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A new Forrester study seems to indicate that fewer marketers are creating new content on social media sites. To define what this means exactly, Forrester created a Social Technographic.

It breaks down like this –

23% of social media users are blogging, creating content for websites, uploading videos, music and audio and writing articles and stories and posting them online. That’s the content creator category.

But most social media users, it seems, are critics, conversationalists, joiners and spectators. What should you make of this?

As a content creator, you provide the content that others criticize, discuss or watch. It’s good that there are more of the latter categories and less of the creator category. That’s the way you want it, right?

If you understand your end users and how they interact on social media websites then you can better create content that they will like, share and help go viral. That’s what SMO is all about and it starts with knowing who you are, what you have to offer and who your audience is.

An interesting report from Econsultancy shows that 40% of companies have “experimented” with social media. Is yours one of them?

This is an interesting figure because if these companies are just experimenting with social media then they probably aren’t getting very far. Social media is not something you can tinker with and see results. And you certainly won’t see any immediate ROI just from a little experiment.

There are very few marketing strategies that you can experiment with and hope to get real results. Social media marketing is another strategy that demands more than just a passing fancy.

In fact, I’d hasten to say that you’d be more apt to experiment with search engine optimization and see some results than to experiment with social media and see results. Tinkering with social media marketing is like “trying out dating” and hoping to get a spouse. If you find a spouse just by experimenting then you’ll be one lucky dater. And if you get any real business from experimenting with social media then you’ll be one lucky marketer.

Don’t you think it’s time you stop experimenting with social media marketing and get serious?

If you are a Twitter user then you can rejoice. By the end of the year Twitter is planning to roll out a real-time analytics tool. How useful will that be?

If you’ve been hesitating to use Twitter because you don’t see any way to measure your results then I’m sure you’ll agree that an analytics tool that measures real-time results could be quite valuable. But it all really depends on what the tool will measure.

There have been third-party analytics tools that have focused primarily on numbers of followers, retweets, and similar results. But I’m hoping that Twitter takes it a step further. I’d like to see which links are getting clicked on and how many clicks those links are attracting. That would probably be the most useful metric for any serious Twitter marketer.

Social media has reached an age that it can now be taken seriously. Twitter is a part of that movement along with Facebook and LinkedIn. But without a proper metric, or a tool that measures useful data, then the tools are not really helpful. That’s why I’m particularly excited about the prospect of a Twitter analytics tool.

Do you see this announcement as encouraging? Why or why not?

When it comes to Internet marketing there are services that are worth pursuing and services that you can afford to put on the back burner for awhile. In other words, not all services are created equal. The following 7 services are services that I’d say are worth considering today and that will likely be necessary services five and ten years from now.

  1. Pay Per Click Management – PPC has become a staple of online advertising. You pay for traffic and if you do it right then your traffic will be targeted and conversion ready.
  2. Search Engine Optimization – The original search engine marketing. There is no reason not to pursue a search engine optimization strategy. It’s the perfect search engine marketing.
  3. Online Reputation Management – Don’t wait until you need it. Incorporate reputation management into everything you do.
  4. Social Media Optimization – Social media is here to stay. This is evidenced by Facebook becoming the No. 1 trafficked website online. Develop a strategy and make it work for you.
  5. Competitive Intelligence – Learn everything you can about your competition, then use it against them.
  6. Web Design & Development – It all starts with your hub on the Web. Web design is one of the most important things to do in your total marketing strategy. Give it some thought.
  7. Video Marketing & Production – Video marketing is the Internet sleeper. It’s taken awhile to catch on, but it is catching on. This is where the money will be in the future. Count on it.

If you’re serious about Internet marketing, these 7 strategies should be a part of your plan – starting today.

At this juncture in Web history it is pretty commonplace for a business to own at least one blog. I think it will someday be commonplace for many businesses to some day own and operate several blogs. As the Web becomes more and more competitive, there will be more websites and blogs targeting specific niches, and niches within niches. That will undoubtedly make the search and social marketing stakes go higher.

One of the points of differentiation for any business with a website is design. Not only can it distinguish you from the competition, but it can also brand you, your company, and your products. Blog design, of course, is no different.

