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Search Engine Optimization has been around for quite some time; long enough to go through an evolutionary process that has changed the way internet marketing is done. The goal of being on the first page of the search engine remains the same, but the method has changed as search engines used new algorithms to determine how to prioritize findings. It’s a constantly changing puzzle that keeps professionals challenged.

Social Media Optimization is the new kid on the SEO block, promising great things and looking easier to deal with than the arcane formulas of traditional search engine optimization. But is it an either/or situation? Of course not. Neither one is a magic bullet that will maximize your marketing goals. Both SEO and SMO are tools that need to be used skillfully in order to work well, and they should both be in your marketing toolbox.

SEO will be used to bring your business up in the ranks of a search engine. Since search engine algorithms are trending toward using social media input, SMO starts getting important in search engine optimization. But while there’s an overlap, social media optimization has a completely organic side based on human nature. The way you optimize your social media is by engaging people in an ongoing relationship. A first-time customer might find you from an internet search or from a “share” from a friend on a social media site. That is the beginning of the acquaintance and it grows through interchanges that increase familiarity and connection.

Optimizing your business means you use the technology at your disposal to develop the relationships with your customers that result in a loyal base you can rely on for future transactions. If you only have been thinking of SEO, you need to add SMO to your toolbox so you have the advantages of using both. If you need help with your social media marketing tools, you’ll find it atĀ reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php.

 

Some business owners struggle with what images they should post on Pinterest, particularly if they don’t own an e-commerce business or don’t sell physical products. The truth is, it doesn’t matter what kind of business you have. You can still make use of Pinterest.

Here are 5 ways to make your Pinterest pinboards more interesting:

  1. Pin your instructional videos or images associated with your podcasts. You can always pin the pages where your videos are posted in YouTube.
  2. Take pictures of your customers and employees interacting and upload those to Pinterest. Alternatively, take pictures of your employees behind the scenes (at office parties, industry events, etc.) and upload those to Pinterest.
  3. If you own a brick-and-mortar store, upload pictures of new products in your inventory when they come in. A great way to do this is to take pictures of your employees putting them on the shelves.
  4. For service businesses, you can pin images from around the Web that showcase problems that your staff can fix. For instance, an auto mechanic might pin an image of an overheating radiator. Be sure that you pin images on websites that have a Pin button so that you don’t run into potential copyright issues.
  5. Pin work you do for clients or supporting documents around the Web that back up claims you make on your blog. Infographics are very pinnable.

Need help with your Pinterest account or another social media account? Get Pinterest help at reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php

There is a practice going around called Twitterjacking. It is essentially using other people’s tweets, hashtags, and other Twitter marketing strategies to draw attention to your business. It’s controversial, but it can also be powerful if you don’t overdo it or misuse it.

The first step is to find popular Twitter users and hashtags in your niche and follow them for a while. Get a feel for what they tweet about before you do anything.

If opportunities arise, interact with these power users. Ask them questions or respond to their tweets. Focus on building a relationship first. You can even retweet some of their most interesting or useful tweets.

After you’ve built a solid relationship, tag along on one of the popular hashtags that are gaining traction. Rising hashtags are great opportunities. Make sure your tweet is relevant to the hashtag and to your audience. If possible, mention the originator of the hashtag or the associated brand by @ sign and name.

This practice, if done well and unannoyingly, will usually net you a few extra followers every time you use it. Just don’t abuse it.

Retweets, hashtags, and even favorites are all subtle but powerful ways you can hijack Twitter to attract a little attention to your brand.

LinkedIn is the quintessential social network for B2B marketing. If you do any kind of business-to-business business, then you should be on LinkedIn. Your profile is the essential marketing element for connecting with others. Here are 5 of the most important parts of your LinkedIn profile and how you should optimize them.

