk – Don’t tweet, blog or Facebook drunk. There will be fewer faux pas and you won’t be slizzerd to your next meeting, update or post.

3. Thou shalt be transparent – Real engagement takes place when people feel a real connection. Faking reality won’t get you anywhere.

4. Thou shalt obey thy client – Never forget your client knows their product, their service and their client better than you. Embrace it as an advantage. Don’t discredit your client.

5. Thou shalt remain professional and not steal successful campaigns – Copy, borrow and perform homages to successful campaigns you didn’t pull off, but to your own self be true. Don’t be derivative…unless it’s clever in a way the world has never seen before!

6. Thou shalt remain on topic – If you’re talking about your client, then talk about them! Not your other clients, not you, not your beefs with the world…

7. Thou shalt not cross promote clients – If client Y is paying you to talk about client Y, why are you actually talking about client Z, temp project B and pet cause J? Unless you have specific permission from all interests mentioned to cross promote, keep things as you contracted. Talk about client Y and Y related subjects on their channel. Form a separate campaign for client Z. Find the proper alliances for temp project B and leave pet cause J to the proper channels.

8. Thou shalt not disparage competitors – Your client may be the greatest iteration of sliced bread since, well, the first iteration of sliced bread, but social media is not the medium to put down chunked bread or torn bread or pre-chewed bread. All are worthy competitors to your client. Let your client’s audience form their own opinion.

9. Thou shalt not lie…about your client – If your client wants to lie about themselves, let that be on them. You’re the social media expert! Lying is not part of your game, or is it? The simple truth is situations thrown into the light will develop their own answers. You can not lie with social media…for long. So don’t do it.

Eventually, you will be found out. That’s what I teach anyway. Hiding things in this age only invites closer scrutiny. My biggest fear is the person that exposes all for a temporary sense of freedom and release.

10. Thou shalt schedule posts for your day off. – I worked retail for many years. One of the best lessons I learned was that of delegation. With social media, it may seem a day off isn’t possible. I suggest delegating to technology what we have to work for now and that is providing content.

Tools like HootSuite and Twitter allow users to schedule posts in advance or retweet other good content that can be made to show up on a blog. If you want to get real creative with syndicating content, use the Posterous bookmarklet to add a comment to an article you’re reading and then publish the quote of the story and your comment to your site as a new post! Posterous even provides a link back to the original source.

I’m sure this is not an all-inclusive list, but it’s certainly a start. Please leave your suggestions in the comments.

Black Hat SEO Will Cost You

February 25, 2011 2 comments

It’s not often that SEO makes the news. However, in the last two weeks, SEO has been a big topic in several mainstream media publications.

Two weeks ago the New York Times wrote how JC Penney used scammy link building to craft a successful online holiday shopping season. When the reporter contacted Google about the tactic, the top rankings disappeared.

Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal wrote how Overstock.com paid college students for inbound links to their site in another questionable SEO campaign.

Finally, today Google announced it was changing the way its search algorithm works in an attempt to delist “content farms.”

What is important about this recent news about SEO? It’s a clear message to the spammers and scammers of the online world black hat SEO tactics won’t be tolerated. The fact the SEO industry even has a recognized “black hat” category is quite telling. There are rogue operators in any industry, but they keep a low profile and operate in the shadows to avoid detection. Black hat SEOs like to brag.

If you hire a black hat SEO, you may benefit for a while, but eventually you will pay…maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon and for the rest of your domain’s life. It worked for JC Penney during a crucial time -

Kate Coultas, a company spokeswoman, wrote to a reporter in January, “Internet sales through jcp.com posted strong growth in December, with significant increases in traffic and orders for the key holiday shopping periods of the week after Thanksgiving and the week before Christmas.”

Today Penney’s has lost significant position on its ill-gotten rankings.

The situation with Overstock.com wasn’t as blatant as JC Penney’s. Rather than buying links from the dregs of the online world, they offered a discount to people who would link to them. These were namely tech savvy college students who blogged from high authority .edu domains. The end result was the same…a significant drop in search rankings for top keywords.

Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon…

These high-profile cases beg the question, “Are paid links legal in the search algorithms?” The answer is no. Google’s search algorithm won’t consider paid links. The only legal paid links are those that have a “nofollow” tag or those that go to an interstitial page that has the robots.txt file blocked.

