WebMarCom Blog: Focus on Web Marketing Communications

3 Social Media Mistakes That Kill Linked-in Credibility

Posted by Jody Raines

iStock_000011089187XSmall(2)Social Media can make you rich!  If you had a dollar for every mistake that someone made using social media, you'd be a very wealthy person!  In the meantime, the catalyst for this post was an email that I received from someone I am not well acquainted with, but who asked to connect with me on Linkedin.

The letter began with, "Im sorry to bother you but..."

For the record, I really like Linked In.  It's a resume online and also a living Rolodex (yes, I am dating myself), but the cool thing is that it enables me to keep up with my professional network despite years and distance and career hops and leaps and changes.   I love the fact that each person updates their contact information so I can congratulate them on the promotions, or encourage them through the changes.   It's remarkable because it's a tool for business relationships, unlike Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Instagram.   In this respect, Linkedin is unique and I love that about this interface. 

1.LinkedIn is a BUSINESS Social network platform

So, my first gripe with new users is a big mistake of not understanding the nature of Linked-in as a business platform.  It's fine to connect with friends and expand your relationship to include business.  What is not fine is to undermine your professional account with a casual, non-business profile photo.  That means the picture of your beautiful dog or amazing cat will not do - unless you want to give the impression of being less than credible.  Also, the photo of you swinging a bat at the company softball game, not a good choice.  You should pic a photo of you playing baseball if you are a pro baseball player, otherwise, it's not the right image to project.   Leave the sweatshirts, tank tops, cocktail hour, family vacation shots on Facebook - this is not the place for them.  

2. Don't spam the Linked in Connections

My second gripe - ok, so we are connected.  Now is your chance!  Develop a social media relationship, right?  Send an email, get to know each other... or wait, try to sell me something?  What?   I don't really know you, I connected because perhaps we met at an event and had a nice conversation... the reality is that you don't know me, don't know my company and you are sending me the same template email you sent to everyone else.  Do you really think I am going to jump out of my seat now that I got your email and pick up the phone to buy what you are selling?  I don't think so.  In fact, most sales take place after you have developed a relationship.  Social media is "social" for a reason - to use it as a device to create more emails to send out letter to is a disservice to you, your organization and it's disrespectful of the connection.  If you use Linked in to attempt to sell to me, you risk being disconnected.  If I like you, I may reach out to you first, to try to explain why what you did was a bad idea... if that doesn't work,  will disconnect.  Part of the power of linkedin is the ability to potentially connect with the connections of the person  you are connected to.  Yes, that sounds complicated, but what it means is that my network is now open for  you to peruse.   Why would I open my network to someone who seems to be ignorant of the protocols?  I don't want to be associated with that behavior, nor would I do business with someone who utilizes a network that way, so it's not a loss to disconnect. 

3 Linkedin is about QUALITY not QUANTITY

My third gripe and a very common mistake, is the false belief that someone who has a lot of connections must be very important.  There are some people on Linkedin who will connect with anyone and everyone - this is called an "Open Networker"  To say that someone has the "most" connections on Linked in does not say the same thing as having the most relationships.  There is greater power in having relationships where you can ask or share or tell and it has some influence.  The relative amount of influence if directly correlated to the depth of the relationship and the mutual respect.  If I met you once at a networking event, and you immediately stared spamming my inbox, there is no mutual respect, no relationship, and no reason to continue to stay 'connected'. 

I suppose if you start an email with "I'm sorry to bother you, but..." you already know it's not a good idea to send the email, right? 

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What do you think?  Have you noticed these mistakes and do you agree they kill credibility?  Do  you have other pet peeves you'd like to share?  I'd love to hear about them... 

Topics: social network, linkedin, Social Media, linked in

Social Media Marketing And Your Online Brand

Posted by Jody Raines

Jody_Raines_-_Public_Relations_OfficerYour website is only a part of your online campaign for online branding. Granted,an optimized website is the most important component of your online marketing strategy, however even with the most glorious and well thought-out website, you may be missing huge opportunities to support your product, champion your brand and connect with your customers and prospects.

Social media marketing was a "buzzword" that we started to discuss a several years ago.   You may also have heard the terminology "new marketing" or "online marketing" or even "inbound marketing".  The concept is to create an optimized online presence to help your customers find you and your business.  A lot of the social media "guru' types talked about "engagement" and there was much nodding of heads.  But the reality is that there is very little engagement happening, even today, because so many companies have opted to run automated campaigns. 

I'm not against all automation, but it just does not work for every organization in every situation. Especially in times of high national tension, when the focus is on an earthquake or superstorm, having an automated message about sunny skies is a real disconnect with your audience. The worst thing you can to is have your customers disengage, opt out, and disconnect.   Now, those wonderful social channels have worked against you.