It has already been established that blog design is important. But does it matter for each blog? Does every blog have to have its own unique design, or can a company have a branded look to which each blog and website under the corporate umbrella must conform? My answer is, of course, yes.

Yes, to both. Either is acceptable.

When deciding on a design look for your blog, keep in mind your company goals. If you want all of your Web properties to have a consistent look for branding effect then that’s an easy decision. But if you want each blog to have its own design and branded look then you’ll have to make some hard decisions for each. Either way can be effective. You just have to narrow down your ideals.

Research shows that companies with well-established CI programs enjoy greater earnings per share than companies in the same industry without CI programs.

To the degree that you uncover your competitors’ secrets and learn what they are doing in the marketplace, to that same degree you can enjoy the success coveted by every player in every niche. And you can even go on to dominate your niche. Competitive research is that important.

In 2001, BusinessWeek published an article that illustrated just how much competitive intelligence research can pay off in a recession. That was 2001, long before the real recession hit.

Of course, competitive intelligence is important any time, but companies tend to cut back on marketing when the economy slows down. Companies, however, that go against the tide do a lot better. And there are two ways to go against the tide: Spend money on competitive intelligence, and take what you learn from competitive intelligence and invest it in a solid marketing initiative. You do that when your competition is scaling back and you’ll win.

So where do you start? I’d say start with what you know. Who is your competition and what was the last thing they did? After that, it’s a matter of staying one step ahead.

It’s no secret now that social media is a huge traffic driver these days. Both Facebook and Twitter drive loads of traffic to websites that use them well. And now that Facebook has surpassed Google as the most trafficked website online, I think it’s just a matter of time before Facebook also becomes the biggest traffic source for most websites online.

SEOs and Internet marketers are accustomed to saying that 80% of website traffic comes from search engines, although that hasn’t been true for probably about a year now. Social media has picked up a lot of steam – obviously. YouTube has long been considered the No. 2 search engine. As previously noted, Facebook is now the most trafficked website online. Hey, things change.

So my question to you is, when will Facebook surpass Google in terms of being the website that pushes the most traffic to webmasters? Do you think it will happen this year? Next year? Never?

My personal prediction is that it will happen some time in the next year or two. By 2014, Facebook will be the biggest source of traffic for most websites. It won’t be Google any more. But that doesn’t mean that Google will be irrelevant. It will just mean we’ve entered a new phase of Internet marketing.

One oft-repeated storyline we hear is, “I don’t need to advertise; I get a steady stream of referrals based on my reputation.” That’s great. We wouldn’t dare knock a great reputation, but let me give you something else to think about.

What if you could increase your business by 10% just with a little bit of advertising? Or, better yet, what if you could increase your business by 10% over and above what you spend on advertising. Would that be worth it?

Most business owners would say, “Yes.”

Ten percent may not sound like much, but if you do $100,000 worth of business in one month then that’s an additional $10,000 worth of business. And a website doesn’t cost anywhere near that much. If it does then you’re probably using the wrong web designer.

A pay per click advertising campaign might cost you $2,000 per month. If it brings in $5,000 in business each month over and above your current clientele then you can turn some of that business into lifetime customers. That’s the goal, isn’t it?

And it’s just as likely that new customers you acquire through online advertising and Internet marketing will also spread the word about your business. Online, there are some powerful word of mouth tools that you and your clients can use – many of them for free.

With just a little bit of expense, you can increase your business a great amount. So don’t knock advertising.

There are three trains of thought concerning domain names. There are the exact match domain name advocates, the “close enough” domain name advocates, and the branded domain name advocates. Each camp has its good reasons for believing as they do and have some good points of defense, but is there a right way?

Not really.

The reason some people think an exact match domain name is necessary is because of SEO. There have been times when exact match domains ranked better as a result of a keyword appearing in the domain name. Now is one of those times. But there have also been times when it didn’t matter. That’s because Google is always tweaking its algorithm and things change.

This might sound like a reason to ensure you have an exact match domain name because, after all, if you’re living in such a time that it does matter for SEO purposes then you’ll want to cash in. But not so fast.

