Archive for Business

Blood from a stone II – Discovering the ROI within your social media campaign – The ROI of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Posted in Media, social media, Twitter with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2009 by mediapirate

Another way that social media can truly impact your bottom line is in terms of your SEO. To be honest, these days it’s pretty difficult and considerably more costly to manage an effective SEO campaign without utilizing social media. Social media’s power to drive SEO is actually quite incredible, and properly utilized it can assist you in minimizing your overall PPC (Pay Per Click) maximizing your organic search while building overall traffic and reach.

Social media allows you to build an incredibly strong organic search structure built on a foundation of community development. So how can social media strengthen your SEO campaign while saving you money?

Brand Engagement
Building a community around your brand is one of the best things that you can do in terms of strong SEO. By developing and nurturing a community you increase your chances for discussion and the potential of brand advocacy. This means the potential for independent reviews increasing the inbound links and dynamic content (discussed in the next points) while reaching an audience that you possibly never had access to before. The conversion of even one brand advocate can be of significant value in terms of raising your search engine ranking. Your online community build is simply the key to top rankings in the long term.

Inbound linking
As any SEO professional will tell you, inbound links (Coming from professional and related sites, i.e. good neighbors) are a great way to boost your overall search rankings. Social media can yet again help you in this regard. By linking back to your own sites from your profile and getting your social media audience to broadcast these links within their stream you not only gain immediate traffic but you develop a very strong foundation of inbound links. Granted, the nofollow tags on sites such as Flickr and Twitter can minimize the overall link value but I believe the value is still passed at a lower value. So while nofollow makes it possible to debate the link value these links do get put into Google and Yahoo’s backlink checker and nofollow still allows spiders to cache and index them. An additional way to build a strong backlink structure is by publishing RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds from your social media sites and submitting them to aggregators such as Ping-O-Matic and Technorati.

Dynamic Content
Social media portals such as blogs and microblogs allow you the potential to provide dynamic, ever changing, keyword dense content for the search engines to index. Providing relevant and keyword dense content to the search engines on a regular basis is a great way to make it to the top of SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages). The more independent portals that house this content and link back to your website the better. Just make sure you have the resources to manage and update these portals.

Traffic Generation
At the mere click of a button (Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, etc.) you have the potential to send thousands of interested potential clients to your site or blog. If you’ve written some great content there are really good odds that by the next day you will have a decent stream of targeted traffic as well new inbound links. You really can’t pay for that sort of immediate response. A subscriber based service such as Twitter or Plurk can also be used to drive effective and targeted traffic but careful attention must be paid to avoid spamming your followers. RSS feeds are particularly useful as they are subscriber based and the XML code is very indexable by search engines.

So while SEO may not directly convert to a specific dollar figure it does bring the traffic to your door and opens up the opportunity. Social media just allows you to target your audience more precisely, engage them immediately, allow them to help you do the work of building your online brand and gauge how your money is working for you. Can you really say that about your PPC campaign?

Please feel free to ask me any questions. I would love to hear from you.

Join me next time for: Blood from a stone III – Discovering the ROI within your social media campaign – The ROI of Online Reputation Management

The Real Questions Behind Social Media In Business

Posted in Media, social media, Twitter with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 1, 2008 by mediapirate

So what is this social media thing all about? Do I get a blog started, or maybe chat with people about nothing on strangely named applications like twurk or plitter (Yes, I realize that’s not what they are called)? Can I make money with social media? Will my business look unprofessional in the context of social media?

The answer isn’t as straight-forward or as simple as “yes” or “no” but it’s not as complex as we seem to make it either. We have just been asking the wrong question the whole time. While I do appreciate that blogs are read by a large percentage of people and twitter is growing at a record pace it’s about more than these simple stats. Here is the magic questions…..dun dun dun….Can this fit into my companies existing marketing strategy? Do I really know how to use social media? Does my target market exist on these platforms?

So it’s really not a question of the tools. It’s a question of strategy and implementation. So without knowing your marketing strategy or your target here are a few tips to help you avoid the old school interuption marketing approach within social media.

1) This is an important one: Follow all valid followers. I’ve said it a million times but I always get questioned on this. Social media isn’t social unless it’s a two way conversation. This isn’t advertising on TV, print or radio you need to listen even more than you talk.

Once you have followed all of these people how do you manage them and interact with them? This can be tricky because the more people that you have following you the harder it is to keep that personal touch, but it just requires a different perspective on the situation. Look at your social media following like it’s a party. While you can’t be involved in all conversations make sure you respond to the people talking directly to you within a fairly short period of time and engage in interesting conversations that occur.

2) Don’t use auto follow and more importantly don’t use auto follow with a sales pitch attached. This is another form of interruption marketing that might sound like a good idea but in a social media context it will not typically be received well. Social media is all about the conversation so if it isn’t something you would say to someone you’ve just met in a social situation then don’t say it here. Build your relationships and listen to what people need. Once they learn what you do they will be more than happy making use of your services and passing out references.

3) Use a picture of yourself. Sure, you may work for the biggest company in the world but social media is about the connection between individuals. Seeing a face will allow your audience to get to know you on a completely different level while building your own personal brand. An amazing example of this is Frank (@ComcastCares on twitter). Frank has changed many peoples views on Comcast as a company including mine but we all know him as Frank. If he was just a number within the company we wouldn’t have the faith in him we do.