If I had to pick one word to describe the best practices for social media marketing, that word would be responsive.  Not only are we striving for responsive design in websites, but we also should be responsive to our audience and to the societal and cultural changes around us.  If you are responsive, you are creating content that is relevent and that has true appeal to your targeted customers.  

A responsive website is one that fluidly re-conforms to the device it is being viewed on.  Newer websites are being created that have this feature built in.  Some of the older websites have both a desktop version and a mobile version.  Without getting too technical, what you want to be sure to do is to present the version that is best viewed on the device that the viewer is using at the time they visit your site.  It makes perfect sense, right?  

One of my biggest frustrations is one of the news alert services that I use that sends me a link to an article that I want to read.  When I click on the link, I'm taken to a general page that may or may not contain the article.   Eventually, I stop clicking on the link and ignore the alert.  I may even unsubscribe from the alert.  This is no different than putting the wrong terminology or advertising or teaser to an article, then sending the reader to a site that is so general, they get turned off. Social media is an awesome tool to drive traffic to your site - just be sure that the link is truly the target of the tweet or Facebook post.  Otherwise, you will lose customers. 

When it comes to internet branding and social media optimization, the rules for marketing have changed, and without a social media presence, you will be a dinosaur.  Customers are searching and researcing using the Internet. There is an entire generation that is growing up in a world where using Google is second nature to find answers.  The changes that search engines have gone through are taken in stride, and adopted readily.   To be sure that your online brand is being appropriately represented in today's informational society means you have to be relevent and  you have to be present. That includes social media.   The old excuse that your customers don't use social media is becoming tired and inaccurate.  Your customers use social media, and they use it every day. They may be checking their email first thing in the morning, which includes their Facebook statuses and their friend's updates.  The way we communicate is much more fluid, more rapid and most likely, online. 

Be aware of derogatory messages about your brand and be responsive.   Don't hide from critical reviews, but address them with equally positive reviews from your customers.  

Social media marketing, is first social, second media, and third marketing.  Keeping this in perspective will go a long way to your successful online branding and internet marketing campaign.

 

 

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Topics: best practices internet marketing, best practices inbound marketing

Social Media Safety - Beware The Invitation To Connect

Posted by Jody Raines

istock_000021692588xsmallRecently I received an invitation to connect to someone on Facebook.  In and of itself, this is not an unusual occurance.  Since I co-host several podcasts, and am active on Social Media, there are often people asking to be 'friends' who I don't know personally, but this situation had my spidey senses tingling.  

When it comes to social media safety, it helps to be cautious and look for the red flags. 

There are some red flags that I noticed:

  1. The person's name was a "gag name".  Now this can happen, and may not be a total red flag, but if you receive a request from Seymore Bunns, or Anita Break you should most likely delve further into whether you truly want to accept this person among your connections.   In this case, the person's name was a page turner of sorts.
  2. The profile picture and background picture are not of the person.   Again, this may not be a true indicator that the person does not exist or is not real, however, if someone is trying to be overly clever and they faked the profile, then it's another way to detect a false profile. 
  3. The profile is relatively new.   If someone has a profile that was recently created and they have a ton of 'friends' then be cautious if you do not recognize the name.  

All three of these indicators were in place for this particular friend request, but... there was more.....

  1. All posts are memes and generic.  If there is no personal content, that's very odd.   Every now and then, most people will post a picture of something that they are doing, or something they are eating or even a picture of their dog.  If the only posts are third party shares, that's another suspicious characteristic. 
  2. The friends that you are also connected to are primarily from similar circles.  If you notice that the unknown person who wants to friend you is connected to several people from that same circle, you should be suspicious.   Ask your friends whether htey really know the person,or whether they friended them because others were connected.  If you have friends who are numbers people and really don't care who they accept, then it's important to discount their response to your inquiry.   
  3. Where it starts getting creepy is when the friend requester has many of your connections, but they are connected in ways that does not make sense.  For example, with this request, not only were they connected to a ton of people that I network with locally, they also were somehow connected to people that I went to High School with, and who do not live in the area.  The person also had connected to a guy I dated who now lives in another state.  The liklihood of someone knowing this same circle of people from very different points of my sphere is more like flashing beacons than red flags.   Just too much of a coincidence. 

How do you handle the situation?  I reached out to a few of my friends who were connected and asked whether they knew this perons or had met the person in real life.  No one actually remembers meeting her.   I think it's safe to say that in this instance, it's a nefarious purpose and therefore, I will not friend the person.

