Whether you are new to social media or have been creating campaigns for years, listen up. There is always room for improvement in social strategy development, especially since we work in an industry that is ever changing. So where do you start? Simply Business created this step-by-step flow chart to take businesses through the steps […]

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Google Plus is acquiring users at such a rapid pace that it’s impossible not to take notice. Many will point to charts, like the one below, to demonstrate the speed of unprecedented growth.

Google plus

I am particularly interested at the speed in which some notable people are shifting their resources and attention to – for a platform that’s less than a month old. Blogger Chris Brogan has effectively left Facebook for Google Plus (which he has already begun to host $47 webinars for), and many others have placed a calling-card avatar to point their Facebook fans to their new digs on Plus.

Google Plus

I am also surprised by Digg founder Kevin Rose’s move, who redirected kevinrose.com to his Google Plus page. I can understand how critical it feels to be at the forefront of the next big social content network, but I have to ask whether this is a visionary move or a hasty attempt to be first for something with an unknown payoff?

So, what will be the true impact of Google Plus on blogs and the bloggers who blog on them? A few possibilities:

1. Hostile Blog Takeover

It’s a definite possibility that bloggers will decide that publishing full posts on Google Plus is much easier and more practical than maintaining a domain and dealing with the issues that come with blog hosting.

Many bloggers are reporting much higher engagement levels on Google Plus than those found on Facebook or even within blog comments. Some have even suggested using Google Plus as the main platform for new “posts,” which would also be stored in a repository way on the former blog, but no engagement would take place blog-side.

If the previous few weeks are any indication of the quality and quantity of conversations occurring on Google Plus, traditional blogs could be in for a major shake-up.

Probability of this occurring: medium-to-low. There’s the possibility that some will abandon sites like Tumblr and Posterous for Google Plus. I’ve also had feedback from some that are viewing Google Plus as an alternative to Blogger (it’s hard for me to see the comparison at this point). I don’t expect many serious bloggers to abandon their sites for something with no legitimate monetary or ownership payoff.

2. Blip on the Radar

Another possibility is that Google Plus will be no more than another niche tech community, used by few and cared about by even fewer. The initial fervor will wear off, the general public will fail to sign up, and current users will realize that it offers nothing substantially different from Facebook and the existing social treadmill. Companies, spammers, social gamification, and self-promoters will overrun the space and make it boring.

As a result of this scenario, nothing would change for bloggers. Google Plus would become platform to promote content and drive some additional traffic, but not much else.

Probability of this occurring: low. Google is piling on many resources to make this project successful, including shutting down other projects and giving internal employees the opportunity to move to the G+ team (and many are taking it).

3. Something In-between

Google will continue to add features for individuals and businesses to make Google Plus more attractive, but if it becomes a true blogging platform alternative, it may do no more than Blogger has done for Google. Or it may be more successful at helping individuals monetize and gain audiences than existing platforms have done. Right now, the indexation and SEO components of Google Plus are also pretty sparse and true data ownership is nil. Still, G+ has the possibility of being a major contender and source of exposure, as bloggers experiment by posting whole posts to G+, using it as a hybrid for posting media that they wouldn’t otherwise host on their own sites.

Probability of this occurring: high.

So, if you’re considering whether to follow a few bloggers off the Google Plus cliff, it may be wiser to use Google Plus more judiciously than just dumping all of your efforts into it. With few exceptions, you’re better off continuing to focus on blogging where you have complete control (and complete SEO benefits), while building some presence on other shiny new networks like Google Plus.

Note from Ann: Here’s an in-depth post on how to start using Google Plus and a great Google  Plus tutorial, in case you want to give it a try. Here are also a post on why Google Plus might fail.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Should Bloggers Be Nervous about Google Plus?

Social search, as defined by Wikipedia (everyone’s most trusted online source), is “a type of web search method that determines the relevance of search results by considering the interactions or contributions of users.” Some marketers have claimed that social search is doing away with traditional search methods and that SEO is dead in the water because of it.

But social media and social search are not the magic bullet to online marketing needs. They are just one more piece in the growing arsenal of Internet marketing tools available to SEO professionals. SEO and social media should not exist in separate silos, vying for online dominance. In fact, SEO and social media marketing can be intertwined to create more online brand presence for companies than they could ever do alone.

Here are 3 examples of how social media and SEO work together:

1. Social promotion of content generates natural links

According to Twitter, around 25% of all Tweets contain a URL. In March 2011, Twitter was seeing an average of 140 million Tweets per day. That’s 35 million Tweets every day with a link in them! Twitter has become a go-to source for breaking news and is a favorite social network among consumers for learning the latest about their favorite brands and companies. By publishing your content and promoting it on Twitter, you are encouraging your network to not only check out your content, but also pass the link along to their network in the form of a reTweet. The more times your content is shared, the better it looks in the eyes of the search engines.

When it comes to Facebook, many marketers will say that the more Likes your company page has, the better. While Likes are important, they are starting to be overshadowed by the number of Shares a piece of content has. Someone could Like your Facebook page in order to get a promotional deal. Plenty of them will unlike your page just as fast and never bother to return. So what is a Like really worth? When someone Shares your content by posting it to their Facebook wall, they are broadcasting to their network (and the search engines) that this content is valuable in some way, whether it be informative or just interesting. The recent Facebook-Bing integration pulls this information into the search results when a user conducts a search and affects the SERP based on what that user’s social network has to say.

2. Social networks drive traffic

If you want to drive traffic to your company blog, posting snippets of each new post to your Facebook wall and to the LinkedIn groups you are a part of is a great way to do just that. But posting the first paragraph and not the whole thing, visitors have to leave your Facebook page for your blog in order to finish reading the post. You have a much better chance at converting a visitor once they are on your blog or main site than when they are just sitting on your social profile. A well-optimized social profile should encourage visitors to check out the main site for more information. Think of your social profiles as the gateway into your site. Someone who is checking out your social profile has already pre-qualified themselves as a well-targeted consumer. Driving them to your site is the next logical step in getting them to convert.