Penneys and Overstock haven’t been banned, they’ve simply had the “link juice” or Page Rank removed from their links. The results have been devastating.

Content farms are another concept altogether. They involve low quality articles written purely to attract the attention of search engines and gain rankings. Human visitors to these sites are typically bombarded with an array of ads and the site owners hope to gain advertising income. The largest organized creator of such content recently had an IPO worth millions of dollars. Google has decided to change how these sites are ranked.

The aftermath for these companies is up in the air. JC Penney fired its SEO consulting company and blamed the entire fiasco on them. The Overstock situation is still playing out and Demand Media claims their rankings haven’t been affected.

Perhaps the better question relies on strategy. Was JC Penney duped by an SEO company? They’re in a tough position; either admit they went black hat on purpose (it was effective after all) or claim ignorance (something a multi-billion dollar company should never do.

Overstock obviously adopted a grayer hat approach, but still knew their tactic was wrong and could have consequences. Paid links that pass Page Rank are never legal. NEVER.  Demand Media and its ilk also chose the path they went down. The search engines allowed it. Now they don’t. Adapt or become extinct.

My policy has always been white hat. Over the years I’ve been passed by temporarily by black hat tactics or black hat SEOs only to find out later their results didn’t work long-term. I don’t worry about algorithm changes, because I produce good content. I’m not in business to test the gray/black line. I’m here to create good content and get good, lasting rankings for myself and my clients.

How do you choose a good SEO?

Ask them. Ask their clients. Ask their former clients. Find out what their link building strategy is. While certain tactics may be proprietary, it’s easy enough to find out where inbound links are coming from by searching for an inbound link checker.

Online marketing is now about transparency. Anything underhanded, shady or gray will be found out. There is no shortcut to creating good content. Outsourcing your content generation to countries where English isn’t their first language is not an effective strategy. The same applies if you’re creating content for a non-English website.

Bottom line: Black hat SEO isn’t good strategy. Your site’s search results will pay and pay dearly.

Change – Sometimes Waiting is a Good Thing…

June 3, 2010 6 comments

It’s been a while since I’ve “updated” this blog with a real article.  It’s not from a lack of trying.  I have two drafts sitting in queue that I never published and in the light of day, don’t know if they’re worth publishing.

Part of the reason is I’ve had to make a few reassessments on strategy and because there is so much reliance on third parties (Facebook) that seem to be reversing course as quickly as a feather in a hurricane, it’s actually been worthwhile to step back and watch.

This is not to say I haven’t been active or working.  Nor is the blog stagnant.  Anyone who follows the Twitter feed that posts on the right side knows it keeps moving.  So do the images.  In real life, I’ve been speaking regularly on Fridays and had two big events I presented at in May.

At one of them I actually said if I were starting this blog today, I wouldn’t do it.  I’d work more on my Facebook fan page than a blog.

Heresy!  I know.

Here’s what’s changed.

1.  Facebook “like” becoming ubiquitous.  This is a game changing development.  While it has created a privacy backlash, what it does is allow easy sharing of things like-minded (friends) people, well…like.  I compare it to watching Superbowl commercials during the big game.  Everybody looks forward to it.  If you were only shown commercials that interested you, wouldn’t you watch more of them?  That’s the like button.  It’s word of mouth on steroids and I recommend everybody install the button on their website.

The average Facebook user has 130 friends, so instead of speaking to one person with your message on a website, email or blog, you can speak to more by using Facebook.  On average, I see somewhere between 120 to 160 people on this blog.  If I published on Facebook, with the number of “fans” I currently have, I have a reach of 13,000.  It’s a multiplier effect.

Besides, pulling in the RSS feed of this blog to my Facebook page, each article is pulled into the “notes” feed which creates a separate, search engine optimized page, plus the multiplier effect.  I’ll let you know how this goes, but I suspect it will go quite well.

2.  Curating information is almost as important as creating information.  One of the really great things I got to do last week was meet in real life one of my online mentors Pat Kitano.  We both spoke at REbar Camp SLC and wound up sharing the stage all afternoon.