You may ask what difference this makes, and I will share with you a situation in my town where someone who had been allowed to connect started stalking and victimising females.   None of the young ladies who were victims actually knew the stalker, but had accepted the person because he was a friend of their friends.   

Be wary.  Be careful.  And do not post where you are going to be or what you are not going to be home. Don't indiscriminantly friend people without knowing who they are or investigating why they wish to friend you.   Sure, it may turn out to be fine, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

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Topics: social networking, social media safety

Social Media Safety - Beware The Invitation To Connect

Posted by Jody Raines

istock_000021692588xsmallRecently I received an invitation to connect to someone on Facebook.  In and of itself, this is not an unusual occurance.  Since I co-host several podcasts, and am active on Social Media, there are often people asking to be 'friends' who I don't know personally, but this situation had my spidey senses tingling.  

When it comes to social media safety, it helps to be cautious and look for the red flags. 

There are some red flags that I noticed:

  1. The person's name was a "gag name".  Now this can happen, and may not be a total red flag, but if you receive a request from Seymore Bunns, or Anita Break you should most likely delve further into whether you truly want to accept this person among your connections.   In this case, the person's name was a page turner of sorts.
  2. The profile picture and background picture are not of the person.   Again, this may not be a true indicator that the person does not exist or is not real, however, if someone is trying to be overly clever and they faked the profile, then it's another way to detect a false profile. 
  3. The profile is relatively new.   If someone has a profile that was recently created and they have a ton of 'friends' then be cautious if you do not recognize the name.  

All three of these indicators were in place for this particular friend request, but... there was more.....

  1. All posts are memes and generic.  If there is no personal content, that's very odd.   Every now and then, most people will post a picture of something that they are doing, or something they are eating or even a picture of their dog.  If the only posts are third party shares, that's another suspicious characteristic. 
  2. The friends that you are also connected to are primarily from similar circles.  If you notice that the unknown person who wants to friend you is connected to several people from that same circle, you should be suspicious.   Ask your friends whether htey really know the person,or whether they friended them because others were connected.  If you have friends who are numbers people and really don't care who they accept, then it's important to discount their response to your inquiry.   
  3. Where it starts getting creepy is when the friend requester has many of your connections, but they are connected in ways that does not make sense.  For example, with this request, not only were they connected to a ton of people that I network with locally, they also were somehow connected to people that I went to High School with, and who do not live in the area.  The person also had connected to a guy I dated who now lives in another state.  The liklihood of someone knowing this same circle of people from very different points of my sphere is more like flashing beacons than red flags.   Just too much of a coincidence. 

How do you handle the situation?  I reached out to a few of my friends who were connected and asked whether they knew this perons or had met the person in real life.  No one actually remembers meeting her.   I think it's safe to say that in this instance, it's a nefarious purpose and therefore, I will not friend the person.

You may ask what difference this makes, and I will share with you a situation in my town where someone who had been allowed to connect started stalking and victimising females.   None of the young ladies who were victims actually knew the stalker, but had accepted the person because he was a friend of their friends.   

Be wary.  Be careful.  And do not post where you are going to be or what you are not going to be home. Don't indiscriminantly friend people without knowing who they are or investigating why they wish to friend you.   Sure, it may turn out to be fine, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

learn social media marketing

Topics: social networking, social media safety

New Years Best Practices For Website Optimization - Thanks Google!

Posted by Jody Raines

Website Optimization BlueprintSEO is dead.  Long Live SEO.

Welcome to 2015!  SEO is a brave new skill, based upon the many changes of the last year in how Search Engines index and identify websites.  

In 2014 there were many changes to the algorithms that index and identify best websites for specific content.  In my opinion, the largest change was the introduction of Hummingbird, which made "semantic search" a household term for SEO savvy web developers.  Then there was the animal entourage, of Panda, Penguin and Pigeon, all of which stressed developing better content.  In addition, there was the slow and untimely death of authorship, which supposedly was helpful in identifying authority of authors.   

So in a nutshell, what is a Website developer to do?  I've identified website optimization best practices for "Google Love" to help clarify an approach to a healthy and happy 2015 for your website...

WEBSITE OPTIMIZATION BLUEPRINT:

1. DEVELOP CONTENT - Develop content on an ongoing basis, but not just any content will do.  If you previously had hired writes to create blog posts for you, you may have had the experience of posts that were 'optimized' for specific phrases, but then were penalized for word density.  The word of today is "semantic".  Google is interested in the intent behind the content, not just the words on the page.   Content must be original and rich - that is to say it should be well written and deep enough to share some information that is relevant to the topic.  Just using words that are 'keywords' is not enough -  they have to be used in a way that makes sense to humans, not just indexing.  

