Archive for the 'SEO/SEM' Category



In social media, cluttering the space, confuses the topic

I’m the biggest proponent of social media that you could possibly find but I am also the one that told my daughter that she doesn’t need Facebook. She’s 14. I also told a group of 400 parents and educators that anyone under the age of 16 doesn’t need to be on a social network. I got a standing ovation for that one. I didn’t get a standing O from my daughter however.

On the one hand I will tell a company that they are missing the boat because they are neither a social brand nor a social business, so they better get with it. On the other, I will flat out tell some people and some companies that they have no business playing in the social space. Why the flip-flop?

You’re going to roll your eyes when you read this next line, but hear me out. When social media first came on the scene-it was about the conversation. But what happened next was that companies and developers smelled blood in the water. They saw that we liked conversations and connections. Soon we were offered multiple sites, multiple touchpoints and multiple opportunities to have conversations. However, a lot of us, no, the majority of us, don’t need to be having conversations 24/7/365. But what happened? Start-ups and new companies have flooded and have inundated us with so many social applications and sites, that they have confused the basic premise of what made social great in the very beginning.

It’s not just about building and maintaining connections. It may have been initially, but not any more. And thus…we don’t need another social network. We need to develop the one’s we’re in. At this point, it’s no longer about growth and it’s all about engagement. Sometimes when I see another “new” social app or site that is claiming that it will simplify or aggregate my confusing and complex social life, I roll my eyes. Why? They’re not making things easier, they’re forcing me to a) Look at and evaluate ( which I invariably do) another vendor/application b) Decide whether the current sites and apps I use now are still effective c) reconsider my loyalty d) disrupt the flow of my social engagements.

Perhaps that’s why the social landscape changes so rapidly. Developers are constantly rolling out bright new shiny things that they think we’ll need or that they think will make our lives easier, more productive, more connected. Or does it? I’m sure there’s over a 1000  social apps or more that I currently do not have on my phone or desktop that could make my social engagements better. But really? Better? Or just more cluttered and confusing?

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Moving without the ball: On Basketball and Digital Marketing

In the game of basketball there’s something that really can separate the good players from the average players. A lot of  players do not do it and yet they would be better served and more successful if they did do it. It’s fundamental to the game and yet a lot of coaches do not coach it or preach it. I’m not going to tell you what it is yet.

In digital marketing, social media marketing and any type of integrated marketing communications plan, we can create a strategy, design the tactics to use for that strategy and then we can implement. Then we wait. We measure. We tweak and we rework, redesign and we retrench if necessary. But if instead of waiting for things to happen. What if we made things happen? What if we created opportunities for ourselves?

Remember the movie Field of Dreams and the famous line, “If you build it, they will come”? In marketing, especially in the web world, there’s a sense that all we have to do is create a website, add that transactional back-end, create a Facebook page, a Twitter handle, and a blog site-and they will come. When what is really necessary is a lot of OFF page SEO work, a lot of content creation, content curation, and content consumption and commenting. You have to be proactive in this new digital paradigm. You can’t wait for it to happen or you’re done.

Back to the hoops analogy

In basketball, the more you stand around and watch, the less you are part of the action and the game. If you expect to get the ball passed to you on the wing just because you happen to be standing there, well it’s not going to happen. The defender is not fooled and you’re less of a threat because he doesn’t have to worry about you, he can see you. He can literally defend the basket and you at the same time because you’re not doing anything.

If you move without the ball, then you create more opportunities for you to get the ball, to score and to win. If no one moves-you don’t win. Simple as that. In digital, if you want to just build stuff and wait for people to find you-you won’t win. Simple as that.

Information versus Opinion and Search versus Social

Information versus opinion. Whats the difference? Is there one? What matters to you when you are on the verge of buying something? What is your go to process for vetting a new product, service, or company? Does the process change depending on the type of purchase?  So here’s the scenario, I want to buy a new big screen TV. So I do research. My research consists of what?

A) Typing in “big screen TV’s in Google

B) Typing in a specific brand into Google

C) Going into a social network and letting 500 of my most intimate friends know that I’m thinking of buying a TV

D) Going to Yelp

E) Going to Google and typing in “product review sites” into the search box because Yelp didn’t work.

F) Going into a forum and looking up the product name to see what others have to say

G) Asking my neighbor, my co-worker, my college roommate, or the father of my son’s best friend.

H) All of the above

Some of you probably would do all of the above. I see a problem with every single option above with the exception of option G. Here’s why.