Pat has a great project he’s working on regarding local, breaking news.  He creates blogs that are essentially completely automated that develop an audience and search engine rankings in a very short time.  The site owner doesn’t have to do anything to keep it running and Pat has some great ideas on how to monetize them.  Meanwhile, the site owner, typically a real estate agent, gains great credibility because the sites are so informative and relevant on a local level.

A few months ago, Pat made a prescient observation about Facebook fan pages.  I’ve been playing around with FBML and really took his post to heart.  He said that within a year, stores would be putting their weekly circulars on Facebook.  That prediction inspired this page which I created using existing graphics or RSS feeds.  With the graphics, I have to manually update, which I’ve stopped doing.  I’ll soon dump those vendors or convince them to convert to RSS.  For Smith’s and Fresh Market, the feeds update automatically.  With Smith’s, the feed even sends an update automatically to Facebook when it updates.  I don’t have to do a thing.  I’m supplying great information that every local person should be interested in.  We all have to eat, don’t we?

3.  Automating social media in a meaningful way is actually possible.  At the same time Pat was presenting his breaking news idea, I was actually testing another idea that utilizes Google alerts.  By tying keyword sensitive alerts to my Twitter account, over the last 12 days, I’ve been able to automate my Twitter updates with useful information and gain new followers, i.e. build my audience.

I can actually create a second Twitter account that will update to a Facebook page with a lower frequency to match that platform.  The end result is I have an automatically updated social platform that people like and value.  I actually get more followers and retweets from this method than painstakingly creating and promoting my own content.  Of course I mix in my foursquare updates and personal content to create my own personal and authentic “voice.”

In the mean time, I’ve been anxiously waiting, but I still get to “update” this blog through Twitter and I update my fan page on a daily basis too.  You don’t have to “be everywhere,” but you need to be where the people are.

I love writing original content, but in a regular week when I’m finding content, posting it and creating in person live content, the ability to automate part of it is extremely valuable.  The fact that it’s shared and increases my audience is further proof of its’ worth.

Speaking of automation, Pat shared a semi-automated way to blog that I’m going to try out.  Until then, it will be slow, but steady….

How to Create an Online Radio Show

February 10, 2010 1 comment

Step 1 – Find a co-host.  Thanks Janet!

Step 2 – Brainstorm domain names and purchase it.  Thanks GoDaddy!

Step 3 – Find a web host.  Thanks Brian!

Step 4 – Design the site.  Thanks WordPress!

Step 5 – Find a radio hosting platform.  Thanks Talkshoe!

Step 6 – Find an audience.  Thank YOU!

Web Marketing Weekly Show starts today at 2 pm MST.

Utah SEO Presentation – Article Marketing

January 20, 2010 2 comments

Article Marketing Class

January 17, 2010 1 comment

I’ll be teaching a class on article marketing this Tuesday at BetaLoft in downtown Salt Lake at 2 pm.  It’s free to attend, but space is limited.  If you’re interested, please RSVP on Meetup.com or Facebook.

Here’s what you can expect to learn:

The “what,” “why” and “how” of article marketing.

Topics covered include:

How to title articles for maximum impact.
Which article submission sites to use.
Is there a duplicate content penalty?
The quandry of quality vs. quantity.
How to write interesting articles that will get published through syndication.

Plus much more. Don’t miss it!

For those that can’t attend, I’ll publish the Powerpoint afterwords.
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Too Busy to Blog?

November 15, 2009 1 comment

too busyBusiness is really taking off, so I won’t be able to blog as much as I’ve been doing.  I’ve noticed a few articles were lacking the quality and analysis I prefer.

This doesn’t mean I won’t be blogging any more, I just won’t be blogging as frequently.  Instead of producing at least one good article a day, I’m going to have to scale that back to three to five per week.

Besides this blog, I finally published my SEO website.  I’ve been thinking about that for a while and finally got through with version 1.0.  Let me know what you think.  I do believe I’m going to create a “blog” page on it that will have the RSS feed from this site automatically import.

I’m going to change this site up a little now that I have a company website, so it will be a bit more interactive.

I did a video interview with Spencer Shaw this past week and he’s uploaded it to Viddler.  Let me know what you think of my SEO tips and tricks.  The video is twenty minutes long.

A lot of meetings are planned this week to get in front of people, both potential customers and referral sources.  That’s another challenge I have with blogging.  Analog marketing is taking more time and I need to stay balanced so I can perform fabulous follow up.  I also need time to work on client projects as well.