2. CONTENT THAT IS ORIGINAL AND RELEVANT - Timely and well written content will withstand the test of time.  If your content is relevant to your audience, it will be shared, and sharing through social channels is another way to have your site become more credible. and have higher authority with search engines.  

3. AVOID SPAMMY LINKS - Bad links are out, good links, as always are in.  Understanding the difference is important to the health of today's website... it's quality, not quantity that matters. Websites that have inbound links from formula sites may have a short burst in ranking, but these will be discovered and then penalized by Google.  

4. PAY ATTENTION TO SITE ARCHITECTURE - Sites that are not indexible will always be a problem for search engines. Obviously it's critical that your content is able to be 'read' by the spiders.   There are best practices that should be in place for building the website and these include the meta description, alt text, a single h1 on the page, slim files to improve load time, appropriate re-directs, submitting XML sitemap files, etc.  A good web developer uses best practices in every website, and on every page.  Having a page that lands on the default babble of the software that says "HELLO WORLD" is not a best practice.  

5. MAKE THE OFFER CLEAR - Often I'm asked to evaluate why a website is not working... Not working may mean it's getting a ton of traffic, however the traffic is not converting into sales.  That's where a marketer is different than a web developer.  Having a clear idea what the website is about makes sense, and yet, surprisingly there are a ton of websites that I see that obfuscate the message with clutter and trying to say too much at the same time.  I see the same thing when someone is blogging a lot, however the cute blog titles have nothing to do with the offer or the business, and therefore, will not help the search engines identify what the website is about.  Sometimes having a third party take a peek to see whether they "get it" when they read your copy is very helpful. 

If your website has a clear and relevant offer,  you have articles that appeal to your audience,  and you have clean, original, well-generated content, your site will rise to the top... Be the "cream of the crop", and you will rise to the top... and don't waste time worrying about the competition - let them worry about you!  

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Topics: effective website, search engine ranking, web marketing consultant, website conversions, best website design, google best practices, google optimization

Social Media Best Practices: How To Use Linkedin For Leads

Posted by Jody Raines

building linkedin networkRecently, several of my friends have requested some guidance with regard to using Linkedin for business development.  My concern was that Linkedin can be powerful when used correctly.  Linkedin can also be a force to demotivate sales and alienate potential customers. 

Social media, and particularly Linkedin, are networking tools that when applied correctly, can grow your business.   For some reason, the people who use it incorrectly will stop reading after this last sentence and go on to make the types of mistakes that have people opting out and disconnecting from them.   

Here are the three biggest Linkedin Mistakes that I see made over and over by sales and marketing pros who are too eager to "use" social media to generate leads.  Frankly, any of the following mistakes would result in not connecting, disconnecting or opting out. 

Three BIG Linkedin Mistakes:

First mistake - if you met someone at a networking event, chamber meeting, or family barbeque and you exchanged business cards that's not always the best way to add to your network. When you establish a rapport with someone, and you feel that you can confidently recomment their services or refer business to them, then you should add them to your network.  A great thing to do when you add someone is to mention how you met them or something from that conversation.  I cannot tell you the number of times I have not accepted a request to connect because I didn't remember whether I knew the person or how we met. 

Second mistake - if the person connects with you, please, do not send them a note immediately trying to share what you do and why they should work with you.  Unless that's continuing a conversation where the person indicated that they were interested, slamming someone that way will not endear you to the new connection. 

Third mistake - if you think it's cool to send your 'newsletter' or 'announcement' to all your contacts through Linkedin and that your going to get a ton of business that way, thing again. It's actually somewhat disrespectful to send a blanket email to your contacts that way.  No one wants to be addressed as "Dear Contact".  The power of Linkedin is that it gives you some great information, and you have the opportunity to make the connection more personal.

Best practices - Linkedin 

Here's a recipe to utilize the power of Linked in that can work for you. Let me know if you have other tips that work well, and we can share them. 