There are plenty of online businesses who have a branded domain name and they’re doing just fine. Google is one of those. Facebook, the most trafficked website online, is another. Obviously, they’ve done pretty well without exact match domain names, haven’t they?

There is something to be said for building a brand. Traditional business and marketing techniques suggest that branding yourself has a lot more long-term benefit than an exact match domain ever could have. If you can do both, great, but if t comes down to one or the other, you’d be better off with going with a name that will give you long-lasting benefits.

Learn more about search engine optimization and Internet marketing from Reciprocal Consulting.

It’s pretty clear by now that social media has become an intrinsic part of the Web. It isn’t going anywhere any time soon, if ever. And that’s just as well because, in truth, social media has always been a part of the Web.

The early usenets of the 1980s are a precursor to the technology that is used for many social media sites today. Users subscribed to newsgroups related to a particular topic and posted comments in a forum-like succession. However, in those days, design was nowhere near as sophisticated as it is today.

Before that, BBSs, or online bulletin boards, served a social function.

In the 1990s when the World Wide Web first started taking off, forums and dating sites were some of the earliest social media sites. Many people spent a lot of time in forums, chatting it up with their friends on a variety of topics.

By 2000, it was clear that social websites were going to be a big part of the Web. MySpace pioneered the modern social media website as early as 2003. By 2006 it became the largest social media website online. In 2008, Facebook surpassed it. And today there is a social network for almost every niche under the sun. But I think there is still room to grow.

Social media communities develop in a number of ways. They are not always designed to be social networks in the sense of Facebook and MySpace. They can come together in any number of fashions.

  • Blogs
  • Forums
  • Online chats
  • Video sharing
  • Online gaming

These are just a few ways to build a social media community.

It’s important to keep in mind that you build your social media community around the needs of your website users. What do they want and what do they expect from a community? Have you asked?

A lot of pay per click marketers place too much important on click-through rates. Yes, it’s true, click-throughs (CTR) are important and you want to measure your CTR, but at the end of the day what is really important is ROI.

Let’s assume that you spend $1 per click on a PPC campaign. In one day you get 10 clicks so you’ve spent $10. How many of those resulted in a sale? If you got no sales then you had no ROI. You’ve spent $10 and made no money.

But let’s suppose that you are paying $2 per click and you got the same number of clicks. Now you’ve spent $20; but suppose that one of those clicks resulted in the sale of a widget that resulted in a net profit of $22. Now you’ve got an ROI of $2.

That’s not much, I know, but it’s better than $0, right?

It’s great that you’ve got an ad that can draw clicks, but you have to look beyond your ad and see your landing page for what it is. If it isn’t converting your traffic then you’re just throwing good money after bad. We’ve discovered that sometimes a simple tweak of a landing page can result in more conversions.

Now imagine in that second scenario above that you got 2 conversions instead of 1. Your ROI moved from $2 to $24. Now imagine doing that every day. Isn’t ROI a lot more attractive then CTR now?

It’s common knowledge that Facebook has supplanted MySpace as the premier social network online. But does that mean that MySpace is no longer useful?

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that. There are still millions of users on MySpace. But MySpace has been relegated to a niche website, unlike Facebook.

So what is MySpace’s niche?

As it has always been, MySpace is a hangout for musicians and other creative artists. If you visit the site you’ll notice that it’s top navigation bar has the following options:

  • People
  • Music
  • Video
  • Games
  • Topics
  • Events
  • More

While MySpace has done a lot to upgrade its look and to provide new offerings for its users, unless you are in the entertainment industry, or you cater services to the entertainment industry, then I don’t see a whole lot of value in there for you. It may be there, but I don’t see it.

MySpace does have a snazzier look than it used to have, there’s no doubt. But don’t go on the look alone.

I would suggest that non-entertainment industry professionals seek social media opportunities at LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and niche social sites that cater to your industry. Leave MySpace for the kids, the musicians, and the entertainers.

In the early days of Internet marketing it was relatively easy to get a web page to rank in the popular search engines for the keywords that you wanted to target. Keyword targeting essentially started with these early search engines and keyword density along with meta tags was the dominant way to get a web page to rank.