If you’re interested in seeing me in person, I’ll be teaching a class this Thursday at 12:30 p.m. at Murray City library on blogging for traffic.  Please RSVP on Meetup.com so the organizer knows if there will be extra attendees.

Blogging is great and I love doing it, but other opportunities and obligations are restricting my time.  This is definitely a good thing.  Plan on three to five new articles each week and don’t forget there are nearly 100 old articles on this site right now for your enjoyment.

Sample SEO Article

October 29, 2009 Leave a comment

sample seo articleSo much of what goes into article writing is either spammy, boring or written by people who don’t know their subject matter.  Article marketing is a very smart way to perform search engine optimization, but so much of it is so bad it really gives article marketers a bad name.

Here’s a sample I did for a client.  Let me know what you think.

Temporary is the New Face of the American Worker

For most of the last two decades of the 20th Century, American workers were warned their lives were about to change.  The days of working for the same company for 40 years and then retiring with pensions and benefits were gone.  Today we’re seeing those prophecies fulfilled.  Consider this quote given by Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor

It seems as if every conference I attend on the subject of American competitiveness (and there are many — the competitiveness industry is surely one of America’s most competitive) begins or ends with a speech by a prominent chief executive of a large American corporation about business’s stake in improving the quality of the American work force… At the start, an upbeat assessment of the current state of American industry coupled with grim warnings about foreign competitors who are gaining ground. This is followed by an assertion about the importance of the American work force to American competitiveness in the future, why skilled and educated workers are crucial, why companies have more and more need for brainpower instead of brawn, and so forth.

Looking back in the history of the past twenty years, there are several times we could attribute his comment to; the late nineties, the 2001 recession and even today.  It was actually written 19 years ago.

I find it very interesting to see certain events that will most certainly be the subject of historical textbooks (or whatever they’re using then) play out in real time.  The transformation is one of those events and we’ve had warning about it for several decades.

Like the Industrial revolution of the nineteenth century that led to a time period of manufacturing dominance, another commercial revolution is taking place.  This is the information revolution and like any great change, it’s facing significant resistance.

In the past two and a half decades, this shift has taken us from the older industrial model to a new economic paradigm, where knowledge, innovation, and creativity are key. At the cutting edge of this shift is the creative sector of the economy: science and technology, art and design, culture and entertainment, and the knowledge-based professions.

This economic shift is creating a new type of employee; one that is educated, adaptable and more and more temporary.  By temporary, I mean a worker who may be in a position with a particular company for six months to two years.  While staying in the same industry, they may find the signer of their paycheck could come from three, four even five different employers in a ten-year period.

We call these types of employees temporary, but wouldn’t dynamic, flexible and adaptable also be accurate descriptions?  Welcome to the 21st century of business where extreme competition leads to extreme solutions.

In the past, temporary employee created an image of a secretary, labor or food service worker.  In today’s economy temporary means contract or consultant and almost every industry employs such people for jobs as varied as information technology, medical and direct sales.

Historically, seasonal jobs seemed to create more temporary workers.  In today’s economy with technology driving innovative new products and services in shorter and shorter business cycles, specialized direct sales companies can manage various sales sources with an expertise that is mercenary in nature.  It’s also highly effective.

Consider MarketStar, a world-wide sales and marketing specialist that employs thousands of flexible employees in its direct sales force.  Due to the dynamic nature of their employment, its not surprising MarketStar’s clients occupy the consumer electronics space where product life cycles are short and competition is fierce.

Their client list reads like a who’s who of amazing technology:

Sony Ericcson
Research in Motion (RIM)
Cisco
LG and HP

Those are just a few of the companies utilizing an outsourced (specialized) sales force through MarketStar.  The beauty of using business process outsourcing (BPO) is it’s seamless.  With proper sales training, the end customer will never know their salesperson wasn’t a permanent company employee no matter what the sales channel was: direct, value added reseller (VAR) or retail.

Of course, a successful sales outsourcing company has to manage its clients and its employees.  By providing up to date training, benefits, flexible schedules and the stability of a large company, MarketStar is able to attract the best and the brightest as its direct sales reps.

MarketStar is just one example of a business that is miles ahead of its competitors by offering talented and motivated staff in America’s new economy.

