January 29th, 2012 by

Internet Marketing Weekly: Facebook Timeline and Enabling the Subscribe Button

The new version of Facebook for personal profiles called Timeline, will become mandatory within the week to all users. If you haven’t voluntarily enabled it, now is the time to add a great cover image that tells your story before the switch takes place. This article will not only tell you how, but includes a downloadable template.

Once you do this, consider enabling the Subscribe button on your profile. If you’re an innkeeper who likes to post things about your inn on your personal page, you can set those status updates to “public.” When you do so, anyone who has subscribed to your personal profile will get to see your posts. They won’t, however, be able to see any status updates you earmark for friends, or special sub-groups you’ve created.

Enable Facebook Subscribe in your Personal Profile

Enable Facebook Subscribe in your Personal Profile

The way that Subscribe works is any and all Facebook users can sign up to get the PUBLIC posts in their News Feed of any user who has enabled Subscribe. Please Note: Subscribe is optional.

Facebook is pushing the Subscribe option (maybe to compete with Google+ ?). For Facebook users that have enabled Subscribe, the button now shows in the Comments plugin on websites, so you can easily find and subscribe to new people. Plus, Facebook recently introduced the Subscribe button plugin which you can add to your website.

Though it would seem the Subscribe option is designed for public figures, you may fid this a useful addition to your personal profile if you like to mention the activity happening at your inn, ranch or other business. If you’re someone who only uses your personal profile as a gateway to your fan page, then adding the subscribe button, and posting as the owner of your business makes a lot of sense.

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January 22nd, 2012 by

Internet Marketing Weekly: Google’s new “Search Plus Your World” presents marketing opportunities to businesses with Google+ business pages.

search plus your world (SPYW) toggle

Search Plus Your World provides marketing opportunities to businesses.

Google’s moves toward personalizing search results took a dramatic turn a little over a week ago with the introduction of Search Plus Your World (SPYW). Now when you do a Google search while logged in to a Google account, you might see results from your Google+ network integrated into the search results.

Google+ isn’t SPYW’s only source of personalized information: you might also see photos on Flikr, threads on Quora, and other publicly available information.

Even if you’re not signed in or don’t have a Google+ account, you might see Google+ content on search results pages. This dramatically heightened visibility of Google+ pages creates a huge marketing opportunity for businesses. (Read more about how you can create a business page on Google+.)

Keep reading →

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January 15th, 2012 by

Internet Marketing Weekly: Strategies to help get started with Twitter, a quick and easy marketing tool that will gain you exposure.

Market with Twitter
As we move into 2012, it is a great time to start your Twitter account. Twitter is an easy and quick marketing tool. Tweeting, if done correctly, can help you to gain exposure for your brand and drive traffic to your blog and website. If you’re not sure how to get started, here are five steps to help.

1. Create a Strategy People will Follow

Be yourself, be real, interact and show who you are. These are guiding principles of all great Twitter accounts. Contributing original, funny, interesting or useful ideas is the best way to develop a following. Most people will look over your account before deciding to follow, so there must be a good reason to follow you in a quick glance.

2. Don’t Forget the Real Life Connections

Use the search box at the top of your Twitter account to search for people you already know. Locate their accounts and start to follow them. They will often follow you in return. Also, go out and locate other professionals or experts in your area of business. Twitter is a social network, so the more social you become, the more followers you will have.

3. Come one, Come all!

One of the best ways to get started with Twitter is an open invite. Use your newsletters and blog posts, and add a Twitter widget to your site or to Facebook. If you start to proactively reach out to people, your followers will grow.

4. Interact and Engage

After completing the steps above, you should have a number of followers. The number one reason why Twitter accounts fail is because there is no dialogue. Make sure to respond and get involved with your followers’ comments and accounts. Twitter works very similar to high school — if you sit down to lunch with a group of people you don’t know, pretty soon you’ll make a few friends. Twitter followers are always looking for a good laugh, so remember to keep it light and show off your personalty.

5. Consistency is the Key

If you follow the first four steps, in a few months, more people will be following and interacting with you. The worst thing you can do with your Twitter account is lose traction. The one way to avoid this is to keep a consistent stream of information going. I recommend that you post at least twice a week. As you grow your account, you might find yourself tweeting daily.

For more information and a deeper look into Twitter, please read a great post written by our very own Social Media Marketing Strategist Laura Alisanne, Twitter for Your Business: An Intro Guide to Get You Up & Running.