One of the main goals of SEO is to drive targeted traffic. Social networking is about connecting with your audience. When the two work together you’ll see a steady stream of well-targeted and engaged visitors coming to your site.

It has to be mentioned that social profiles should drive traffic back to the main site, not the other way around! Why would you want a potential customer to leave your site to Like you on Facebook? Promoting your social profiles shouldn’t be a main goal of your site. Keep the “Connect with Us” buttons out of prime webpage real estate.

3. Social networking increases online brand presence

Search for your favorite company by name. Hopefully their company website ranks number one in the SERP, with popular internal pages filling out the first page. But chances are (if they are active in social media) their Facebook page and LinkedIn profile, along with other niche social networking sites, will also pepper the results. Just like any other business profile, social networking profiles can rank in the search engines, increasing your company’s online brand presence. Many searches will also show links that have been shared by that company’s Twitter profile or posted to their Facebook wall. The new Google +1 also shows who in your Google network recommends links.

Social media and SEO professionals shouldn’t be squabbling over whose authority and practice is more important. The two disciplines are more closely related than you might think. When you combine your SEO and social media marketing, you’ll create a much more powerful and comprehensive online marketing strategy.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

How SEO and Social Media Add Up to Online Marketing Success

You, as a brand or an online marketer, see social media as a channel for reaching your audience and spreading your messages. But how does your audience see social media?

Aside for being your customers, they are also humans, right?

They have friends and family and they also use social media for connecting with them .

They also have hobbies and many other interests besides your products to include in their social activity.

So, what drives them into welcoming you in their social news stream?

And more than that, how could you keep their interest alive and avoid being ignored among all the other exciting posts on their walls?

Use Reverse Psychology

A study made by Exact Target (a social media and e-mail marketing services company) highlights the reasons people have for ending their connections with brands on social platforms.

These reasons are at the bottom of your audience’s dissatisfaction and, therefore at the bottom of their expectations. And knowing what expectations your audience has from you, is the key to engage and retain them in your social circle.

So, based on this study’s results, I came up with these three types of social fellows, each to be engaged differently:

1. Material driven

These are people that connect with you through contests, special promotions, coupons or other promotional campaigns you run and you need to offer something in return for them to join you on social networks.

Their main purpose is to win prizes, get discounts, free trials, free stuff (products, membership, etc) or other material benefits. 27% from the people inquired for the social study said the reason they stop following brands on Twitter was because they only followed the company to take advantage of a one time offer.

How to engage them

  • Run your promotions over longer periods of time. Thus you will increase the chances of engaging the participants in a permanent relationship with your brand.
  • Request more interaction from the participants than just a subscription/registration/sign up. If they are required to act several times along the promotion (you don’t need to ask them complicated things to do) they might have the chance to get to know you better, to get accustomed with your brand and maybe find other things they like from you.
  • Don’t let any of the participants disappointed even if they didn’t win the big prize. Come up with a consolation reward for those who didn’t make it through the contest (it might be as small and effortless as a “thank you” email for entering the promotion) but don’t end it quietly.
  • Announce or let them foresee your upcoming contests and promotions. The study I was mentioning before showed that 24% of those questioned unliked brands on Facebook because these brands didn’t offered enough deals.

2. Impulsive

Some people “Like” or “Follow” a company without much consideration. They just do it! It might be after reading a post or seeing an ad they like and they don’t see this action as the start of a long term relationship. Therefore they are not ready for further involvement or commitment towards your business.

In fact, 51% of the people questioned, said they rarely or never visit a company’s page after “liking” them.  Sad huh?

How to engage them

  • Vary your content. Approaching a larger area of topics helps you both cover a wider range of people and surprise your audience with brand new topics.
  • Don’t overdo on a subject, because it might get annoying and boring for your audience. More than half of those participating in the social study (52%) said they stop following brands on Twitter because their content became repetitive or boring over time.
  • Always look for feedback to determine the interesting topics in your social circle, the problems and the uncertainties your audience has and come up with the content they need.
  • And don’t be too pushy. 44% of the inquired people in the study said that they unliked brands on Facebook because they where posting too frequently. This means that you don’t need to rant or say meaningless things just to have something posted on your wall. Speak only when you have something valuable to say. Otherwise people will lose their interest and stop following you.

3. Informational driven

The most valuable part of your audience consists in those who see your social profile as a source of information. They are not looking for chit-chats, bonuses or fame. They are in just for some tips, tricks or for some new, hot and interesting stuff.

How to engage them

  • Focus your posts on actionable information. Anybody can rant but only a few are able to give just that piece of information you can take, apply and get instant results. By sharing useful content, you can make a difference and win these people over. 20% of people ended their connection with brands on Twitter because the company’s tweets were too chit-chatty and did not focus on real value.
  • Stay up to date and share new, hot content. It’s essential to build a reputation for being informed.
  • Maintain a high quality standard of your posts. It’s easy to get carried away on these social streams and promote content just for the sake of posting. It is best to keep your focus on quality as the popularity will thus build itself.
  • Try to keep the promotional stuff at a minimum level. Just think about the fact that 43% of the respondents in the study said they unliked brands on Facebook because their wall was becoming too crowded with marketing posts.

Keep Your Social Circle Round

It’s not easy to be socially appealing as a brand but with the right message, I believe you can get your audience involved and happy.

But, how do you build your brand’s social profile? What methods do you use to maintain your audience engaged? Any tips you could share would be greatly appreciated!

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Different People Use Social Media for Completely Different Purposes

We continue our (hopefully inspiring and motivational) series featuring successful self-made entrepreneurs. The first interview was with Kyle James, founder of Rather-Be-Shopping.

And today we are interviewing Andrew Kardon, co-founder and co-owner of JoeShopping.com, an innovative free shopping tool.