But in 1998, a search engine company appeared on the scene and introduced new technology that would change the landscape of search forever. That company was Google.

What was so special about Google? The search technology that Google introduced was all about counting backlinks as a measure of value. If a web page had a lot of inbound links, so the thinking went, then that meant that a lot of other web publishers saw value in that web page and it should rank higher for the keywords it targeted.

This presented a few problems and once word got out that Google counted links then everyone started looking for ways to get more links. You could call it the Great Link Scramble and you’d be right on the money.

In the last ten years Google has made a lot of changes to its algorithm. The search engine has added some factors and taken some factors away in its search for the optimal mix of ranking factors. But the basic core philosophy of using backlinks as a measure of value is still there.

Some other changes that have taken place since Google’s entrance into the search engine wars include the addition of new technologies like pay per click advertising, video marketing, social bookmarking, and social networking. While article marketing was a popular way to seek links early on, social media sites seem to be a more popular way today. But article marketing still works.

As the Internet grows and more people use it for marketing, more technologies come into play for marketing through the medium. I can hardly wait to see how it will change in the next ten years.

Yahoo! Answers is the most popular Q&A site online. But it’s not the only one.

These sites are good for traffic if you know how to ask the right questions and if you know how to answer questions to pique the curiosity of others. The secret is in answering questions that are related to your niche, that position you as an expert in that niche, and that demonstrate your respect of others online. That translates into reputation management and good Internet marketing.

The following 10 websites are reasonable alternatives to Yahoo! Answers for delivering the benefits that you receive for Q&A sites like those:

Unfortunately, I can’t attest to any statement about which of these sites is the best one. The best Q&A site might be different for you than it is for someone else. I’d recommend that you visit each site and search for questions related to your niche to get a feel for the types of questions and the number of questions related to your expertise that appear on those sites. Also, look to see how many other answerers there are related to those questions.

If a Q&A site has a lot of questions related to a particular niche and few responders to questions then you’ll likely do better at that site as opposed to a site that has a few questions related to a particular niche with a lot of people responding to them.

Online marketing is a big plus for service companies. There are countless examples of companies who have turned to online marketing for increasing their marketing percentage while effectively doing little to increase their marketing outlay. And service companies have an advantage over retail companies that have large inventories to manage.

So what is this advantage?

Here are several ways that service companies have an advantage when marketing online:

  • Can deliver high profit margins with low variable costs
  • It is easier to add new services than to add new products to inventory
  • Stock turnover is unnecessary when the market changes
  • It’s easier to test new markets with online marketing
  • It’s easier to update your website with a new service rather than adding new inventory to your online stock library

Service companies can change to meet new market conditions much more quickly than retail companies with inventories to manage. And that translates to faster online marketing changes and more effective online marketing overall.

Another way that service companies have an advantage online is in handling customer service or sales calls that come in from the company website. Customers that call about a service will have more direct customers that are easier to answer. If a customer has to call about a product on your website then you probably didn’t provide enough information about it. Otherwise, you’d have closed the sale online. With service businesses, on the other hand, every customer is different so you expect the phone call.

If you have a service company and you think you are ready to start your online marketing initiatives, call someone who knows how to market a service company.

You’ve likely heard that video marketing is the next big thing in Internet marketing. That’s true. It really has come of age and we believe it will get even better. But if you look at a lot of videos online they don’t look like they were produced by a professional – and I’m talking about your marketing videos.

There’s no reason you can’t have a professional video made for your business and put on your website. And there’s no reason you can’t follow that up with more professional videos to use as marketing tools to drive traffic back to your website.

The question is, what makes a professional video?

It isn’t as hard as you’d think. Sure, it takes planning and a little work, but you can get professional quality video production at a small business price. Here’s what you need:

  • A solid plan
  • Several distribution channels
  • On-location production
  • Filmed in DV or HDV format
  • Professional scriptwriting
  • Teleprompter
  • Proper lighting
  • Professional video editing
  • Expert post-production skills
  • Website video integration with Flash or other acceptable format

Your video production team should be made of up of professionals with some experience, not some small group of first-timers who know how to post to YouTube. And don’t laugh at the teleprompter. It’s a necessary component to professionally made videos. That teleprompter is going to keep you in line. You’d be surprised at how you can make simple mistakes in front of the camera even after you’ve run through fifteen perfect rehearsals without the camera.