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January 8th, 2012 by

Internet Marketing Weekly: Social Media delivers a return on investment differently than traditional forms of outreach. In utilizing Social Media, ROI happens through meaningful “many-to-many” interactions with your online community.

You’ve followed the advice of your marketing expert, and created a Facebook Fan Page for your business. You add a couple of the most recommended APPs including a “welcome” tab and “incentive” or “fan-gating” tab, as well as a custom profile image. You slowly, but steadily build a following of fans over several months. You post on a semi-regular basis, perhaps two to three times per week.

Feeling you’re doing everything right, you wonder, “why am I doing this?” “Is it actually increasing my revenue?” Am I seeing an upswing in bookings or sales?” “How can I measure this?” “Is all the time I spend on social media giving me a return on my investment?”

Great questions all, and it would be worrisome if your weren’t asking.

Facebook User Growth Chart by Ben Foster

Social Media is a relatively new animal. It is certainly newer than the acronym ROI.
With classic ROI, you look at what you put in: be it advertising, specials, promotions or marketing, and you watch. If “x” number of dollars were spent on this print ad campaign, or “y” dollars in promotional merchandise giveaways, then you expect a certain number of dollars to be returned to you via purchases, or bookings from your efforts.

One of the reasons you’re in business is to make money. But top performing marketers will tell you that the real commodity in business is not actually money, but people.

Social media, being “relationship” and “sharing” based, helps your business grow by fostering loyalty to your brand. LOYALTY is the steam that drives the potential to increase your profits. Building relationships takes time. This is a long-term investment.
In the world of social media, the number one way to increase your following is by actively engaging your fans in what they care about. Engagement fosters loyalty.

The Cold, Hard Truth

1. Once a fan “likes” your page, they very, very rarely return to the page itself. About 98% of the time, a fan never looks at your fan page again (unless you offer a repetedly compelling reason to go to it). That’s why installing a multitude of Apps as tabs on your page is secondary to posting engaging content that fans want to interact with.

2. It has become increasing more challenging to show up on your fan’s News Feeds. Facebook delivers content to a fan’s News Feed based upon how that fan interacts with fan pages they’ve liked, their friends posts, etc. Now it is important to post 1-3 times a day, with content that is relevant to your fans. The once-per-week post is a thing of the past. It will garner you very little.

What Are Effective Forms of Engagement?

The most successful forms of engagement come in one of three ways, but all are nestled under one umbrella: Engagement (aka participation).

Zappos featured fan photo


1. Ask Your Fans to Share

Request that your fans share their photos and experiences on your page. Then reward those fans by featuring them. Zappos, one of the most beloved retailers in the US today, does this very well by asking fans to post pictures of themselves, their kids and their pets with a Zappos shipping box. The participation level is enormous. Zappos rewards the fans who have participated by featuring one of the fan’s photos in their ever-changing profile image on their Facebook fan page.

2. Promotions:
These can be a fantastic way to engage your fans. Keep in mind that Facebook has strict rules about conduction promotions. The biggest rule to keep in mind is that you must use a 3rd party App if you’re going to conduct any kind of drawing, sweepstakes, contest or competition. Your own content in an iFrame app qualifies so long as you include the correctly worded disclaimers. Refer to this helpful post for more information.

 

Surf Dog Ricochet’s Dirty Dog Photo Contest on their Facebook Fan Page

3. Give-Aways:
Give-aways can take many forms, from helpful information and links to resources to enhance the life of your fans, to freebies like a magazine subscription for the best (or first) fan to comment on a topic you choose, or photo posts that get the greatest number of likes (votes) from fans. Surf Dog Richochet does this quite often, and in this example, they’ve clearly stated that for the photo posts of “Dirty Dog Photo Contest” likes equal votes, and the greatest number gets the photo poster a perk like a $25 gift card to Petco, Surf dog Ricochet t-shirt, or “Paw it Forward” wristband.

Since Facebook changed the way users interact with fan pages back in November, it is possible for fans and non-fans alike to post on your wall, comment on, and share your content. What this means it that now, not only is it important to acquire fans via “likes,” is is also important to create content that non-fans want to share.

A Fan Base Can Grow Your Brand (aka business):

50% of small business owners reported gaining new customers through social media – most notably through Facebook and LinkedIn. *(Neilsen)

51% of Facebook users and 64% of Twitter users are more likely to buy from the brands they follow. *(Mediabistro)

Even if you have 500+ fans, it only takes 20 people to create meaningful many-to-many interactions and bring an online community to a significant level of activity.*(Ning)

Mediabistro infographic

The top seven post types that foster engagement:

1. Use images in your posts.
2. Keep it short and sweet as much as you can.
3. Keep the “I” to a minimum.
4. Include a call to action.
5. Give timely information that includes tips and links to useful resources.
6. Share a great cause that you believe in and want to support.
7. Share video. (Make sure it’s useful, or humorous or uplifting content).