Option A)  is probably the most confusing. Why? Simply because a lot of consumers do not know what types of web results they are looking at. They don’t understand what can be bought, i.e. PPC versus a gamed organic result. Either way, the consumer may be in for a lot of hard work trying to find some information-thus this may be a case where they decide to forgo doing research and just go straight to Best Buy and get the deal.

B) Typing in a brand name lends itself to resellers bombarding you with “their” deal. At the least, when has doing research on a brand lent itself to a highly ranked result of a brand reporting that it’s product sucks? Not going to happen? So the results will always positively skew in their favor.

Option C)  has some potential just because more and more consumers are turning to social media for help with purchase decisions. According to Cone Inc.’s recent research,  consumers are seeking out product information and reviews; they’re interested in both the good and the bad since 80 percent of respondents look at negative comments and 87 percent of respondents look at positive comments with the biggest growth area for purchasing decision information being blogs. The only problem? Blogs can be gamed.

D) Let’s say I never went to Yelp before, my first thought is “Oh cool, this is handy”. Next thing I know, its been 2 hours and I have not been doing any research and I realize that Yelp is not the site for product research.

E) My first thought is, do I really want to go down this path?

F) This one has potential, provided the forum that I use has people in it that are genuine and are not cloaking themselves as regular people, but really are trying to promote their product. Don’t think that happens? Think again.

Option G) Probably my best bet, at least I get a real answer. Funny thing is, it’s not a web based derived result and decision, though the process of purchase may actually happen through the web. But then when I know what I want, finding it at the best price, is completely different than deciding what’s is the best performing brand . See the challenge foe the brand?

Look at how brands  have to compete and win against you, your friends and relatives, against gamed search, gamed social and everything else, in just trying to get a message out that says, “Hey our product is good trust us”-

Even better, the company that says “Hey our product is good, but don’t just trust us, trust the people thst bought from us-That’s the gold! But the larger question is how can a brand simplify the process of aligning it’s existing customers with potential new customers while still trying to maintain some type of objectivity thats not clouded by reward systems and incentives? Tough to do isn’t it? Are we now on the precipice of the Infopinion?

Avoid Managing the Minutiae of Social and Search

Remember all of the Rocky movies with Sylvester Stallone? How could you not? He only made 6 of them. In the very first movie, Mickey, Rocky’s crusty trainer played by Burgess Meredith, had a couple lines in the movie that I will never forget. Some of which seem to be appropos for two reasons. One, they apply to the worlds of search and social and two, they just makse sense from a business standpoint.  But beyond the lessons that we can learn from Mickey-the real lesson is in the title of this post. But first let’s look at one of those lines and see what “the Mick” has to say. 

#1 Mickey constantly is telling Rocky to “Stick and Move”

Mickey wanted Rocky to “stick and move”  because essentially Rocky was too slow to stand in front of someone and go toe to toe with them. Sticking and moving is a method involving landing  jabs, while backing away without giving his opponent, Apollo Creed, an opportunity to launch a barrage of shots to Rocky’s head. Apparently Rocky did not heed that advice as well as Mickey wanted him to. 

In search and in social, there are so many moving parts that it’s easy to become stuck in doing one thing and one thing well or badly for that matter. Call it Myopic or blinded by focus, while not necessarily a bad thing in search and social, there are just too many moving parts. It’s better, or I should say tantamount, that you understand how search can makes a good social strategy better and vice versa, but all the while not becoming bogged down in the 101 type of activities that alot of people tend to hover on. Stay high level and keep moving; and yes I know it is the little things, but in this case, it’s about moving and being effective and the bigger picture.

For instance in search, there’s the whole aspect of campaign planning, or the strategy itself before you even launch or relaunch. There is creating search programs just for branding purposes. There is SEO, both on-page and off page for main sites and micro-sites. There is PPC, there is mobile, local, and of course the whole analytics side of it all. The point being that all of these can be managed separately and or they can be managed as channels that contribute to or funnel into the bigger picture. It’s a huge task and yet one that is best managed by sticking and moving. 

The key here is to attack and address all of these and see where they fit or fall within your organization, but not get caught up in the minutiae of managing them. Now some companies, the smaller ones, can get away with just doing some of the above mentioned tasks and not doing others, and I might add, doing it well, but larger ones at the enterprise level cannot. If we’re to understand that all of these components contribute to greater profits for a company, think how social now is playing into all of them. Social has virtually the same amount of moving parts.