1. Please tell us a few words about yourself: what are you doing for life?

Well, on the personal side, I’m happily married to my college sweetheart. I have two young sons who inspire and entertain me on a daily basis. Professionally, I’m the president and co-owner of JoeShopping.com, a social shopping site dedicated to saving users money. In a nutshell, we offer hot deals, coupons, comparison shopping, product reviews, shopping blogs and more, all mixed in with a very robust social network. Our elevator pitch is: Imagine if Facebook and Amazon had a baby.

2. You started making money online early: what brought you to Internet Marketing? What was your inspiration?

We launched JoeShopping in March of 2010. Before that my business partner and I ran a popular online coupons site. We started that one back in 1999, so we were in on the affiliate marketing game early. The site really took off and we sold it in 2008, using the profits to start up JoeShopping.

JoeShopping follows a similar business model, so our 10+ years of experience in affiliate marketing is still being put to good use. For JoeShopping, though, we’re really trying to embrace the best parts of social media, and with that comes all sorts of new Internet Marketing challenges and opportunities. MySpace got us initially interested, but Facebook and Twitter really opened our eyes to just how wide open the social scene really can be.

3. What monetization plans did you try in course of your online marketing career? Which turned out to be the most successful?

Back in the day we tried standard banner ads, which never really did much Other than that, we’ve mostly gone with affiliate links. For the most part, we’ve worked off of the rev share model rather than a pay-per-click one. We’ve found that if you put together strong content and try to match as closely to what users are looking for, they will click and chances are they will follow through on a purchase. We don’t want to clog the works up with tons of flashy banner ads or paid links. Instead, we want to offer our users the best possible content we can, so when they’ve done their research and they’re ready to make a purchase, they’ll click through and do so.

4. Your current project is unique and interesting? How did you come up with the idea?

We came up with the initial concept of JoeShopping years ago, well before we sold our coupon site, because we wanted to do something more with products. We had a consultant start working on a bare bones comparison shopping tool, and then MySpace came along. I loved the concept but hated the execution. It was clunky, ugly and, with all the different looks and themes, it was just utter chaos. So we said, “What if we built something like MySpace but themed it towards shopping, and made it much more accessible to users with a consistent look and feel?”

We built a very basic community at first but the hard part was getting the comparison shopping side of things working. So things sat on hold for a while while our coupon business picked up. Once we sold that site, we finally had the time to dedicate to JoeShopping. By then Facebook had jumped on the scene, so we went back to the drawing board, redesigned the whole site and thought of a slew of new community-type features to integrate.

That’s what I love most about JoeShopping: the community and shopping mesh very well together. You can ask other shoppers their opinions on products, merchants, gift suggestions, etc. You can “share” a product on someone’s page. On Facebook, you can tell a friend to go buy the new Harry Potter movie on Blu-ray. But then what? On JoeShopping, you can tell a friend to go buy the latest Harry Potter movie, and attach a product to your comment, which includes a price range and a list of stores where you can instantly buy it. The same goes for product reviews; it’s just neat to see a stream of product reviews, showing you what people are currently buying and talking about. It’s that sort of integration that, to me, truly defines the phrase “social shopping”.

5. You mentioned you had a partner. What’s the secret of a successful online partnership?

Well, every partnership is different. I met my business partner Jeff Grossman in our junior year of high school actually. We used to swap notes from Spanish and Physics class. The key is really playing to each others strengths. We come from different backgrounds. I was an English major, he was in finance. That helps makes it easy to divvy up the workload.

6. What are your plans for the future?

In the immediate future, we’re making some additions to our coupons pages that will let users get more involved and submit coupons themselves. In the next month or two we’re rolling out a unique new program related to coupons. No one’s done anything quite like it yet, but it’s a really great spin on using coupons, and it’s cleverly mixed in with a rewards program. Beyond that, we hope to work a lot closer with merchants, getting them much more involved and active on the site.

7. As an experienced and successful online marketer, what’s your advice to those who are just starting out?

I don’t want to sound cliché, but basically, be unique! Concentrate on putting out some really great original content rather than just aping everyone else’s style. You can promote and dress things up all you want but if in the end you’re not offering anything substantially unique, no one’s going to care. There are no shortcuts either. It takes time to build trust and to build a solid brand. So believe in your product, make it the best it can be and then get out there and tell the world.

8. Please list most useful high quality sites you are / were reading. What helped you succeed? What kept you motivated?

Just using various social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and FourSquare not only helped with inspiration but definitely kept me motivated. Seeing how people use those sites and all the information that’s openly shared has always been a huge help.  Also, Shawn Collins and Missy Ward’s Affiliate Summit trade shows have been invaluable in helping us network with merchants and other partners in the industry.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Interview with Andrew Kardon, Co-Owner of JoeShopping.com

Social media is all around us.

Whether you’re a small company or a large corporation, there is a good chance you are partaking in the social media phenomena that has gripped the world in recent years.

That being said, companies cannot just wing it when it comes to social media. By doing just that, they risk alienating the very individuals they’re trying to attract.

According to emarketer.com, four out of five U.S. businesses with 100 or more employees will use social media marketing this year. That’s quite an increase from 2008 when only 42% of businesses marketed via social media. With consumer usage of social media increasing in the U.S. and around the world, marketers have moved from careful engagement to a full-on attack.

While many businesses are waging an all-out battle in utilizing social media in their marketing campaigns, there are land mines to dodge along the route.