  1. Fill in your entire profile. Linkedin represents an opportunity to share your resume online.  Be complete and share relevant information that can be searched for keywords.  
  2. Use links to your website and change the description for SEO. The links in your profile use default descriptions for "my website" and "m y blog". You can change these to a phrase or company name for improved search engine optimization.
  3. Ask for Referrals.  If one of your contacts is connected to someone you would like to know, there is an appropriate way to request a referral.  Be sure to explain how you can HELP the recipient contact.  If you only want to connect to sell them something, or if you do not add value, you should re-think wasting your contact's time.  
  4. Connect with your former associates.  Think about high school or college - each of your friends there has gone on to different organizations or companies.  Adding them to your network can expand the strength of your network considerably.   People you used to work with, for example, most likely have moved on to other positions within other organizations.  Adding them to your network gives you the opportunity to connect with their connections or ask fro introductions...  Very powerful when used correctly!
  5. Join groups.  A little known feature of groups is that it adds the ability to connect with other members of the group.   If you want to meet people or add to your network, joining groups and participating in group discussions is a great way to get your name out there.   
  6. Ask questions.  Withing groups and within Linkedin, asking questions can help you to identify others who can utilize your services.  A well worded question can expose motivations and vulnerabilities that you have the ability to help with.   For example, a client who does vehicle wraps could ask a question regarding the top issues for wrapping a fleet of vehicles. If answered, the person has now identified the fact that they have a fleet of vehicles and that they are having a problem.  Based upon the problem, this could be an amazing prospect... Think about it! 
  7. Connect with other group members. Other group members have networks too - and their network could be greatly different than yours.  By connecting with others in your group, you now have new contacts that are just a couple of degrees of seperation from you, and those numbers increase algebraically. 
  8. Use Search to connect with company. If you use the search function within Linkedin, it helps you discover who, within your network, may be connected with someone at that company.  Try it - it's very cool!  
  9. Ask for introductions.  If you share how you can help the person you are requesting an introduction to, and if you have a good relationship with the person from whom you are requesting the introduction, this can be a powerful tool. 
  10. Post periodically.  Recently LinkedIn introducted the ability to have articles posted.  It's wonderful exposure - you never know who you may reach!  If your post is intelligent and has good content, you will get some attention.   
There are many new and exciting ways to utilize the power of LinkedIn for connecting and generating new leads.  What are some of the ways that you have had success?  Have  you tried any of these ideas?  What was the result? 
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Topics: linkedin, Social Media, linkedin contact, LinkedIn marketing, linkedin strategy, Lead generation

How Social Media Marketing Fueled The #IceBucketChallenge

Posted by Jody Raines

Viral Social Media CampaignHow do you raise over $100 million dollars with a bucket of ice and a smart phone?

This past summer, you had to live under a rock to miss the fundraising phenomena #IBC or #IceBucketChallenge that raised fundraising levels by over 3,700% for ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Whether you participated in the challenge or not, you have to admit that it was pretty effective at becoming a phenomena, increasing donations, and to some extent, improving awareness of ALS.


Was the challenge a success?

In terms of sheer participation and fundraising, yes. The purpose of this post is not to point out the percentage of the funds that actually went to research or not, but to simply identify the components that lead to its success to help non-profit and not-for-profit organizations consider similar tactics when contemplating their fundraising campaigns.


The challenge has been hailed as a social media phenomenon. The fact that ALS has become an afterthought adds some credibility to the theory that the same generation that has popularized the selfie has delighted in presenting itself as a heroic victim for a good cause… Even if they don’t know what the cause is, or where the money is going. It’s really more about the ice being poured over their head than the funds being raised.


Some of the reasons the ice bucket challenge became such a hit include:

  1. Narcissistic stroke to the ego. What’s better than posting pictures of yourself having fun? Posting pictures of yourself dumping cold water on your head, while tagging your friends and stating that you are doing something philanthropic. Sure, that moment of water cascading over your head may not be the most glamorous, but the fact that you did it, proves you are a ‘good’ person, right? 
  2. It’s for a “good cause”. It’s for a good cause. Many of the IBC’ers may not know much about ALS, or have any clue how the money they raise would be spent… they just knew it was for a ‘good cause’ so let the cold water and ice flow!
  3. Short, yet creative selfie. Yep, it’s a selfie. Some of the ways that people chose to have water dumped on their head proved their creativity. From a simple glass of cold water at an amusement park to having a helicopter dump cold water, it really didn’t matter as long as there was a person you know and some very cold water being video-taped then posted to the nearest social media channel.
  4. Power of geometric progression. Each challenger was tasked to come up with three people to challenge. As long as this progression continues, the speed and vitality of the campaign became explosive. 
  5. Elements of peer pressure. Your friend has publicly tagged you. You know your other friends have seen this too. Now the pressure begins. The desire to “look good” and “do good” are powerful – in fact, social media has the ability to influence our moods, as was demonstrated last summer by a Facebook experiment. http://www.medicaldaily.com/are-facebook-emotions-contagious-study-discovers-how-social-media-affects-our-mood-288372
  6. Cool factor – you‘ve been tagged. What’s neater than being personally identified by someone on a popular social platform? Hey, you must be cool too, then, right? 
  7. Wow, celebrities participated too. From Justin Bieber to Jimmy Fallon, Governor Chris Christie to former President, George Bush, everyone wanted to jump on the Ice Bucket Challenge hit parade. It’s fun to see our celebrity icons take a dunk, and the clamoring to outdo each other and then upping the stakes by naming other celebrities continued to ignite and fuel the viral nature of the campaign. No sooner did someone get tagged, but within a short period of time, their video hit the Internet, and the people they tagged were then challenged. 
  8. Simple, easy to duplicate. What could be simpler than dumping a bucket of ice water over one’s head? Not much – except maybe jumping matchsticks. The ease of duplication, including the script was part of the reason that every man and celebrity could participate. 
  9. Humorous, slapstick element. For some reason, we think its funny when someone trips and falls or has a bucket of ice water poured over their head. I’m not sure why this is, but it’s universal. I also never could understand the popularity of the Three Stooges, but slapstick seems to work in many instances, especially when it happens to your friends. 
  10. Not to be ignored social proof. Once you’ve been tagged its your turn. Not only do you tag the person who challenged you, you then tag others to make sure they see you, as well as tagging the people you’ve challenged. And since each person is supposed to tag three more (or more) the progression increases exponentially. 
  11. Video is fun. The visual of the ice bucket challenge is so much better than just listening to the audio! With video through mobile phones and ease of updating social media sites, video is a great tool to share the moment. 
  12. Effective use of social media. Utilizing multiple platforms in complementary ways, the #IBC was a great way to use cross-platform to optimize the campaign. Images and videos were posted on YouTube, and Facebook, made into Vines, Instagrammed, and even Pinned! For ALS it was a great way to gain exposure. 

Was the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge a success? In amount of money raised, there is no question, however it’s still open to conjecture whether the public was more enamored with images of pouring buckets of ice cold water over celebrities than with understanding what the charity was, or about the underlying premise. Whether it was ALS or another foundation was irrelevant in my opinion.

What do you think?  Was the #IBC a success?  Is it duplicatable?   And do you think it raised awareness for ALS, or was a self-contained viral social media marketing phenomena?

Topics: social media marketing, facebook, Social Media, viral marketing, Pinterest, youtube, instagram, vines, #SMEM

Do It Yourself Websites: Are They Effective?

Posted by Jody Raines

Do it yourself websiteA friend recently posted on Facebook that her new 'business website' has launched.  She proudly asked for all of her friends to come and visit and share what they thought.  The well-meaning friends who complimented her on the site fueled her enthusiastic response that she created the site herself using a free service.   She then offered to 'create' websites for her friends who may need a website as well. 

While well-intentioned and visible as a website, most small and micro businesses do not realize that there is a mountain of difference between having a website and having an effective website.  Even in discussions with clients, we run into discussions of what constitutes an effective website versus having a brochure online. 

If you simply want a place that you can point a prospect to by giving them the web address or URL, then by all means, save money and use a free service.   For the most part, getting a website as a DIY project will save you money, and possibly time if you are working with an inexperienced or slow web designer.  For many businesses who have gone the budget route, they have wound up with a site that was poorly thought through, has non indexible content and pages, and cannot be easily updated.  If you are hopeful to develop a clientele through prospects finding your website online, this is not likely to happen with a Do-it-yourself website.

The difference between a DIY website and one that is professionally produced are manifold.  For example, a web designer will help you determine the navigation for your website.  This is one of the most critical phases and will determine the "user interface" -  in other words, the way that a visitor to your website will navigate to find what they need. A good web design can help the visitor find what they are looking for in the least amount of clicks.   Web dev's understand that too many clicks will result in a lost opportunity, particularly if the individual cannot find the information they are seeking.

Another problem with DIY websites is that they are not created with an eye to optimizing load time and images.  Certainly pretty images look great, but if the image file is too large, it will increase load time, and if you've ever had to wait for a website to load,  you understand that most people won't!  Check your "bounce" rate using Google Analytics and you will see that there are some pages that have high bounce rates.  One reason could be that the page takes too long to load... Another reason is that the keywords that brought the reader to that page may be inconsistent with the content the prospect is seeking. 

One of the most frequent problems I see with DIY websites as well as with professionally created websites is the content.  Most businesses tend to think of their business in terms of the lines they offer.  Most customers think of the busines in terms of how it meets their needs.  The problem is when the website navigation is organized in terms that the business thinks makes sense, but becomes difficult to navigate and investigate when it comes to the customers needs.