In social you have to have the ability to create and manage a strategy, understand and manage social analytics, create blogs, wikis, microblogs, manage profiles and activity feeds, create and manage communties, create tags, create and manage campaigns and then rinse and repeat. Very similar to search, and yet, both very complimentary as well. The scary part? All of this can be done at both the enterprise level and the SMB level.

The common themes? A couple of them. One is the digital consumer. Another is the digital vendor. and still another are the digital expectations of and aspirations of both. Another, is how extremely well search and social play together. And still the last 2 themes? One is how important it is to stick and move in managing both search and social concurrently-especially in todays rapidly changing digital world and the other? Don’t get caught up in the minutae of managing both search and social- they are large, fluid, everchanging monoliths. “Stick and move Rock, Stick and move”.

The secret sauce of social is selfishness-and that’s not a bad thing

Excuse me while I say the following: If  it wasn’t for social media, you wouldn’t be anywhere near where you are right now in your career. To put it more succinctly, social media has made a lot of you. Yes I know that’s like saying if it wasn’t for the internet Bill Gates wouldn’t be anything but another coder, but let me back up. You see, for a lot of us, and notice I said us, social media added that missing layer. That missing dimension, that lens  into our personal, private and public lives.

Social is the accelerant.

In a way, using social is very much like wining and dining to get what we need.  For some, utilizing social media to “court” others and market ourselves, is the same as drug reps taking doctors on ski trips to “earn” their business.  Or going out on a date where we both talk about ourselves. It’s an interview. It’s the handshake and the introduction. Social is the empty seat next to you on an airplane that soon will be occupied by someone you can talk to for 3 hours. Or not. The potential is there should you choose to engage. The seat is the tool or the platform for discussion..

People have been using each other for centuries. In social media, the same holds true. People are using each other because they’re seeing that our social selves  can be so easily intertwined into our ability to create, and curate; and yet it’s also dependent on consumption, its dependent on sharing, dependent on broadcasting the message, the message that is you and me. Some of you may or may not know this but we are feeding off of each other. We’re sitting across from each other on that plane and we both have the same opportunity to talk to each other and take it to another level.

Without those elements, you are nothing but a product of what we were prior to the boom of the internet- a product of the 80’s and early 90’s. You are static. Social has added flash to your being. It’s added substance to who you are or… who you want to be, should you so choose.

It starts with Linkedin

Think about this.  Linkedin is and became one of the initial gateways into people’s lives; and for a lot of people, who were never into that “social thing”, and who are still not that social, Linkedin is their gateway into social media.  In fact, if we go by the 90-9-1 model, Linkedin might be as social as some people will ever get! But at the end of the day, is Linkedin a social network? Perhaps. It has elements of social. But what Linkedin really is, is it’s our vetting tool. It’s  our way to learn more about others, and have others learn more about us. But really it may have evolved with Linkedin, but it started with blogging.

Bloggers were considered outlaws

Social has a quid pro quo nature to it. In fact, today’s social elements were born out of the early days of blogging which were veiled in a sensibility of  “us versus them”  camaraderie. Essentially it boiled down to a  “if you show me yours I’ll show you mine” mentality of reading, commenting, and sharing each others blogs. It was almost the manual defacto way that you grew your readership. But it also allowed us to show each other and others our many layers in ways in which we never were able to before.

Blogs allowed us and allow us to say whatever we wanted when we wanted, and we used each other, and then we used someone else, and they used us too-and we let them, if it grew our readers. It’s how blogging works.  Funny but in the non-blogging world, we indirectly and directly use each other every day by associating ourselves with new people and entities that we think can help us get where we want to go. It’s not sacrilege to say this but people use each other all the time; but it might be sacrilege to say this though…Using each other is the nature of social media.

We call it social media but it could easily be called useful media.

Social has added that dimension of vetting the who, search added the dimension of vetting the what. Yet we still have to work, we still have to pay our bills, and eat, drive, sleep and do that daily mundane life stuff; because the  human element still weaves its way through all of that offline stuff. The new difference is, social media is adding that dynamic layer of personal utility. It’s adding the layer of creating who we are, so that someone might see who we are. Social is selfish. It helps us. It connects us. And that’s not a bad thing, it’s more just the reality of where we are going.

It’s the little things

Why do we work? Why do we smile? Why do we cry? Why do we wake up every day? I found this “card” in a pile of papers on my desk…

Apparently, the things that matter are the dog getting walked and winning a baseball game.  Actually the things that matter is the little critter that made this card.