In order to steer clear of these potential problems, there are a number of practices businesses should avoid when using social media:

  • Over promoting – We all get bombarded on a daily basis with emails and other electronic forms of transmissions from individuals and companies wanting to alert us to a product, sell us something or just plain want our attention. One major mistake companies can make is too much promotion. By too much promotional information, you risk turning off your followers (current and potential customers). A little self-promotion here and there is fine, but be sure to balance things out so your copy doesn’t take on the look of e-mail spam.
  • Lack of engagement – When a follower comments about your business via Facebook, Twitter etc., do you respond? While you should not get caught up in an on-going discussion or dispute with a follower, responding in brief shows your interest in a follower’s question, comment or concern. By creating a relationship with those who follow you, you’re giving them an ear and keeping the lines of communication open.
  • Leaving your social media profile to chance – While more and more companies try and do more with less, giving spotty attention to your social media efforts will end up costing you followers and potential sales down the road. Simply creating an account will not get the job done; manage it and be sure it receives the necessary attention to bring in a regular stream of followers.
  • Know the difference between business and personal accounts – Whether a business has a written policy or verbal one, it is important for those heading up the marketing efforts to differentiate between business and personal social media. Assuming what you’re going to say is something you’d think twice about telling a boss, co-worker or client in person, then think twice about saying it on a company social media venue.
  • Not measuring social media analytics – What is the sense of having a social media campaign if you are not going to follow up on it? Once your goals are in place, how will you track your results? There are different tools available for companies to track their social media footprints, including Klout, Social Mention, Twazzup, Scoutlabs and EvoApp to name just a few.
  • Traveling the unknown road – You have a social media strategy but it is drawn up on a roadmap with no final destination. As noted earlier, what are your goals with social media? Are you in it just because the competition is too or are you in it to achieve something? By forming a strategic plan for your social media ventures, you stand a better chance of accomplishing something. Branding and marketing via social engagement can be a boon to your business if you know how to use it in the first place.

While these are but a few of the mistakes businesses can make with social media, there are endless possibilities too.

As more businesses reach out to consumers, are you a follower or a leader in the world of social media?

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Think You Can’t Make Social Media Mistakes?

How do you get more clients? I went freelance just about a year ago (for the second time in my career), and though it’s been sometimes more exciting than I’d like, it’s been a great ride and pretty successful. I’m celebrating a year of independence today on Independence Day! So I thought I’d share with you what’s worked to get me clients and a few other aspects of the journey. I hope you find it beneficial to your search consulting business.

Get More Clients With Facebook Ads

These are a huge opportunity, especially right now while not everybody realizes they’re a huge opportunity 😉 You can get a huge amount of awareness and exposure, not to mention cheaper clicks than AdWords can give you. If you want to learn this, I have a FanReach module about them specifically.

Here’s an ad I used mainly for awareness that got me 138,736 impressions for just $26.31.

A similar ad I ran before I spoke at the AllFacebook conference was seen by a prospective client I had talked to 6 months earlier- this reminded him of me and led to a conversation and him becoming a new client.

Just think about what you know about multi-touchpoint analytics and the value of top of the funnel awareness. Act on it.

Get More Clients With AdWords

This is more expensive than Facebook ads, but if your prospects think search is important, they’re probably searching Google for what you offer, so it might be a good idea to show up there. Let’s put aside the debate about whether organic or ads are better- you should do both. Why? I’ll tell you…

Although I started in internet marketing with SEO and AdWords, my association with Facebook and PR experts has taught me the value of mindshare and brand awareness. If you haven’t studied positioning, just know that the brand that shows up the most gains psychological credibility and trust with your potential clients. (And don’t go looking for my ads right now- I have a full load right now writing a book about Facebook and helping my current clients, so although I’m considering new clients, I’m not aggressively going after for them.)

Applying years of experience to how I would advertise myself has led to what I’d describe as focus. I advertise on the most exact keywords I can find, because I only want really qualified prospects.

Get More Clients With Facebook Pages And Like Boxes

Facebook Pages are a double-edged sword. Despite the benefits, you have to post regularly and you want to grow enough fans to not look lame, but they do provide social proof (put a like box on your website showing how many fans you have) and can show up as organic search listings in the Google top 10.

Get More Clients With SEO

If you know how to get SEO results for clients, should you rank for your own profession? I know there are good reasons why you might not- maybe you work on your clients so much that you always push your own sites too far down the priority list to actually work on them. I’d urge you to change this. If you don’t use a calendar to schedule and organize your work, start doing that. Then schedule some time every week to SEO your sites and blog.

I can’t tell you how many clients have told me they wanted to work with me because I ranked so well for “adwords consultant”. In fact, for a while, my name was a suggestion when you typed “adwords consultant” into Google.

Get Clients From Conference Speaking

It’s not easy to get traction in the beginning, but it’s worth it. What establishes your expertise and authority more strongly than getting picked to speak at a conference? Obviously, the conference organizers believe you’re in the top group of experts, and that’s a third-party endorsement.

So how do you get to speak at conferences? First off, you have to keep track of them and then when they open up for panel idea submissions, send some ideas- this could help you get picked. When they open up for speaker submissions, send one in with your best bio that describes your platform and accomplishments. Conference organizers want to know that you know what you’re talking about and will give attendees good value. It’s easier when you have spoken before, so put down anywhere you’ve spoken, even if it’s not a search conference. In my opinion, even having gone to Toastmasters can help, because then they know you have some speaking abilities.

When you start speaking, you have to speak for free. I was very fortunate, and I’m grateful to Loren, Dave and Jordan with Blue Glass/SEJ for asking me to speak at Scary SEO in 2008. That and speaking about AdWords at SES took my career to another level. Having those on my resume helped me speak at Pubcon, SMX, Socialize and the AllFacebook Expo. They also ultimately helped me get a book deal. All of this builds your reputation over time and makes the next level of success possible.

Later, you start getting your travel and expenses paid for, and eventually you may get paid speaking gigs. Keep working on your platform and bio. These need to progress over time. If you aren’t rewriting your bio every three months, you may not be doing enough to build your platform.

Get Clients By Attending Conferences

When I first started in this industry, I went to several conferences as an attendee. This led to friendships and partnerships with some industry peers. I also tweeted with those peers, and those relationships were essential to growing in the industry. I interviewed some of them for blog posts and webinars. Some of them were SEO’s who gave me AdWords business. In fact, I got a client I was really excited to get to work with in 2011 from someone I met and hung out with at conferences in 2008. You never know when and how your industry friends might help you. As I say about social networking, the ROI is inestimable- in a good way!

