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Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

I was reminded  of Sally Field’s Oscar acceptance speech while I was looking into some Facebook marketing ideas the other day. The question on everyone’s mind when trying to apply Facebook to their Internet Marketing is “Will they like me?”. It’s really the wrong question to ask. What businesses should be asking is “Do they really like me?”.

Reveal Pages and Tabs with one-step or two-step actions are all the rage when integrating your FB business into your total business marketing. Like us and win something, or get special access to somewhere, or more often than not get an opportunity to get tons of meaningless social communications. When the goal is simply to get people to Like you on Facebook, the result is often as fulfilling as getting someone to like you at a party or bar; might feel good for the moment but the likelihood of a long-lasting relationship is slim.

Listen up folks: there is no magic bullet for marketing. If you are in it, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul. You didn’t build your brick and mortar business overnight, and you didn’t make your most trusted friendships in a day either. There is no reason to think that a quickie Like on Facebook will have any more resonance than an old-fashioned quickie. We all like to be liked, but we need to be loved to gain from our relationships.

Selling is about sales, but business marketing is about building relationships. Don’t ever confuse the two. As any good salesperson will tell you (and if they’re really good, they’ll tell you over and over again), you have to gain your customer’s trust after you get them to like you. You might get the one-off sale on “like” alone, but you won’t get the repeat customers that businesses strive for.

So if you’re planning something social that has the schedule of a fruit fly’s lifespan in order to gain new business through Facebook, be ready to have a lot of one-night stands. It might be satisfying enough to get you through each day, but don’t expect romance.

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Facebook wants to you to keep it crisp and tight. At least that’s the latest rumors to be found at http://www.allfacebook.com/90-characters-2012-02, where it states that the folks at FB wants to keep ads to a 90-character limit. Shorter ads, more ads per page. More ads per page, more revenue streams.

Makes sense but opens up a can of worms for those still struggling to make do with the paltry 135 characters currently available. <- that by the way was 130 characters.

Creativity is the word of the day. Messaging with less elocution. The trend for language throughout the world of the web continues the downward spiral; from 175 characters ads in sponsored advertising (like Google AdWords), to 140 for Tweets, and now this current predicted truncation on Facebook.

Not that this is all too new – those familiar with high-cost real estate or sex partner advertising in newspapers are long familiar with the creative process of abbreviated messaging. Care for a 2/1/1 DA ez comm 825sf bsf only? But with those shortened code messages comes the requirement of a user community familiar with the acronyms and abbrs. Desperately hunting for apartments force-teaches many to become experts in the linguistics of the newspaper ads, just as years of playing around with text messaging has both created and force-taught millions how to lol at the mztks of novice texters 🙂

The question is, how fast will a new language take to form that will fit comfortably into the confines of Facebook advertising, and how valuable will it be to users to teach themselves how to navigate the language? Only time will tell.

Ltz hop it dznt kll lang al2gthr!

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The US Federal Trade Commission is trying to corner all of the good properties on the Monopoly board before Google can buy them up, metaphorically speaking.

Google’s latest expansion of its search algorithms to modify search results in favor of Google Plus tags is seen by many to be just one more step in guaranteeing that those who master Google’s own toolsets will be able to benefit most from Google search.

In a nutshell, the recent changes to Google rules with result in SERPS (search engine result pages) showing content based upon a combination of the searcher’s criteria and the activities of the social network (within Google’s world) of that searcher. If I have many friends and business associates related to me through Google+, and those social connections have preferences for particular entities or businesses relative to a search I am conducting on Google, those preferences will be a factor in my SERPS. You like funnypets.com (via a Google+ like), and you are in my Plus network, then funnypets.com becomes a more likely result for me in searches related to pets and fun.

This is all great in a world where the only type of searching you do is as part of a community. But how many of us really want to be influenced by others in what should be simple research? I mean, if my Google+ friend likes some really stupid websites, should those preferences play any role at all in my online search for related content? My friends on Google+ have their own preferences for many things that are part of my world; however, I can contact them directly if I want their input.

These Google+ influences on search bring us into a party-line mode of Internet search. For those of you who don’t know that reference, a party line used to be a situation whereby multiple people would have access to the same general circuit on the phone, thereby making it all too possible that someone else could accidentally or purposely listen in our your calls. I think most of us would agree that this is not a situation we would like to return as part of our phone networking, so why would we want to make it part of our online search?