4) Allow people to opt out. You can’t hold people hostage to your subscription services. Respecting peoples space is very important. I have seen numerous situations where followers have tried to unsubscribe to services for one reason or another and were unable to. This hurts your credibility and can cause followers to share negative opinions of you online which of course isn’t a great idea in terms of reputation management.

5) Don’t remove yourself from the conversation. Allow people to comment on your blog entries and media portals such as Facebook and Myspace. By disabling comments to protect yourself from outside opinions you remove yourself from the conversation. This means any chance of building advocacy or reputation management is lost. People will still share their opinions but now they will be forced to do so outside of your environment resulting in even less control. Address negative posts and thank the positive. Remember, sometimes losing control to a degree is the best way to maintain control.

Please let me know your questions and thoughts. Social media is ever evolving opportunity so jump into the conversation and maybe we can all learn something.

For more cool social media and business awesomeness check out Above the Buzz

Thanks,
Scott

Expectations Where You Least Expect Them

Posted in Customer Service with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2008 by mediapirate

A few days ago I was having a bad day. Not a horrible day or anything but one of those days where a lot of little things pile up on the fact that you were exhausted in the first place and everything drives you a little crazy. In the midst of this my girlfriend and I decided to grab a quick snack. Not in the mood for anything in particular we went to Applebees.

Our server Aaron brought us our drinks and we ordered some apps. About 10 min later Aaron returns with the news that they have a deep-fryer down so our food may take some time. The food did take a little longer than we expected, but when it arrived it wasn’t the food we ordered. As we were a little pressed for time I could just feel this adding up to become the proverbial straw breaking the camels back in my day. I called Aaron over and mentioned the issue with our order. And then it happened…

Good customer service!

It’s actually been a long time since I have witnessed this amazing phenomenon. People who care enough about their business to actually help the customers that support it.

Aaron disappeared into the back and within minutes a manager by the name of Brett appeared with our corrected order and his apologies for the confusion. Before leaving he then told another staff member to bring us a couple of complimentary mini-bacon cheeseburgers as well. I think I was actually in shock. I didn’t even complain and I had a managers attention. I felt my day taking a turn for the better.

Our mini-bacon cheeseburgers arrived and with them another manager named Casey. He apologized for the complications and delay in our order and asked if we needed anything else. We thanked him for the good customer service, finished our meal, paid, tipped, and left the restaurant. It was when we left that I noticed it though. My day had become better. My stresses were lighter on my shoulders and I felt as if it was a new start on my almost completed day.

This is what a good customer service experience is truly all about. Now can you imagine if every place you visited had this respect for you. We would all have a little less stress in our days and a little more reason to smile. It really puts it into perspective for me. I may not always get to choose who I do business with, but I do know who deserves my business, and all it cost Applebees was a little time with their customer and maybe a buck or two if even that for the mini-burgers.

So if you are ever in Fargo ND and feel like a bite to eat, stop in to the Applebees just off 13th Ave S. and maybe your expectations for customer service will become just a little more than you ordered.

A Reason to Return

Posted in Media with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2008 by mediapirate

Everyday I talk to clients or potential clients about their online presence and everyday I have to review the analytics with them. While garnering new traffic is great, a lot of companies pay very little attention to encouraging them to come back?

What you need to ask yourself is why “you” return to a site? Either it contains a product you require more than once or it engages and interacts with you.

The crucial element is content, and what I mean by content is valid useful information that focuses on the needs of the end user. This is why we come back. It’s for all of those neat self gratifying elements that can affect even the smallest component of the users day. The downloadable recipes and the timely weather reports before a picnic. It’s really not about how your company started or how long you have been around. While this is useful information to determine the validity of your company and showcase a strong foundation it’s just not going to make someone return to your site.

So while it’s “your” site and “your” image make sure to think about the people who you want to visit your site and what they want. If you only pay attention to what you want, you may find the internet a very lonely place indeed!

– Scott

Is Bestbuy really the best buy?

Posted in Customer Service with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 16, 2008 by mediapirate

I know that this is a little off my regular topics but I have recently purchased a plasma TV from Bestbuy (Actually the Minnetonka MN location). I was very excited to say the least, as I have never owned a large flat panel TV before. So I went to Bestbuy as they seemed to have the best selection in the area, and talked to a salesman. He seemed to know his stuff and assured me that it had all of the features that I wanted and would even give me a deal on it. So I was very happy and arranged for a larger vehicle (as I own a very small car) and brought it home.

A couple of days later I went to hook this up to my computer and discovered that the salesman had apparently made a mistake and it doesn’t have the connection that hooks up to the computer. I had specifically told the salesperson that I wanted to use this TV for this purpose before I purchased, so I was a little disgruntled. I called the store and explained my situation and all they told me was that I could get a TV that had these features (The ones I thought I had already purchased) for an extra $200 and I would have to repackage the TV bring it back and go pick up the new one. I explained that I had to borrow a vehicle for the first one and as I just moved here and really don’t know anyone moving it by myself would be next to impossible. Then I asked why I had to pay an extra $200 to get the TV I thought I had at home. They responded with the statement “People do make mistakes you know!” and still insisted that it was my responsibility to bring this back.

I guess my questions are: Why are we paying for a companies lack of product education? Why do our lives become inconvenienced because of this lack of education? and when did good customer service end up replaced by effective crisis control that lets you nowhere near any management?

Anyway, now that I have finished my rant on Bestbuy check out Twitter. It’s a cool social networking tool that allows you to contact your end readers through cell phone. Check out the new mediapirate twitter account at http://twitter.com/mediapirate and sign up to get mediapirate updates.

– Scott