And the final, and essential element, check your page regularly, and make sure you respond to comments. If your fans have taken the time to read and respond to your posts, then they deserve a response from you. If fans feel that you care enough to respond, they will feel their time has been well-spent.

Measuring Your Success

Find out how you’re doing. Study Your Statistics and Results using Facebook’s built-in “Insights” data.

Facebook offers some really great analytics for pages. Pay attention to them. If you see a big surge in fans (or a drop off), look at what you’ve posted recently and see if you can figure out any trends. Then post more of that kind of content (or less, in the event that you’re losing fans, or the engagement just isn’t there).

Sources:
Ning: http://www.ning.com/about/press_release_062011/
Neilsen: http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/social/
Mediabistro: http://www.mediabistro.com/alltwitter/small-business-social-media_b14294

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January 1st, 2012 by

Internet Marketing Weekly: Use the Lessons from 2011 to Plan Your Internet Marketing Resolutions for 2012 and Increase the Effectiveness of Your Online Efforts

At the start of this new year, you may be experiencing an internet marketing hangover from 2011 and who could blame you? It was a hurricane (no mere whirlwind) of changes this last year. Highlights included:

Google

Panda bears may be lazy, but Google Panda has been anything but with 9 major updates since its release in 2011.

Panda bears may be lazy, but Google Panda has been anything but with 9 major updates since its release in 2011.

Google released 21 major updates in 2011, up from eight in 2010, five in 2009 and two in 2008. Most of these updates were centered around updates named for an endangered bear. In terms of search engine marketing, 2011 could be called The Year of the Panda. These updates were implemented to return higher-quality search query results by placing quality websites near the top of the search results and lower the rank of low-quality sites. Many complaints, a request from Google for help in gathering data, and several updates later, it appears Google Panda is finally starting to deliver on its promises.

Mobile Device Internet & Search Usage

According to StatCounter, the mobile device market for internet use continued to grow throughout 2011, rising to from just over 4% in December 2010 to 6.5% overall in November 2011.  In the search market, mobile devices now account for 20% of search engine queries.

Social Media Marketing

Google Plus logoGoogle+, the search engine’s latest and strongest foray into social media, was opened up for business profiles in November.

Facebook News Feed

Showing up in the news feed of your Facebook fans becomes increasingly important as your fan base grows.

Facebook announced their new Timeline personal profile feature, which rolled out worldwide on December 15, 2011.  The biggest lesson of 2011 for businesses on Facebook, though, is the need to be active and effective in engagement via the news feed of your fans.  The reason for this is the relative lack of traffic to a business page once “liked.”  A PageLever study of Facebook analytics shows that as your fan base grows the percentage of fans visiting the business page shrinks.  This does not mean that you don’t need to worry about the branding and extra features of your business page; it does mean that you will need to increasingly focus on the timeliness and engagement effectiveness of your postings to compete for visibility to your fans.

Twitter announced a new interface that is billed as more “follow friendly.”  YouTube announced a new design to enhance its social interactivity features.  All of these social media outlets are increasing their competitiveness for their slice of your social media marketing efforts.

Recommended Internet Marketing Resolutions for 2012

With 2011 now in the rear-view mirror, it’s time to make sure your internet marketing efforts are ready to meet the challenges as they emerge in 2012.

Keep reading →

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December 25th, 2011 by

Internet Marketing Weekly: Evaluate Your Blog Posts Using Google Analytics to Help Plan Future Blogging Efforts

How cute can you possibly get?

Find out which of your blog posts are most attractive using Google Analytics. (Hint: people like baby animals.)

You diligently spend the time to write a weekly blog post, and here at the end of December, you’re looking back on the past year, wondering how to maximize your efforts in 2012. How many people are reading your posts? Which posts are irresistible, and which inspire yawns? Find out using Google Analytics.

Identify what makes a post attractive

Some people will find your latest blog post in search results. Others might find a link to your post on Facebook or Twitter. Your more devoted readers might follow your blog through an RSS feed. So what makes a link to your post intriguing enough for these potential readers to click?

Google Analytics can show you which posts attracted the most visits, allowing you to draw conclusions about what types of posts your readers prefer.