As an Internet Marketer I have both this personal stake in what Google is doing and a very important business stake. How do I control the external influencers, the social networks, of my clients’ potential connections? Making yourself visible in a top position in Google search is hard enough. Trying to get a first page listing when you have this vast unknown of Google+ connections that are influencing the search results of people looking for your services or products will be many times harder.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not afraid of hard work. Don’t necessarily like it, but not afraid of it. Hard work will not overcome something over which I have no possible control. If Google decided that all SERPS would be presented in Russian by default, I could learn Russian and I could help my clients learn Russian no matter how difficult that might be (Это нет обвинительного акта русского языка!). Yet if Google decided that every time someone uses their search tool, Google would no longer pick the best public resources available for that search result but instead selected something only they could find, there is little I could do to control the results.

By the way, that is what they are doing.

No big conspiracy theories here. I hope the FTC can “guide” Google back to open search with a little prodding. Whether Google’s move is malicious or not, the end result is a more self-centered, niche world of search. People spend enough time now narrowing their filters on things they do, read, watch, listen to, or research; taking away the last opportunity for people to accidentally stumble upon someone else’s world view on the Internet may make us more comfortable in our own little cubicles, but it does nothing for expansiveness of thought.

The promise of the Internet has always been the free and unfettered access to information. If I want someone else’s opinion about what I want, I’ll ask them for it. Right now it’s more like that old saying: If I wanted your opinion, I’d give it to you.

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Let’s be honest with ourselves as businesspeople: are those Facebookers really your “friends” and to they really “like” your company? Are they following you on Twitter because you are the smartest and best of breed in your industry?

Hopefully the answer to those questions is a resounding YES! But like I suggested at the start – let’s be honest. You probably gave something away on Facebook that was liked, and the opportunity to get more stuff for free is why so many might be following you.

You tell your kids that they are great when they sometimes are simply mediocre at sports. Was your wife really beautiful that night at the party, or was that a little white lie to make her feel good? Were you really happy that your customer called, or was that closing “So glad we spoke” simply a way to put an upbeat ending to an otherwise painful conversation?

We run our businesses as well as we can, and if we are good we put extra effort into making sure our products or services are better than most. When we excel it is usually because we have kept our eyes on the ball and made sure our customers are not dissatisfied. As I have heard it said so perfectly before, we strive to suck less than our competitors.

That’s not a low bar I am setting. Rather it is simply a matter of truth in advertising. We are selected and kept by our customers because they find in us a value that goes beyond what we sell or do. You can’t really believe that you are the only one who could do what you do, nor should you be delusional in thinking that you are the very best in the entire world at doing it. You succeed because you convince your customers that you are the only one FOR THEM to do what you do, and you are the best FOR THEM at doing it.

The social lies you tell are not dishonest; they are comforting. In the world of Internet Marketing, we optimize for our clients on the basis of what searchers want to hear (okay, see really, unless we are talking video, but let’s not digress). If they want the “best garage door repair service” possible, then that is what you are when you optimize for the web. When someone is looking for “great French food”, it is the only food your restaurant serves on the Internet.

Those Facebook likes you want are going to come from something you offer that a user likes. Don’t be depressed because they really don’t like you or your business; it’s all going to be fine because you’re going to tell that “liker” that you think they are the best friend ever!

A social lie, but it’s okay.

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So here’s a question to ponder: how many times does a clock strike 12 each day?

Sometimes things so obvious to us as business owners. You’re in the business of selling children’s clothing, so your audience needs to have or know children, and needs to want to buy clothing for those children. Your company handles investment management? Obviously you want to talk to anyone who has some discretionary funds. Beauty Salon? Well, you need to speak to people who need their makeup or hair taken care of, right?

That at least is the business model that works in the brick and mortar world. Who’s walking into a children’s clothing store that has no connection to children? What kind of person goes to speak with an investment manager when they have no money to invest? Do women really go into a beauty salon when they are not ready for some personal attention?

Hey, but I don’t operate in the brick and mortar world. Search Engine Marketing by its very nature either exists entirely in the ether of the web, or integrates hard advertising into the Internet. While the purpose of Digital Marketing in many cases is to drive an audience towards a brick and mortar location, it is not confined to the physical rules of that location. And when you separate language from physical confines, you open the door to very significant changes in perception.

Which brings me back to my original question: How many times a day does a clock strike 12? The answers are 2, 24, and 26.

For an audience that thinks in analog, there is only one “12” on the face of a clock. Within 24 hours, the big hand of a clock sweeps to that number 24 times; once each for the striking of every hour, AM and PM. A purist (or an engineer) might argue that both the big hand and the little hand sweep past that “12” twice within the 24 hours of the day, hence the also-correct answer 26.

For those living in the digital world, the answers are also 24 and 26, but for a slightly different reason than for analog thinking. On a digital clock, the number 12 appears 26 times during a 24-hour period; twice at midnight and noon, and once for every hour of the day at 12 minutes past the hour.