Is it worth the fees and travel costs? In my experience, it is. You simply can’t assume you’ll make strong enough connections with people while sitting at home. If you do have good Twitter and FB friends, go to a conference with them, because then you create real friendships in person. I think somehow we compartmentalize our purely Internet relationships and they don’t impact us emotionally in the same way. If you’ve ever heard of that book Never Eat Alone, and you’ve lunched a lot with peers, you can attest from your own experience that the bonds created and the value of same are worth it. Besides, we need friends, and they need us. Stay human, oh Internet geek!

Get Clients From Blogging, Your Platform & Self-Promotion

What better way is there to establish expertise and get some attention to your services, than to write something attention-grabbing and authoritative? You can build up your own blog over time, guest post on established blogs, and even get regular gigs on big blogs. You must give valuable information for free in these posts, but it builds a platform. What’s a platform? Anyone who’s looked into writing a book for a conventional publisher or tried to get paid speaking gigs has run into this concept. Your platform is the sum of your brand, expertise, voice, reach, and influence. It includes things like:

  • Your blogs and blog posts
  • Your internet radio show
  • Your appearances on traditional radio
  • Your published books
  • Syndicated columns
  • Twitter followers
  • Facebook fans

How many unique people can you reach, and how often? A lot of these things are what we’d call credibility markers. If you’ve seen me around the internet, sometimes you see my photo above a list of well-known periodicals I’ve appeared in or been interviewed by:

Although the downside is that it looks unashamedly self-promoting, it has worked for me in terms of growing my business. One new business partner told me that he chose me precisely because those big names separated me from the competition.

If you want more business, you need to get over your worries about what peers will say about your marketing. The only people whose opinions matter are the ones that pay you or help you. The other people are just holding you back. There’s a story about crabs in a bucket that may or may not be true- I’ve never had a bunch of crabs in a bucket. But supposedly, at a certain point, there are enough of them in there that one could climb out, but the ones below them grab onto the top ones and pull them down. Don’t let your peers drag you down, or you’ll get stuck in a more or less unhappy situation with a lot of friends to commiserate with. Look at that word- commiserate- if you want to live in co-misery, go ahead. If you want to move ahead, you may have to promote yourself if no one else is promoting you.

Also, use blogging to interview others that you’re networking with. It’s a win-win-win, because you can get them some exposure while getting blog readers valuable information, and it gives you a great blog post. It builds your relationships, which can lead to all kinds of opportunities.

Get Clients With Social Networking

As I’ve mentioned before, combining this with face-to-face meetings is very worth it. I would say, on average, for every meet up or conference I’ve gone to, it has resulted in at least one client. Sometimes it creates relationships that lead to multiple clients from the same person. And I’ve passed clients to these people as well.

Form relationships with people who do what you do, and people who do other pieces of the Internet Marketing puzzle that you don’t do. Find friends that do web design and wordpress consulting, for example. Develop relationships with PR people. They respect and are mystified by your search marketing prowess, and their clients will need it at some point.

Go Forth And Grow Your Business

This blog post covers enough tactics to keep you busy for a year! Let me know how it works out for you. You can always contact me here.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

How To Get More SEO and AdWords Clients in 2011

Humor has always been part of my persona.  So, when I took my persona into the social media sphere, my sense of humor came along with me.

Social Media Humor isn’t just tweeting out the link to the latest @oatmeal comic (for that just shows how funny he is and that you’re at least bright enough to notice).  Rather, it is the ability to use a mix of commentary and content sharing to holistically develop a persona that will make people laugh even though many of the folks following you have no real-life reference point of you from which to draw from.  Many people who are funny in person are unable to bring that to the Internet…their humorous mannerisms and gestures are not available for use online.  However, if your personality tends towards the silly, the virtual medium presents an indefinite palate that, filtered through the joker’s prism, can tickle the funny bone of many (who by fact of being connected to you via social media, are more likely to respond in the manner intended).

These are the four funniest guys in my social media sphere IMO.

Brian Carter

Bio: CEO of FanReach, Brian Carter has been an Internet Marketer, speaker, and social media trainer since 1999. Brian has been quoted and profiled by Information Week, US News & World Report, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur Magazine. He has taught Facebook Real Estate Marketing, Business to Business Social Media and How to Get More Facebook Fans.

Brian works with Wynn Solutions to train businesses of all sizes – from small business to Fortune 500 – with onsite social networking workshops, and speaks regularly at conferences including PubCon and Socialize. Check out his his free Facebook Marketing 101 course, and the full FanReach Facebook Marketing and Advertising course. Brian is also available for Facebook and AdWords Consultant services .

How close to your real life persona is your social media persona?

I would say it is 95-99%. But the thing is that just as in real life, the closer you are to me, the more you see. The real question is: is this persona something you construct on purpose and distill down to its DNA so you can show it in brief to everyone everywhere, or is this persona like the elephant from that story where each blind man only experienced part of it and each thought it was a totally different animal? I’m one of those SEO guys that has a dozen sites about my businesses, so probably most people don’t see all of me. But that also allows me to get business for AdWords or Facebook marketing or training specifically, and then parlay that into other things. Sometimes I recommend a different service than what they came to me for, and sometimes I recommend my online training instead.

How has humor helped you connect with others via social media?

Networking with social media is similar to real world networking, in that you’re more successful at it if people like you. How do you become more likable? I’ve found that if you can make fun of yourself, people like you more. Also, I do a lot of work as the “expert” in something, and experts can be boring and intimidating. Humor makes my speaking and writing less boring and makes me less intimidating (I know, all 5 foot 6 intimidating inches of me). See what I did there? And you can make fun of other things too- it’s riskier to make fun of a client or student, but if you have enough real world experience, you can probably feel out the right circumstances for it. There’s no substitute for real world networking because that’s where you learn this stuff- you need to learn it where you can see people’s eyes and body language to know if you’re overstepping or not. But there’s always risk involved. Being funny is a risk. There are still times where I wonder if I went over the line and wait anxiously to hear back how they reacted.