A good example that comes to mind is a sign company that I worked with.  The owner of ths sign company was frustrated after working with many SEO companies, and spending a lot of money. His website was still buried and not coming up, plus his sales were not coming from the website.   We took a look at the site, and the HOME page was so broad and general that it really did not do a good job of presenting anything.  We discussed the types of businesses who are most profitable for him, and then reworked the navigation to appeal to the customer's perspective.   Upon re-launch of the site, he saw a huge improvement in inbound leads and business, and was so excited about the transformation of his online business that he became an "inbound marketing consultant" to help others learn what he felt was a winning strategy.

Another example is a small company that manufactures compartmentalized handbags.  The bags are geared towards two different markets - they are oversized and help to organize a lot of items, so they are great as a designer diaperbag, and they are also terrific for the working woman executive to carry a notebook or tablet and other office essentials in fashion.  The navigation did nothing to help these two audiences find the section that appealed to their needs because the navigation was organized by the colors of the product.  Since the product could be used differently regardless of the color, women executives may have been turned off by the diaperbag images, and the mommy buyers could not relate to the business photos.   The solution was to create a navigation that would divide the site by customer use and present the appropriate and compelling images and content for those audiences.  

If you've ever searched for Homemade Dog Food recipes you may have found this next example client.  When I first started talking with them, they had a website that was so technical I wasn't sure what they were trying to sell. It turns out it was a supplement and recipes for a feeding system if you wanted to make homemade dog food.  The product makes sense, but if you didn't know what it was, it would have been difficult to acertain from the picture of a beautiful clean kitchen.  The HOME page now features rotating graphics about the benefits of a great home-made diet from healthy glossy coats to renewed activity and vigor and directs prospects to free recipes that all explain the benefits of adding the nutrients in correct proportions... 

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If you are creating your own website, you may save a few bucks at the outset, but in the long run, if you are serious about your business, you will find that the value of having an inbound marketing professional's insights can make the difference between having a website and having an effective website.

Topics: conversions, effective websites, found on google, effective website, best website design

Why I Unsubscribed From Your Email Marketing Campaign

Posted by Jody Raines

smart email marketing campaignsEmail marketing can be powerful and effective.  It can bring prospects closer and nurture leads.  It can also be a deadly way to lose contacts and potential connections. 

Today I unsubscribed from an unsolicited email announcing a web-based radio show that for some reason I need to know about.  The announcement came from a person that I exchanged cards with at a networking function.  The announcement was all about him, and his new wonderful radio show - with no logical reason that I would want to listen to it.  In fact, it featured a big picture of him, right in the middle, and some jargon about when the show will be recorded.  

In addition, the email had a description that read something like "this is where you should describe your offer".   Seriously.  Not even changed.  

In today's digital marketing environment, that's just not good enough.  If you expect to be accepted as a professional business person, you need to realize that the name of the game in digital marketing is personalization.  It you are doing business the old way and sending out a blanket one-size-fits-all email to everyone, you are appealing to no one.  

This must be my day for unsubscribing because I also unsubscribed from a Linkedin contact who sent a blanket email to everyone she is connected with on Linkedin.  That's not the way connect, nor are Linkedin contacts supposed to be used for overt solicitation.   Frankly, this tells me a couple of things; one is that the person just does not understand why we connected, and two that I am not important to the person who sent these. 

If you treat your connections indiscriminately, you deserver to have them disconnect from you.  The first step is to opt out of your email blast.  Too many opt outs, and you will begin to see that the mail services are not going to like handling your outbound email campaigns.  In fact, you may wind up being booted.

Ever try to put together a program to increase your subscribers?  It's not that easy.  So, when you have a connection or you have a subscriber, treat them like gold.

Here's a few rules to review before you send that next blast:

  1. Does the recipient want to recieve the information?  If you met at a networking event and exchanging cards is the sole basis for sending th email, you haven't earned the right to include that email on your sending list.  Before including them, send a special PERSONALISED email that reminds the person of how you met and explains the type of email you will be sending and ASKS if the person would like to recieve these types of emails.  Better yet, give them a choice of topics and let them pick the topics that would be best for their needs. This means that your emails will be much more targed and less likely to be reported as SPAM.   (This is called "opting in").
  2. Is the email targeted content, or is it a broad announcement all about you?  By targeted, what I mean is that the information contained is applicable to the industry, to the role, or in some way could be construed to be focused on the need of the person who is receiving it.  Just to send out a blast all about you is really as dull as dating someone who only wants to talk about himself.  Really dull.  Don't expect a second date and don't expect that the recipient is actually going to read your pablum!
  3. Have you completely filled in the template and tested it? Twice!  The worst thing is to have an email blast go to your most treasured list of prospects and have it undermine your professionalism because it has a section that's "greeked in".  Wow.   I see this sometimes on website as well, where its funny text that is supposed to be replaced. Why should I spend my time reading it if you didn't spend the time to put it together correctly.  Send it to yourself.  Send it to someone else.  Make sure it's correct.  
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Topics: email marketing, email campaign, opt in, opt out, social media marketing

Jody Raines - The True Story

Posted by Jody Raines

describe the imageJody Raines. That's me.  The reason I am writing this blog article is simple. I want people to find me, and know who I am and what I do.   It's funny that one of the least recognized things that we try to rank for are the principals of our organization.  If someone is searching for your President, your CEO, you Board Of Directors, what will they find? 