So why 2? Simply put, the language of the question begs a unique thought process. We are trained to think of “the clock striking” as the time of a particular time of day. If we say “Meet me when the clock strikes 12”, no reasonable speaker of the English language would ever think to ask beyond the most basic “AM or PM?” As far as we all are concerned, based upon that phrasing of the question the clock only strikes 12 twice a day.

By that same thinking, our business owner examples might want to seriously consider the implications of search questions like “skiing outfit on sale”, or “inexpensive sports car”, or “halloween party supplies”. Try and put yourselves in the mindset of the audience that is searching, and imagine if perhaps as a children’s clothing store you might want to catch the eye of someone going on a skiing trip, especially if they have children who need warm clothes while on that trip. What if the person looking for an inexpensive sports car could be shown how to finance that car and save some money by a sharp investment manager? Does the Halloween partier want the makeup expertise of your beauty salon for an extra-special Halloween face?

It’s not really thinking out of the box. It’s more about making sure that you do not say “no” to a potential customer simply by not being visible in their search space. If you know your audience, then you will know their range of needs for your products or services. And then you will not no them.

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Did you Google+ me yet? Friend me? Invite me to join? My God I think that by “circle of friends” it was meant that we would come full circle in our lives back to junior high school!

Okay, we all know how important it is to create a business-relative circle of contacts, and we realize that this extends through Social Media into all of our social networks. Most of us that have anything at all to do with Internet Marketing recognize that it is impossible to move ourselves or our clients forward in this digital world without an extensive network of electronic connections. But does anyone else feel a little intimidated by the breath and expanse of it all relative to some of those old childhood traumas of feeling like an outsider?

First there is the timeliness of becoming acquainted with a new up-and-coming social networks. Today it is LinkedIn’s job search button, and yesterday it was Google+ Circles. Very powerful and provocative tools to help us all conduct business. Yet deep down there lie these lingering fears even for those of us who are working hard to stay on top of trends: Who else knew before me and do they think less of me because I found out later than them? Are the people using these tools smarter than me, or are they the new nerds/dumb jocks (pick your opposing side from junior high)? Will they invite me first or do I have to ask? Can I get in their clique or are they too cool for me?

Maybe it’s not that bad but I know I am not alone in these feelings. Social networking started out as a way for socially inept people to connect; try and frame the history any way you like , but that is the truth of it. From there it grew to become the best avenue for reconnecting with lost friends and then business acquaintances without having to drive to a local bar or networking event. Now, like virtually every cool electronic tool, we find it impossible to operate without.

And that’s okay. We are all busy and there are lots of people to talk to and hell, this is a social media post itself! I get it; we’re interfacing, we’re here, get used to it. It’s just that nagging little tickle at the back of the psyche that troubles me. As I use these social networks to conduct business and build larger circles, should I care about the people who join with me in those old social frameworks: too cool or too jerky for me?

Think about it for a few minutes as you review the invites you get and the circles you have already. Did you take more than a second to say yes? How many invites are sitting in your in-boxes while you try to figure if you ignore, delete, or accept? And what drives that delay – are you seriously checking out their business or long-term friendship value to you, or simply trying to figure how others will think about your having them in your circle?

I am sure it is some of each for those of us that actually grew up at a time when all social connections were made in person. I am equally sure that an entirely new form of electronic-identity anxiety is forming in the minds of those who know no other method of contact.

All I’m saying is this – by all means get electronically connected, but once in a while get out of your office/cubicle/bedroom and away from your social networking interface tools and sit in front of some of these same people and say “Hi”. We just might derive some emotional pleasure from those confrontations, and then we might be able to determine if that “connect” was worth it after all.

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The Internet market continues to change daily, but some elements not only remain constant, they tend to improve over time. According to research done by Hubspot, the cost of gaining leads through outbound marketing is more than 60% greater than the cost of lead generation through inbound marketing. 

So what are inbound and outbound messaging? Simply put, when a company sends a message out to a targeted audience like emails, text messaging, banner and other push ads, it is outbound messaging. Inbound messaging is driven by the audience through targeted entry points, such as social media, online tools and games, and of course the most powerful of the inbound marketing methods, SEO. 

Internet Marketers have known this for some time; the best value for any company in marketing has consistently been through optimization of their content (their message) so that it can more easily be stumbled upon. 

This information is not lost on corporate marketers, as is evidenced in the chart of 2010 and 2011 marketing budgets of companies surveyed by Hubspot:

Lead Generation Budget Allocations North America

Lead Generation Budget Allocations North America

The message is clear – your audience is waiting for you to propose a reason for them to contact you, and not the other way around. If the growth of social media tells us nothing else, it is that there is a hunger for consumers to find out more about products, services, and companies themselves. It is the job of the marketer to help them in that search by making sure their messages are obvious and concise. 

Like those times when we were young and inquisitive, we need to answer the question of whether we are an in-ee or an out-ee.

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