When you’re ready for a professional video production, call someone with experience.


Spying on your competition isn’t as hard as you can imagine. There are open places on the web where your competition hangs out and where they publicly disclose what they are doing with their products and marketing initiatives. Here are 5 easy places to spy on your competition.

  • LinkedIn – There are so many companies actively using LinkedIn these days that it’s worth a look just to see if your competition is there. If so, follow them. Read their questions and their answers and see who their friends are. You’ll be able to tell a lot just by that alone.
  • Facebook – It’s hard to find a company without a Facebook presence these days. Find your competition, follow their fan page and see what they are putting out on their updates page.
  • Twitter – Twitter is one of the easiest places to spy on the competition. Find them and follow them. Everything they say will be visible to you. Also, subscribe to alerts that let you know when your competition is mentioned on Twitter.
  • Quora – Quora is a fairly new website that is growing in popularity. All kinds of people go there to ask and to answer questions of one sort or another. If your competition is on Quora then you can follow them and see what they are asking, and what they are saying in their answers. What’s more, you can do much of it anonymously.
  • Company Blog – Finally, subscribe to the RSS feed of your competition’s company blog. You’ll know as much as you need to know.

Spying on the competition isn’t hard. You can do it online in just a few minutes a day and at relatively low cost.

If you look at some of the most popular websites online you’ll find that a lot of them have some things in common. Let’s take a look:

  • Google – Long known for its simplicity, Google’s home page is a search box with a couple of links on a white page. Nothing fancy. And Google is a top tier website with one of the highest usage rates in history.
  • Twitter – Twitter started off with a very simple design. Just a few months ago they upgraded their web design, but it didn’t change much. It is still simple with its two-column approach.
  • Facebook – Facebook might look complicated, but it’s not. There’s a news feed and two sidebars – a right and a left. That’s pretty common these days. The design gives Facebook a familiar look and most users can find what they want with no problem.
  • YouTube – YouTube’s design has been simple from the beginning. The current design, while not the original, still employs simple design elements while showcasing some of the best videos in a variety of categories. When you move to channel pages, the design becomes even simpler.

When it comes to web design, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Often, the best designs are simple. Simplicity works.

The first step to increasing sales is increasing traffic. Bottom line, that’s what social media does for you. It increases your traffic – if you do it right.

Actually, there are three primary benefits to social media marketing:

  • Increased traffic to your website
  • Reputation management
  • Audience engagement and relationship building

Each of these benefits is very distinctive, but they all lead to the same end road. If you manage your reputation online well then it will lead to more traffic going to your website and inevitably to more sales. Building relationships and engaging with your audience likewise will deliver more traffic to your website, leading to more sales.

As you can see, multiple benefits often lead to a positive end result. When it comes to online marketing you cannot afford to sit idle. Be proactive, don’t be afraid to venture out from your virtual doorstep, and meet the day.

On another note, by stepping outside of your comfort zone (and your own domain), you show potential customers that you are willing to meet them half way. You’ll certainly earn a lot more respect for that. And being social is a great way to drive traffic back to your website and increase your sales.

Content portability is a fairly new concept, though in reality it’s been around for as long as the Web. It simply means taking your content and making it accessible in other parts of the web. The further afield you can take your content the more likely you are to attract more visitors to your website. But how is content portability accomplished?

It is accomplished in a number of ways:

  • RSS feeds
  • Aggregation
  • Widgets
  • Web apps
  • Mobile apps
  • Social media republishing
  • Blogging and article marketing

Essentially, any tool that can be used to take content on one site and redistribute it through another website or platform is taking the concept of content portability and making it work for you.

The benefits of content portability are increased traffic to your website, more eyes on your brand, enhanced reputation on the Web, name recognition among your audience, and your own social graph enhancement.

In an age of rapid progression and competitive social media publishing, you cannot afford to delay content portability or hold back from publishing and republishing your important content. It takes little effort and is very affordable. Learn more about content portability right now.