  1. Your headline – Your headline is very important. You need to tell the world the most important part of your background in 120 characters. Don’t just list your title and company. “CEO of XYZ Corporation” is not as catchy as “Ideator and Business Leader at a Fortune 500 industrial manufacturer.”
  2. Your photo – Is your photo up to date? If not, then you should get a more recent photo. Don’t be afraid to spend a few dollars to have one taken of you. It will make a difference.
  3. Your summary – You have 2,000 words to present your best background experience to page viewers. Make it relevant. Include strong action words that depict your most impressive credentials. You can even include links to your portfolio.
  4. Experience – Make sure your most recent job experiences are listed. Keep this part of your LinkedIn profile up to date. You never know who is watching.
  5. Media – You can upload important videos, podcasts, PDF files, presentations, and whatever else is important to your portfolio. These round out your LinkedIn profile and make it easier for potential business partners to see what value you can be to them.

Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date if you want to impress potential business partners.

Social sharing is one of the most telling aspects of content marketing. If you write to your blog every day and your content is never shared, you might wonder if you’re really being read. By having your content shared on the various social networks, you can cast a wider net and attract more targeted readers to your content. But how do you encourage that?

Start by writing the content that readers want to read. If you’re not sure what that is, ask. Nothing will stop readers from sharing content more than the wrong content.

Fundamental to the right content, however, is the right audience. If you aren’t targeting the right audience, then you need to search out the right audience for your niche and produce the content that will get them excited.

Right Audience + Right Content = Social Sharing

Seems simple, right? It is … once you figure out the formula and start working it.

Also, be sure to add social icons to your blog and each page of your website. If people don’t see a way to share your content, they likely won’t share it. Don’t forget to add a way for people to share by e-mail. Even in this day and age, many readers do not have Facebook or Twitter accounts. But they do have e-mail, and so do their friends.

Facebook has become one of the most important social media websites for businesses seeking to engage with potential customers. B2C businesses in particular have a challenge when it comes to social engagement due to the nature of Facebook’s algorithm.

EdgeRank is weighted to give more cred to the last 50 items a user engaged with on their news feed. For that reason, we recommend these 4 content tactics for improving your Facebook engagement:

  1. Post more frequently – Obviously, you don’t want to spam your followers, but if you post more frequently, then you’ll increase your chances of engagement.
  2. Use images – When you post to Facebook, you’ll make your content more engaging if you include images.
  3. Encourage discussion – Post content that encourages discussion rather than including strong sales calls to action. Facebook frowns on the calls to action, but posts that get people to commenting, sharing, and liking increase engagement.
  4. Keep it relevant – Post content that is relevant to your business as opposed to fluff, cat pictures, and information that isn’t within the context of your niche. Instead of sending out game invites, send out content highlighting third-party sources that discuss important issues in your business niche.

Facebook engagement depends on how well you reach your target audience through relevant content. Start with these four principles and branch out from there.

Chad Whitman of EdgeRank Checker conducted a study on Facebook reach and engagement and discovered that there are two types of content that Facebook has targeted as specifically low quality content and should be avoided. What are they?

  • Memes
  • And calls to action

This is interesting because that second one – calls to action – flies in the face of everything we’re taught about writing great content. You want a strong call to action.

Not on Facebook.

Based on the study cited by Whitman, if you frequently ask for engagement, Facebook will punish your content and cause it not to be seen by the people you want to see it. The same goes for frequent memes, you know those jpeg images with witty sayings? People like them, but Facebook doesn’t.

Another suggestion Whitman makes is to increase the frequency of your posts on Facebook. That’s drastically different than what is recommended by experts who use LinkedIn.

Keep in mind that every social media website has its own guidelines and set of preferences – that goes for users as well as the site. If you want to be effective in using social media, learn how they are all different and pay attention to what actually works when you post it. In other words, use intelligent analytics and measure your results.

If you run frequent social media campaigns, you will undoubtedly use certain applications to assist you with posting messages. There are quite a few of them out there. The purpose of this blog post isn’t to discuss the merits of those applications or compare them. What we’d like to discuss today is whether or not it is prudent to pre-schedule your social media messages.