What would you say to people who say that humor shouldn’t be part of a “professional” social media persona?

What I’ve learned is that most people want to know that I’m an expert, that I get results, that I care about helping them, and that I take my work seriously. I think starting off my professional persona with humor, as I did from 2007 to 2009 kept me from certain opportunities, although it helped a lot with speaking gigs. Enough people gave me feedback over the years to realize that there are people who don’t believe anyone that acts like a comedian can help you with real problems. I think when people are considering paying you a lot of money to help them with something they don’t totally understand (digital marketing), they have reasonable fears and anxieties. They want to have confidence in you and, unfortunately, comedy can be confusing to people at that stage.

But once you’re working with someone and getting results, a sense of humor can help a lot. You can diffuse tense situations and avoid misunderstandings. I’m not one who thinks you should keep a client beyond when you’re helpful to them, but I do think you can keep clients longer if you use humor appropriately.  And that’s a big corollary to all of this: if there’s hate or bitterness behind your humor, you’re fooling yourself. And before you try to be funny in a business setting, you should try to be funny at Toastmasters or a stand up open mike or an improv class (although in improv you shouldn’t TRY to be funny)- find out if you can do clean funny humor first.

So overall, I advocate layers- have a professional image, but use humor as a seasoning. The better you know someone and the more trust there is, the more humor you can use.

Jon Henshaw

Bio: Jon Henshaw has been wasting a significant part of his time on the Internet since 1995 and is currently the Co-Founder and Director of Product Innovation at Raven Internet Marketing Tools.

How close to your real life persona is your social media persona?

It depends on which persona you’re talking about. For example, if you’re talking about my personal Twitter persona, @henshaw, your question would be ridiculous. I in no way have lasers coming out of my nose and eyes, but I do have whiskers and enjoy being pet.

How has humor helped you connect with others via social media?

Expressing my humor via social media has been great for offending people. The unfortunate part of social media is that it’s void of intonations. People who don’t know you well can easily take your jokes the wrong way. My humor was stunted at age 15 (although some would argue 5) and has never matured. I enjoy just about any joke that’s raunchy, dark and just plain wrong, as long as it’s not mean spirited and is somewhat clever.

I think my humor has unintentionally helped me connect with others in a few ways. First, when I post something funny, my friends share it with their friends. Second, humor helps initiate a comment thread on Twitter or Facebook. Finally, I’ve recently found that I’m reaching people I didn’t even know I was reaching. When I go to social events, I usually have at least one person mention how funny they think my posts are. Thanks to that feedback, I’m now planning to add “humor guru” to my Twitter bio.

Pro Tip: Adding the word “guru” to your Twitter bio will increase the number of bots and douchebags following you by 100.

What would you say to people who say that humor shouldn’t be part of a “professional” social media persona?

I would talk about how nobody likes it when someone comes across as personable and funny, and that the best way to interact with people is to be as boring as possible. Then they would say, “But that’s not true Jon! Most people like friendly, funny people.” Then the most obvious fact in the world will dawn on them, and I’ll say, “Bam! You’ve just been paradoxically intervened!!!” And they’ll be like, “Huh?” And I’ll be like, “Nevermind.”

Aaron Chronister

Bio: I’m TheMadHat and full of it but at least I admit it. I primarily do SEM Consulting but am also an entrepreneur…strike that because I think that’s a ridiculous word. I like to call myself an executioner. Ready, Fire, Aim. Execute shit, don’t sit around and have meetings about your ideas because someone already has thought of it. I am the co-founder of BBQ Addicts, creators of the alarmingly healthy Bacon Explosion.

My most recent business venture I co-founded is Jukeboxx Media, a custom music management company based here in Kansas City (and no, I have absolutely no musical talent whatsoever, but I know how to plug shit in). I’m also screwing around with some other startups. And apparently I’ve got a sense of humor.

How close to your real life persona is your social media persona?

My real life and social media persona are pretty much identical. If you’ve met me you probably know that already. I’m blunt, honest, first to call bullshit (or in the mix with @sugarrae, @pearsonified, and a few others anyway). I have a long list of things people do that piss me off and I say so… in a humorous way of course. I don’t like selfish people, I hate tattle tales (not mentioning any names though Mr Fishki… oops), people that sell crap products just to exploit you and take your money. Most of what I say is for shits and giggles, but true. Some of what I say is just for shits and giggles, and I do it to some of my good friends too, but like me, they don’t take anything personally. For example, I’m always railing on Shoemonkey but he has a sense of humor and is a good guy. After I wrote that post he actually said he’d pay for me to make those shirts and pass them around at conferences. He knows good link bait when he sees it 🙂

My wife made me a shirt that says “Cute and Funny”… it probably should have said “Weird Looking and Fucking Hilarious”. If you can’t have fun in life, irregardless of the situation, then lighten up and have a beer or something. Or go smoke something and have a good laugh (yes, I said irregardless on purpose for those of you who don’t understand sarcasm, and no I don’t condone the use of mind altering illegal drugs). Macalen (my daughter), if you’re reading this I’ll thump your head if you actually take that seriously.

How has humor helped you connect with others via social media?

Humor and social media. If I had time, I’d do some kind of case study on level of humor correlated with number of followers and amount of engagement (actually Todd, since this is your post you should go ahead and do that). I already know what the results would be, but I’ll climb out on a limb and just tell you that it helps.  A lot. People can connect to someone with a sense of humor, and it helps you build trust because they know you’re sincere and a real person and not some robot peddling an e-book. I’ll prove that in the next question if you’re still that bored and reading this.

What would you say to people who say that humor shouldn’t be part of a “professional” social media persona?