14 Guiding Principles of Social Media

I live in Florida and hard times are visible everywhere. I’ve seen businesses open with promise and flair only to close within a year with nary a sound and barely an announcement. This extends to the houses in my neighborhood, the families that occupied them, and the jobs that the people who lived in them once had. All Gone. Empty. It sucks.

I know some of these families. We were almost one of those families. And because of that, because I know where I once was and because I know where I could be, I have a respect, an  empathy and an acknowledgment of people’s situations, of their plights.  These are still sucky, hard times for a lot of families and thus when I see some of the Dad’s at various functions around town-usually our kid’s games of some sort, I try to help in as many ways that I can but also being respectful of their situation. Oddly, I try to tell them what social media can do for them and what it did for me.

It sounds corny but it’s true.

Social media altered the course of my career. It was somewhere between 2005 and 2006 but that’s when I really started to “understand” the power of the possibility with social. I know things are much different now and the space may appear to be crowded and overrun but the principles still exist.  It is by no means a silver bullet but social can help someone create that picture of who and what they are. It also can help define where you want to go. I could fill up pages with stories and instances of where I personally benefited from the impact of social media-and I want to pay that forward. It starts with these principles that are derived from the positive impact of social media. Now I know they may seem high level but they are absolutely concrete.

The 14 guiding principles of social media.

1) Everything that you do online has some relationship to search either directly or indirectly. Always know this.

2) Understand that you can leverage search in your favor-but so can your detractors

3) Social Media loves search-your footprint is permanent

4) People have an innate curiosity about you-including those you went to kindergarten with and your current employer

5) You can create and control your online  presence instantly, but it takes longer to remove it, if at all

6) You can socialize that online presence instantly

7) You can manage and curate that online presence in real time and any time

8. You can find your tribe easier than ever before-what happens after that, is up to you, and sometimes up to them

9) Social is free. The investment is in your time, understanding and commitment.

10) You can connect with virtually anyone, anywhere and at anytime-but respect that power

11) Social requires  that you are upfront, honest and genuine-If you find that hard to do, reexamine your motives.

12) You can’t wait for it to happen, you have to make it happen-sounds a lot like life doesn’t it?

13) It can be life altering in both good ways and in bad

14) Realtionships matter-take time to develop them and make them Real

I’m sure if I went back over my past 800 plus posts, I may have written similar posts about principles, tenets, beliefs or rules of social, but right now at this moment, these 14 principles are holding fast from my perspective of what social is and what you can make of it if you understand what is at it’s core.. Care to add to it?

Social Media Specialists Are No Longer Needed

If you’ve been in this business for any length of time, then its time to take your collective aggregate knowledge of social media and add it to the overall mix of what you know and do. We’re at least five years in and I want you to quit being a social media specialist, because you aren’t one any longer. Simply put, and I’ve written about this at various points in the past, we’re all becoming social media generalists.

I used to be  an SEO specialist until  what I did just became a small  part of the daily mix of things that I did for our clients. There was also a time where I used to do nothing but manage PPC campaigns until it just became part of each clients overall web marketing strategy.

We all did something before social media

We all could mildly claim that we are or were bloggers at one point in time, except that it’s now merely part of what we do for our clients and respective companies. Same with video/vlogging, same with social media optimization, same with email marketing, same with creating websites, designing logos, writing copy, and creating tag lines; at one point in time it was unique and special but now-it’s just a sum total part of the collective us. We’re pulling from our collective experiences now. It’s natural and expected.

By now social should be a small part of what you do, but not all of what you do- At least for some of you. In fact, and I know a lot of you who fall into this category, there was a time where you owned social media and no one else could touch you. You were oracles of the social media soundbite.  Not anymore, social media knowledge bearers and practitioners are multiplying like rabbits and they know the game just as well as you do except…

You still have an advantage...

When I first got started in social it was for reputation management purposes and even then it wasn’t as much about the conversation as it was about understanding social media and its relationship to search… or I should say a blogs relationship to search (Facebook and Twitter weren’t even part of the conversation yet) Back then, a lot of you SEO’ers were merely concerned or wondering how to hyperlink signatures with keywords-I know that’s what I did, but then I evolved and so did you. Case in point.  I can bet all of you who have had a blog longer than a year can now spot a noob to the blog scene. How? When you get comment spam from people who insist on hyperlinking their generic, lame, weak, comment to a no-follow keyword based signature, you know… and you ask “Did they really just do that”? You’ve evolved.