Some of the applications you can use allow you to pre-schedule your social media messages on the various social media sites.

Hootsuite, for instance, will allow you to pre-schedule messages on Facebook and Twitter, but you can’t pre-schedule on Google+. Do Share is a Google Chrome application that allows you to pre-schedule messages for Google+, but you have to be logged in for those messages to actually post.

Despite these drawbacks, there are benefits to pre-scheduling. First and foremost is time management. By pre-writing and pre-scheduling your messages, you can save time. Write your messages in advance and schedule them to post when you want them to.

I’d be careful to rely on this method too much. You still want to interact with your audience, retweet and re-share posts on the various social media sites you participate on. You want your presence to be personal and approachable if not spontaneous. Still, pre-scheduling some of your messages – those that are not necessarily timely or that are easy to write and can be posted at any time – can benefit you in the long run.

Our recommendation: Pre-schedule certain posts that you can share at any time without detriment. More timely messages should be posted when prudent for your business and your audience.

One underutilized feature of Twitter is something called a Twitter chat, or a tweet chat. In a nutshell, this is simply the practice of using a special hashtag to host a discussion about a particular topic on Twitter. It’s a great way to use Twitter for branding your company.

It’s really simple. I’d recommend creating a special hashtag for your chat session rather than co-opt one that already exists. There are several reasons for this:

  • If you use a hashtag that already exists, you may find people joining your chat session who shouldn’t be there.
  • You may annoy other Twitter users who feel like you’ve taken over their conversation.
  • Creating your own hashtag is fun and practical as it carries with it a branded element that points back to you.

Before choosing a hashtag, conduct a search for it to see if it already exists. If it does, then come up with an alternative.

After creating your hashtag, write a blog post inviting your readers to join your chat session. Be sure to publish the time and date. Next, create an event on Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn to notify your followers of the chat session. And don’t forget to invite your Twitter followers.

If you plan your chat session far enough in advance, you can promote it regularly prior to the event to encourage a higher attendance. Make sure everyone knows the chat hashtag.

Twitter chats can be conducted during a specific short period of time (i.e. 7 P.M.-9 P.M. on a specific date) or for a designated time period over several days (i.e. 8 A.M. on a specific date to 9 P.M. three days later). Either way, it’s a great way to get feedback on specific issues related to your customers and your brand.

Search Engine Journal makes a convincing case that marketers should tweet their content more than once. To summarize, here’s what one publisher found through a study conducted on Twitter:

  • Tweeting a blog post multiple times results in more traffic to your blog.
  • By tweeting the same content several times throughout the day you can reach people in different time zones. Our comment: That’s very important if your audience is global, much less so if it is local.
  • You can reach new followers with each tweet. Our comment: Even though local businesses aren’t concerned about multiple time zones, there may still be a benefit to tweeting at different times of the day as people often have different social and work schedules based on our 24-hour economy.
  • You cant test different headlines to see which one is more effective.

One thing I found particularly interesting is that the writer of the article mentioned that after testing several headlines she would go back and change the original title to a blog post. Here’s what she says in her own words:

When we see a big difference in engagement on a different headline like that, we usually go back to the original post and change the title itself (the URL never changes, just the heading of the blog post), so this can be a really useful learning experience for us, as well as helping us share our content with more people.

That’s not a bad idea. Maybe it’s time to rethink your social media strategy.

Search Engine Journal explains really well why you might be losing traffic to Google if you fall into a certain website classification. But it’s been our experience that even new websites aren’t getting as much direct traffic from Google as they used to. And that includes websites where Google is not providing direct information.

Nevermind why this is happening. The truth is, you can’t do anything about it. Except one thing: Seek alternative sources of traffic.