People that say humor shouldn’t be a part of a “professional” social media persona should just go jump off a bridge (no, I don’t actually condone that either you nimrods). Go ask Jon Stewart what he thinks about that. Yes, he’s a comedian first but he also is a legitimate reporter and activist and I believe there was a poll that ranked The Daily Show as the most trusted news show on air. But that’s a bit off topic… let’s go with straight social media examples. Can you name any companies that have gained massive popularity and engagement by adding humor to their persona? I can. Take @woot for example. It’s a great business model but what makes it the best daily deal site is the injection of humor and personality. @zappos, @MoosejawMadness (one of my favorite places to buy gear) are other prime examples. Personality and humor have taken them a long way and they accomplished it very quickly.  (I’m using twitter in all of these examples, but their unique voice crosses over to their other SM channels).

Now for the disclaimer. I’m not saying it’s appropriate for every organization, and can certainly backfire. I don’t think the Red Cross should be sending out tweets making fun of other charities. Common sense people… I know it’s a difficult concept.

Now, look to your left and be a smart-ass to that person. Or go randomly pick someone on twitter and tell them to punch themselves in the face.

Ian Lurie

Bio: Ian Lurie is Chief Marketing Curmudgeon and President at Portent, an internet marketing company he started in 1995. Portent is a full-service internet marketing company whose services include SEO, SEM and strategic consulting. He started practicing SEO in 1997 and has been addicted ever since.

Ian rants and raves, with a little teaching mixed in, on his internet marketing blog, Conversation Marketing.   He also co-published the Web Marketing for Dummies All In One Desk Reference.   In it, he wrote the sections on SEO, blogging, social media and web analytics.

You may find him teaching his kids to play D & D on the weekends, or dragging his tongue on the ground as he pedals his way up Seattle’s ridiculously steep hills.

How close to your real life persona is your social media persona?

Disturbingly close. I’ve always dealt with life’s situations – good or bad – with humor. So it’s a natural way for me to communicate with others.

I tend to be more diplomatic in real life, where my main concern is not hurting folks’ feelings. I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings in social media, either, but I find that those conversations are ones where folks take what you say with a bit more of a grain of salt, so you can get away with more.

How has humor helped you connect with others via social media?

First, it’s a great teaching tool. People better remember lessons learned when those lessons evoke a strong emotional response.

Second, I think it disarms readers a little bit. I’ve had people tell me I’m intimidating in person and online (which is very hard to believe – I wish I was more intimidating back in middle school). A little humor – especially directed at myself – goes a long way.

Third, it makes me comfortable. I’m not the best in social situations, real or virtual. I have to get to know people first. Humor helps me over the initial conversational hump.

What would you say to people who say that humor shouldn’t be part of a “professional” social media persona?

You’re taking yourself too seriously. And you’re making a mistake thinking you can don a ‘separate’ persona for professional, online interaction. At some point, your real personality will slip out. If humor is part of that personality, why not have it there from the start?

Social media is communications. Communications is about effectively delivering a message. Humor is one of several great tools for that delivery. Why would you immediately remove a tool from your arsenal?

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

The Social Media Cut-ups

Can you imagine there being a change at Google that pre-dates Panda, (and subsequent incarnations) the +1 button, the attribution algo updates and few if any in the SEO world had noticed? I mean, it makes one helluva trivia question don’t it? Not as much fun as; What does Archie comics have to do with the early history of search. But it’s fascinating none-the-less.

Hey gang… long time no chat! Dave here… long lost SEJ writer and all around search geek. Can we talk or what?

February 17th 2011; the day it all changed

First off, those of you familiar with my ranting and ramblings on this topic, are excused. It’s unlikely we’ll be covering much new for my faithful SOSGs (no that’s not talking dirty, it’s; Seriously Obsessed Search Geek m’kay?). It simply needs to be repeated for a larger audience.

Those still wondering what this mad rambling Gypsy is on about, walk with me…

Over the years we’ve seen many changes to Google that had some interesting if not far reaching implications for the fastidious search optimizer. Odd, I’ve never optimized a search engine. What’s up with that? Anyway, getting lost again. We’ve had the rise of personalization (and general flux), the timeliness of the QDF (query deserves freshness), finding our way with deeper localization and general madness in what we call universal search. The list is ever-growing it seems over the last few years.

Many times during these evolutions SEO types weren’t always grasping the value right out of the gate. At least though there were some that caught it and generally some form of awareness within short order.

I mean, this is the group of folks that traditionally go a little mental each time there is a Google toob bar PageRank update… (like this);

bwaaha ha ha…. sigh… sorry, couldn’t help myself. Moving along.

What happened some 4 months ago, while extremely noteworthy, has gone almost entirely un-noticed or at very least, below the radar of those covering the industry.

The 2011 Google Social Search Update

For starters, is it unsurprising this went largely unnoticed? In retrospect, no. If we consider that back in 2008 we caught a glimpse of the Google social graph work and ultimately user profiling, which few seemed interested in, then no. If we consider the madness that ensues with shiny bobbles like the +1 button, then ok, yes… it does give one pause to say WTF?

And on a side note, some have suggested that SEOs like the thought of the +1 having ranking weight because…well… then they can manipulate it. Another story tho… we’ll get back to that.

Here’s the short version of what went down (Googly post here);

Ok, seems kinda unremarkable on the surface right? NOT. This is something fairly significant in the world of search.

Now, a few notes of interest;

  • Google accounts are on the rise (think Android)
  • It pulls from the social graph
  • It is another form of personalization
  • Does an end-around on problematic explicit feedback
  • Uses primary and secondary contacts
  • It re-ranks (search) listings

Catch that last one? It RE-RANKs the listings in the SERP. Anyone that’s been around long enough remembers how we drooled on the new short-cuts to the front page when various verticals gained prominence (aka universal SERPs). This is no different.

Look…. this is logged out;

Logged out social search

And this is logged in;

Logged In Social Search

WOW. We have a new way of ranking and SEOs aren’t talking about it? Did you know that there are a few thousand freaking articles on the +1 button (which doesn’t re-rank anything) but outside of ol Rand (who recently discovered it apparently) and yours truly (tho mine has been a little obsessive ROFL) there has been very little on this one?