Keep reading →

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December 18th, 2011 by

Internet Marketing Weekly Feature: Creating a blogging calendar will help you to become a successful blogger.

Content is King when it comes to Internet Marketing. A blog is going to become your number one tool for developing fresh, new and relevant content. But I often hear from business owners, “I don’t have enough time to blog”. That is understandable, business owners are usually focused on the day to day operations of their business. This post will show you ways to make blogging a part of your day to day operations.

Creating a blog calendar

Creating a blog calendar will make your life easier.

Step 1:  Locate a desktop calendar or an online calendar. Choose a calendar that best fits your needs. The Google Calendar  is a great free resource to use.

Step 2: Calculate how many times a month you are going to blog. You should keep in mind 2 blog posts a month should be your minimum (4 blog posts a month should become your goal). Once you have selected the number of posts your are going to write for the month. Select the day on the calendar you will launch your posts. Keep in mind that having a consistent day of the week is a great plan and will help you to become more organized. For this example, we will use Wednesday as your post day. Go back at least four days on that calendar and start to write what you are going to do to prepare that Wednesday post. Day 1: gather information for your post. Day 2: gather images for your post. Day 3: rough draft of the post is written. Day 4: final edits and posting. This strategy will help you spread out the work. You can do a few minutes of work a day. Instead of trying to spend an hour or two coming up with all the info and then having to write and publish the post.

Now that we have our day of the week selected for posting and created a few days of lead time.

Step 3: The next step is Brainstorming topic ideas. One place to start is your local Chamber of Commerce, or any other community based groups. They often times have great calendars of events and are very tied into what is happening in your area. Research all the events, festivals and concerts that are scheduled for the upcoming year. Add those dates to your blogging calendar. Remember that when your going to blog about an event that you need to write and publish the post weeks prior. By posting weeks before the event it will give you a great shot at being found in search.

Step 4: Once you have a calendar filled in for the whole year. Take a moment and start to look for blank weeks or a month where you might not have any posts scheduled. For these weeks you should start to fill in anything your business is doing over the next year you would like to promote. Recipes, local hiking trails, bike trails are great things to add to your list. People read blogs looking for local expertise or information about your area. You can use those empty weeks on your calendar to show your readers that your are an expert and resource for your area.

Step 5: Set up a system to alert yourself to blog. I personally miss the days of post it note chains that would snake across my desk. Removing each note as the weeks moved forward. Fortunately technology has advanced and there are many ways to send yourself reminders. Live gets busy so any tools you can use to help remind your self to start your blogging process will help.

With the new year rapidly approaching, it would be a great time to start to develop your calendar. A successful blogging strategy would make for a great New Year’s resolution.

I hope you found this information helpful and I wish everyone a Happy New Blogging Year!!

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December 11th, 2011 by

Internet Marketing Weekly: Updates to Social Media Marketing Heavyweights, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube

It’s been a whirlwind week, filled with significant updates to three of the most important social media, and social marketing tools operating today.

Twitter is launching an entirely new interface for both desktop and mobile devices, and YouTube has rearranged everything on your YouTube channel to allow for more powerful marketing and sharing with video. Facebook is rolling out their most dramatic user interface update since its inception.

A New Version of Twitter:


Twitter introduced a new version of its user interface on Thursday. The new design will be rolling out over the next few weeks, so not all users have it yet. The design can be seen on both on Twitter.com and mobile phones, as well as TweetDeck. Twitter notes that the new design will make it easier to “follow what you care about, connect with others and discover something new.”

You can see it immediately on the just-updated versions of mobile.twitter.com, Twitter for iPhone, and Twitter for Android. You can get early access on your computer by downloading and logging into Twitter for iPhone or Twitter for Android.

The new interface puts the five main components of Twitter front and center:

The Home Icon:

A new tab menu which is the same across all devices, gives you the same experience on mobile and desktop.

A simpler design where you can easily view your Twitter stats, get suggestions on who to follow and see trending topics.

See Tweets from all the accounts you follow. Tweets can now expand to show more information such as replies, retweets and embedded photos and videos.

The @ Symbol:

Connecting with @usernames:
Whenever you come across an @username—in the news, on a billboard or on a business card—enter it to learn more and connect instantly.

You can track your impact across Twitter. Interactions shows all the actions other people take related to you and your Tweets. See who follows you, retweets or favorites one of your Tweets, or adds you to a list.

See all the Tweets in which you are mentioned in one place, so you can keep the conversation going.