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Thinking out Loud

October 10, 2009 Leave a comment

thinking out loudThis is just a quick little post to discuss some things that are floating around in my head.  I’ve got a couple great ideas for post subjects, I just haven’t had time to sit down and put them all together.

This week I promise.

Timing and Traffic

I’m wondering why Friday’s are such a slow day for this site.  I’ve managed enough websites that I know each one has its “slow” day or days.  For business sites that’s typically the weekends.  Entertainment sites I’ve managed pick up on the weekends.  For this site, it’s Fridays.  It’s just such a huge drop off and I don’t know why.

Should I even make fresh posts on Fridays?  I guess that’s the question blog authors that aren’t getting any traffic ask.  Why write for nobody?  The answer is you may not be writing for anybody today, but you will be writing for someone in the future.

When I wrote my web copywriting article, it immediately got ranked on Google, but then quickly faded.  Now it’s my most popular page, but I wrote it over a month ago.  So I guess I’ll keep writing on Fridays.  You never know what will become popular.

What do you want to know about social media?

I’ve been selected to write an upcoming article in Utah Pulse for the Social Media Minute.  What should I write about?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Sidewiki?  Let me know if you have a burning question and I’ll come up with the answer.

How your visitors see your site.

I had my site reviewed this week by a member over at Bloggeries.  She liked the site, but wrote

My only complaint is that I couldn’t find a way to follow you through Facebook, Networked blogs or google friend (my favorite ways to follow). I am following via twitter.

My link to Twitter is about 12 pixels away from my link to Facebook.  But the Facebook link is text, not a graphic.  This is good feedback.  I now have some cool graphic links for social media at the top right side of the site.  Did I remove the text links?  No.  Some people will see those, while others will see the graphics.  I’ll let you know how well this works out.

Upcoming posts

Tomorrow we’ll have the weekly carnival recap.  I know of four carnivals I got published in this week.  There might be more.  Sometime in the coming week, I’ll take you on a Facebook phishing expedition.  And I’ll talk about some reputation management.

Thanks for listening to me think out loud.  Feel free to leave a comment or question.

Posterous – Another Tool for Bloggers

October 2, 2009 11 comments

Kids Gardening tool setIt’s fascinating how a thought or idea can enter our consciousness, yet it takes repeat mentions to cause any action.

Consider my introduction to Posterous, a new publishing tool/data aggregator.

I was introduced to it by a new member of my Facebook business page.  When I saw her blog link I wondered, what’s Posterous?  I even looked at her site to see if it looked “funny.”  It didn’t.  It looked just like a regular blog.

I didn’t think much of it again until a few days later I saw media maven Pat Kitano publish a slideshow on the software.  When Pat posts, I read.  Pat’s take on the software is it’s an easy way to aggregate content for a blog that’s suffering from a lack of content.  The software formats an existing article and provides a link back to the original source.  It’s kind of like an article share on Facebook, except it goes on your blog.  One can also use it to create original content.

That’s how Utah top blogger nominee Paul Allen uses it, along with his regular software.  It was also this third exposure that made me think, “I really need to write about this.”  So here we are.

The Posterous website says all you have to do is email the content and they’ll do the rest.  Well, I haven’t tried it yet, but I know someone who has.

Renee Harris is using Posterous for her small business blog – MadeOn Hard Lotion and I asked her what it was like:

Pro’s for Posterous:

* You can write your blog from your email and it will post directly to your blog (never blogged before so I don’t know – common?)

* Apparently you can blog directly to your Facebook and other accounts by adding “Facebook” or other language to your addressee box, but I haven’t tried that yet

* Clutter-free interface

* Questions you email get answered by Sachin Agarwal (co-founder) within a day (this was my experience twice)

* Very easy to attach wav files, photos or video and then edit the post to place the attachments exactly where you want them in your blog

Cons:

* they don’t allow javascript on the site (so I can add a “join my fanclub” badge but can’t put a button which automatically has someone join my Facebook fan club when they click it)

* if you want to go back and add a photo to an earlier post, I haven’t been able to figure out how, except to email it again with the attachment, and then change the date back to the original

Thanks for the feedback Renee!

Posterous sounds like it could be a great tool for bloggers, making it easier for prolific bloggers and to generate content for those who don’t publish as much.

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