Consulting the crystal ball

What I keep hearing is comments that Google accounts aren’t ubiquitous. Huh. Last I checked they’re on the rise thanks in part to Android users needing them and other services (think Google Plus as well). And really, the +1 works the same way. Strangely, I used to hear that as an argument about personalized search. Now? SEOs are not only grasping what personalization is doing to the industry, but in many circles getting frustrated with the flux it causes.

This is all about looking into the future. We are seeing (over the last few years) an evolution to search that will most certainly be around for years to come. It started with real-time search and has grown out of control since then. Google has had a stated goal of deeper personalization for many years. One of the problems has always been the inherent issues with implicit/explicit feedback.

The social graph is a VERY effective way to gain deeper personalization beyond the traditional signals and matches well with the way the web is growing. In short; it makes sense.

Regardless of how much value you see in it now, this is an important development at Google. Did you get spanked by the Panda? Then maybe paying closer attention to the evolution of search could have prevented it. Don’t drop the ball again.

Some food for thought

Ok, enough rambling. I simply wanted to abuse the hallowed halls of SEJ to try and get the word out one last time on this. A few thoughts before I go….

Consider if you will the improved click-through rates that not only the image gives, (to draw the eye) but that fact someone in your circle has recommended it

social search heatmap

They have a good grasp on you social circle (see here); they likely weren’t doing that just for fun right?

Google social graph

Google has long been interested in social profiling, known at the time as ‘friend rank’. The road map has been in front of us the entire time, if you’re looking.

Social profile

And what about the latest foray? Google Plus. It sure seems that what we’ve seen in the last few years is all moving in a concerted direction. I can see MANY ways that this social search update can play nicely with Google Plus. Consider the simple fact that Google Profiles are now wrapped up in Plus. I had originally lamented that they needed better management, which seems to be happening now.

Point being, this is a major vision of where search and social are likely headed. If you, like many, haven’t really been looking at this… it really is time that you did.

If you don’t…. you may find yourself left out of the loop in the real near future

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

Google Social Search; the Lost Update

Paul May co-founded BuzzStream, a CRM for link building and PR/social media that allows online marketers to manage relationships and be more effective in getting results, be they links or press. He gave me the following two-part interview about the software creation and startup process.

If you’ve ever been solicited to SEO a startup with a unique new product, you know that the project is futile or almost. The search volume doesn’t exist because the market doesn’t yet know to search for the product! So I was pretty curious how BuzzStream answered that problem. As someone looking to create a startup, it was also insightful hearing about their hiring priorities.

You can find part 2 of the interview on my blog, where we discuss their usability testing and Twitter auto-integration.

What was the need you identified when you first started BuzzStream?

The original idea came out of a problem that my co-founder, Jeremy Bencken, had when he was building his last company.
He built a very successful apartment hunting site called ApartmentRatings.com and all of his traffic came via organic search (mostly through long-tail, geographic terms).  After selling the business in 2007 and thinking about what problems he faced that were both the most challenging and built the core value of the business, he honed in on content promotion.

His team knew that building rankings was a function of attracting links, and content promotion was by far the most effective way they’d found to do this.  But they needed a high volume of quality links to move the needle, and their outreach efforts had to be highly relevant and personalized.  So the challenge was scaling content promotion efforts without sacrificing personalized, relationship-based outreach.

After trying spreadsheets and various general CRMs, Jeremy realized a glaring need in the market for specialized tools, which led to the initial idea for BuzzStream.

From there, we spent four months talking to customers to validate the need for these tools, and we came to the conclusion that this problem was actually part of a bigger trend developing in the market.

We believed that SEOs were going to need to focus more on quality links, which required more relationship-building and personalized engagement, and PR pros and social media marketers were going to need to focus more on scale (because media was being replaced by social media).

We felt that there was going to result in an increasing amount of overlap in the work required of PR pros, SEOs and social media marketers and, this was going to require tools to help coordinate and control content promotion efforts among teams.  So we saw a longer term opportunity there.

How has the vision evolved since then?

The overall vision hasn’t changed, but I would say that the “overlapping roles” trend emerged slower than I expected, but it’s pretty clear that we’re starting to see this now. You’re hearing more people talk about things like content marketing, content promotion, social SEO and SEO PR, which is a sign of this.

The Panda update and the high profile manual penalties (e.g., JC Penney) are contributing to this as well.

What is the greatest challenge you have marketing a first-of-its-nature product?

When you first launch, you have strong beliefs about how people will want to use your product, but there’s no market history to rely on for proof points.  So, what tends to happen is that you put the product out there and you get feedback from ten different groups that each have different use cases.

For example, one group may be using the product to coordinate efforts among a team and they really want collaboration features, while another is using the product to keep track of their backlinks and they really want link discovery features.  Synthesizing this feedback can be very challenging and has implications for all parts of your business – it impacts messaging, feature prioritization, marketing programs, etc.

What were the first two positions you hired for with BuzzStream? Why those 2?

Our first two full-time hires were both developers.  We hired developers for a simple reason…we didn’t feel like the market or our product were far enough along yet, so we didn’t want to focus our spend on sales and marketing yet.  We knew we had a lot to build and we felt like nothing was going to impact the company more than product in the early stages.

In hindsight, would you start with those two again?

I think it’s served us well, but I do think we should have been more active in the community early on.  I’ve been focused on two things almost exclusively: 1) calls with customers/prospects (to understand customer requirements and for sales purposes), and 2) product management.

This has been a very good thing, but I don’t think we’re as prominent in the community as we should be.  I don’t think I’d change the decision if I had the benefit of hindsight, but I might change our development focus to things that required less of my time, so that I could be more focused on conferences, social media engagement, etc.

Liked this? Get more in part 2 on usability and social media integrations, or visit BuzzStream and find out more.

Check out the SEO Tools guide at Search Engine Journal.

SEO Software Startup Story: How BuzzStream Link & Social CRM Came Into Being