The # Hashtag:

The # symbol before any keyword allows you to search for things people are talking about. Twitter calls it “Discover.”

Enter any #hashtag to discover all of its related stories, conversation and content.

Your Profile Icon: Twitter Calls This the “Me” Tab:

When you click this tab, you can see stats on your tweets, as well as who your following and who’s following you. You also get a list of all your tweets in a nice big format. This is also the place to stay current with any direct message conversations you may be having.

The Quill Pen Icon: aka: The New Tweet Button

Click and post a new tweet, as well as upload photos from both your mobile and desktop. You can also add a location to indicate where you’re tweeting from.

With 100M active users per month, and the site overall seeing 400M monthly unique visitors, people, logged in or not, are using Twitter at a significant rate to stay connected and keep up with news.

Find out more in this Twitter-created video

The New Facebook: Timeline for all (well, everyone in New Zealand for starters, that is).

Facebook delayed the launch of the new Timeline, which was announced in September, after a company called Timeline.com filed a lawsuit against the name Facebook had come up with. Now that it’s all ironed out (well, except for Facebook’s new countersuit), they’ve decided to roll it out to New Zealiand’s 2 million Facebook users. Their strategy? “As a global company, we need to gain perspective and insights from outside the US. New Zealand is a good place to start because it’s English speaking, so we can read the feedback and make improvements quickly,”

In the meantime, you can only view the new Timeline if you yourself have it enabled, and the only way to do that currently is as a Facebook Developer. Here’s a view of one person’s Facebook Timeline:

Check out all the information and demonstrations on the Timeline from Facebook.

The New YouTube:

Last week, YouTube rolled out significant changes to their design. The overall look is much darker, and the layout is dramatically changed as well. The new YouTube is more focused on social activity around video and in letting viewers customize their home page experience.

YouTube is an often underutilized platform for marketing and connecting with users. However video is one of the most powerful way to connect your business to your guests and potential customers.

The New YouTube includes the following changes to the Channels design:

  • Avatars can be up to 1600×1600 pixels. It will be resized to be 36 x 36 pixels on many locations on the site.
  • New Channel width is 970 pixels.
  • You can choose which Tab you desire to be the Default View.
  • There are four new layout templates to choose from.
  • The Title Header can only be 64 characters long.
  • How long is that? Pretty long.
  • You can type or copy & paste some symbols
There are (as always) pros and cons to the new design. Here are some of the major points:
Pros:
  • Simple Design allows for better focus on Video
  • Channel Title can be customized up to 64 characters.
  • Friends/Subscribers not visible (to clutter up the design)
  • Sharing and Connected Accounts options is better
  • Search on the channel

Cons:

  • Absolute background color not changeable from YouTube “Gray”
  • Cannot manipulate the sections.
  • Channel Title background color not changeable.
  • Friends/Subscribers not visible (for others to see)
Find out more with these helpful links:
Try Out the new Channels.
YouTube’s video on using the new Channels.
YouTube’s Official blog post on the new Channels.
YouTube’s support guide.

You can experiment with the new Channels and then switch back as needed. In time, the new design will be enabled for all, so getting your feet wet now is a good idea.

How to flip between the old and new:

1. Click on EDIT CHANNEL

2. then “Switch back to the old channels design”

 

The last 10 days have seen a whirlwind of changes, with many new things to experiment with and learn more about. Tells us what you think, and share your thoughts here.

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November 20th, 2011 by

Internet Marketing Weekly Feature: The Basics of Twitter for Business

Twitter for your businessWhat’s Twitter?

Twitter is an information network made up of 140-character messages called Tweets. It’s an easy way to discover the latest news (“what’s happening”) related to subjects you care about.

At the core of Twitter are small bursts of information called Tweets. Each Tweet is 140 characters in length, —you can share a lot with a little space. Connected to each Tweet is a rich details pane that provides additional information, deeper context and embedded media. You can tell your story within your Tweet, or you can think of a Tweet as the headline, and use the details pane to tell the rest with photos, videos and other media content.

How is it Useful?

Twitter contains information you will find valuable. Messages from users you choose to follow will show up on your Twitter homepage for you to read. It’s like being delivered a newspaper whose headlines you’ll always find interesting – you can discover news as it’s happening, learn more about topics that are important to you, and get the inside scoop in real time.

How to Start Using Twitter:

Reading Tweets and discovering new information whenever you check in on your Twitter timeline is where you’ll find the most value on Twitter.

Keep reading →

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