My recommendation is to truly evaluate what you want people to find when they search for your organization.  Sometimes they may have met a representative at a trade show, or a Chamber of Commerce meeting, but if they try to find that person online, will they find you? 

Not only should you make a list of the many ways you hope that your prospects will find you, but also to create a blog where you write about them, and then be sure to monitor them as well. That's what we used to call keywords, but with semantic search, being a subject matter expert is really more important than the old SEO tactics of defining keywords and then creating content.  

The best content is original, shares relevant information, and is helpful.  After all, if you areJody Raines, harley just writing for the sake of writing, how much will that really help your prospect.  May as well just give them a link to your competition.

How do you monitor your brand?

One way to determine what is being said about you is to schedule Google Alerts.  This is an easy thing to do, but if you don't have a way to monitor your name, it may wind up that things are being posted that you are unaware of. For example, what would you want to thank someone who wrote a wonderful article that mentions you?  Of course you would.  Also, wouldn't you want to know if someone was saying something derogatory about you, or your organization?  Only by knowing what is said and monitoring it on an ongoing basis are you able to determine what the value of your marketing efforts may be. 

Jody Raines, Marketing ExpertWhen evaluating information that you discover online, be sure to evaluate the source.  Most people recognize that there is a big difference between Encyclopedia Brittanica and Wikipedia.  The first is an authoritative source with vetted information, the latter is a compiliation from multiple sources that may or may not be reliable. 

Since Google introduced Hummingbird, it's enabled the more credible sources to improve their standing.  The goal is for black hat marketers to be left in the dust, and to have the true, and credible source rise to the top.

Who is Jody Raines? 

So, when you ask who Jody Raines is, I think I would be a credible source since I am JodyJody Raines, Speaker, Social Media Raines. I founded WebMarCom in 2009 in to help businesses use the Internet more effectively.  The old ways of marketing didn't seem to work as well, and as the Internet blossomed, the way we search and research became more and more important.    The concept of Inbound Marketing resonated with me.  New media and traditional marketing were beginning to overlap more and more, and I was well positioned to see this happen.  With a background in traditional marketing and management (double major, Bachelor of Science from Rider University), plus Masters degree (MBA) first attending Fairleigh Dickenson, then University of Phoenix (MBA in Technology Management) coupled with work experience at notable companies including Canon USA, Oki Data America, and The Rouse Company, Homart Development and Sears Financial Group, and Macy's, I've had ample opportunity to practice what I preach.  Then, working with one of the foremost web companies in the Philadelphia, South Jersey area, I learned more about the power of the Internet and how a well designed website should work.   Coupling the tools of the Internet, including searchable and indexible websites, Social media marketing, and search engine optimization through strong, well written and informative content, I've been able to help companies large and small to improve their bottom line.  

Generating leads through being discovered when your customer is looking for what you do is the first tenant of inbound marketing.  Not every marketer has the background to help a company determine the appropriate marketing goals.  What is most edifying to me has been to be a trusted resource and guide, helping as a partner to improve the messaging and the content. 

How Does Jody Raines Help With Business Marketing?

Some of the greatest adventures have been identifying niche markets that a client did not recognize, then helping them to position their offer.  An example is an organization that thought it was a wood refinishing company that also reupholsters.  Now they are getting business from movie theater seating repair, office furniture maintenance, elevator cabinet refinishing, restaurant furniture restoration, and the list goes on.  Or another situation where a business that did printing and marketing now is positioned for direct mail communications for each of several clearly identified vertical markets, in real estate, finance, and healthcare.   Another example is a sign company who expressed frustration that they were not coming up for searched for vehicle wraps.  Based upon working with the owner and his company, he reorganized his business, we revised his website, and now he is even helping other small businesses by coaching them on the types of marketing strategies I helped him with. 

So, if you want to know who Jody Raines is, come to the source and I'm happy to fill you in. And in the mean time, be sure to identify who your principals are for your company and be sure that you are generating content either about them, or under their byline and protect their brand.

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Topics: brand, Jody Raines, inbound marketing, Internet marketing