Let’s digress

Things are changing. skill sets are changing- for example, if you are a PR practitioner, when did it become imperative that you understood how to not only write for your client, but also how to write for search? Or where the title of the promo piece was as important as the content contained within? Or better yet, when was it asked of PR practitioners that they had to understand the value of making connections with people in social networks? or starting blogger outreach campaigns? The PR person of today has many skills across multiple disciplines. They have to have them to survive.

Things change, people learn and skills evolve.

For Marcom people adding social to the mix is just another in the long list of things that are now just part of the job description. Yes we all still have to deal with the pretenders in the space, the snake oil salesman if you will, but for a lot of us, social is just part of the mix now. There was a time where I hated hearing the comment, “Yea but there is no ROI in social”; Now? I love to hear that comment so that I can fire both barrels of justification back at them. I’ve evolved and so have you. Marcom people need to know social, marketing, writing, PR, email marketing, advertising and design. Do they have to have deep knowledge? No, but give me breadth if I can’t have depth.

The next act

You see for a lot of you, your baseline level of knowledge in social now sets you up for what’s next. For those of you with an agency background, social is now just a part of what one does when creating a campaign. In some cases it’s the cornerstone, in others, it augments. Same with design. It’s a given that sites will have social components now-The hard part used to be finding people who could carry out the idealistic social initiatives aligned with the campaign, not any more. The troops are waiting for their marching orders.

Now social media failure isn’t so much based on the unknown or the person with a lack of knowledge, as much as it is based on a weak strategy, poor management, the wrong KPI’s or bad tactics. For a lot of you, you are the ones that will lead the charge into the new era of well rounded, seasoned generalists with skill sets that cover, tech, social, marketing, pr, and web. That’s the person I want and that’s the person that brands need.

Search Results and Quality Content is an Oxymoron

Like it or not we are a search driven society. Thus this post could have easily been titled, “Content for content’s sake” or “Crappy content for search engines”, or “The difference between worthless content and worthy content”. The point being that in today’s hyper mobile, hyper-consumption, media driven society-we search for the information that we need right now without thinking that maybe what we’re looking at is not nearly the “best” information.

The reason? We see the information that we see first and has ranked well and assume it is the best. Unbeknownst to most of us is the fact that we’re getting played because someone knows how to play the game of driving eyeballs to a site that isn’t about quality content as much as it is about trying to get you to click on Google adsense boxes.

And that my friends is the problem-at least for the majority of us. Unfortunately we have quite a few lazy, dubious, web marketers who understand that if they have a choice of either writing for search or writing for the public, they are going to opt for search, and the public be damned. The reason? The game is all about getting ranked quickly on page one and that means inbound links, page rank, lots of keywords, and a site’s relationship with other sites… and maybe not so much about content quality.

Good content takes time. Good content that we may value, may take even longer to produce and in some cases may take longer to find. Why? If the person who has authored it has not written equally for search engines as well as for their audience, and if it doesn’t possess the “right” linkage and properties that meet Google’s search algoritham-it may fall quietly by the wayside.

Thus we have more noise than signal and more of a glut of worthless, search friendly content. So instead of it being like this:

We get something like this:

So for a lot of people, they have to really sift through a lot of non-relevant stuff to find what they’re looking for. Luckily and sadly for some, they generally can look at a search result URL and know that what they’re getting ready to look at, and they know that it’s  going to be bad and worthless-but what about everyone else?

Will search ever be about  contextual efficiency?

Social Media’s effect on the UK riots should surprise no one.

According to HitWise, Twitter accounted for 1 in every 170 UK Internet visits yesterday; by their estimates, there were over 3.4 million visits to the Twitter homepage from the UK population alone. This is the world that we live in now. WE are the media. We create the content, we share the content and we consume the content-CONSTANTLY.

I can’t pinpoint the exact date where we started to leverage the medium of social media for world wide causes, but I can cite some recent events such as the terrorist attacks in India and the uprisings and revolutions in Iran and Egypt respectively as moments where cultures took social media platforms to such scales as a way to augment, support, discuss, share and or fuel what was happening IRL.

It is the nature of the world that we live in today. we are one digital culture.  But look at what organizations and institutes now have to deal with…

Yes there are other digital platforms that are in play during all of this but it is Twitter which seems to be the primary conduit for real time conversations, and updates during the riots in London. The real-time aspect of sharing information through Twitter has made the platform ideal for updates on what has been happening. In fact because of the riots, it has been Twitter’s biggest ever spike in UK traffic online.  Beyond the role that social media has been playing in the UK riots, there’s a larger question that needs to be asked…Has the disruptive nature of social media now become the fuel for anarchy?


The Deets

Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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