Now, more than ever, it is very important to seek website traffic from other sources. But what sources should you consider? Here are three specific sources I’d recommend for getting more website traffic besides Google search:

  1. Guest blogging – Much has been said about guest blogging. I won’t harp on the benefits. One thing is for sure, however. If you guest blog correctly, you’ll get more traffic to your website. Start with blogging on sites within your niche or that target the same audience you do.
  2. Social media – Google can’t control Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. If you’re more active on these sites, you’ll drive more traffic to your website. You may also appear in Google search more for your brand name, which is a huge benefit. By the way, Google+ is included in this category, and you should know that Google+ is counted as a separate referrer channel in most analytics packages than Google search.
  3. Paid advertising - Google wants your money. They want you to advertise with PPC. That’s why they’ve made certain changes like (keyword not provided). Don’t get upset about it. PPC is a good traffic generator. Use it wisely.

I know what you’re thinking. PPC costs money, and that’s true. If you want a less expensive alternative, spend some time on social media. It’s growing in its payoff benefits.

A few years ago, if you’d have asked anyone doing any kind of Internet marketing at all what their No. 1 referrer was, the answer would have been overwhelmingly “Google.” In fact, Google accounted for about 90% of all website traffic at one time. Today, that number is reduced drastically.

If 60% of your traffic is coming from Google today, then you’re doing well. Chances are, however, that you’re getting the bulk of your website traffic from other sources.

But what are those other sources?

For many website owners, those sources include:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Craigslist
  • Third-party niche websites
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Google+

See a trend?

For many website owners, social media has risen to be the No. 1 referrer of traffic. If you are active on several social media sites, then you may have noticed that too. But more often than not, it’s not just one social media website that is referring traffic. It’s several sites delivering a portion of the traffic each.

In that climate, Google may still be your No. 1 referrer, but it isn’t a majority referrer. In other words, they may refer more traffic to your site than any other website but not above 50% of your total traffic. If you do get more than 50% of your traffic from any one source, then you’ve got a gold mine.

This is important to note for several reasons. You should put your money where your traffic is, and where your conversions are.

In other words, if your No. 1 traffic referrer is Facebook, no matter what the percentage is, then focus on converting that traffic to sales. If Facebook is your No. 1 traffic source but most of your conversions come from Twitter, then spend a little more time on Twitter. But don’t neglect Facebook! Instead, try to figure out how to turn Facebook traffic into sales.

It’s an age-old strategy. Put your investment where your payoff is. Re-invest in your biggest moneymaker and you’ll see your ROI go up.

According to a new study, social media campaigns are achieving higher reach numbers than ad exchanges, networks, and other online marketing channels. But this study could be misleading. Reach doesn’t equate to conversions.

Online marketers have to answer this question: If you reach more users or potential users than you did before and achieve the same number of conversions, are you better off?

What if your conversions go down with a higher reach, what then?

The thing you have to remember about reach is, it doesn’t necessarily translate into revenue. However, you may still get a little branding benefit out of it. That is a benefit, assuming that the folks you reach are targeted consumers. If they are people interested in your type of product or service and are in the market for it, then reaching them can be a benefit if they don’t buy from you today.

I’m not knocking reach, but it’s one metric. It’s not THE metric. Any marketing that doesn’t lead, directly or indirectly, to higher revenues should be scrutinized more heavily.

That said, Facebook and other social networks seem to be growing in effectiveness as more people flock to those networks to hang out with their friends. But does that mean you should be marketing to your audience on their Facebook walls? That’s another question.

Bill Slawski has an excellent post this morning on Hummingbird and Authorship. What it boils down to is short text, or social messages.

If you’re one of those people who has developed a habit of sharing links on social media but not including any context for those links by adding helpful commentary so your fans and followers can understand the importance of the link, then you probably aren’t doing yourself any favors. You should start adding more to your social messages.

I’m not saying you should write a book. Twitter only gives you 140 characters, but those 140 characters are very important.

In a word, they add context to your links. But that’s true of your messages on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ too. What you say about the links you post can determine an awful lot about what you think of that link. In the case of Google+, it could also determine your authority on the topics you post about. Google knows what those topics are based on your social messages – or short text.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you post a link to a how-to on changing the oil in a Mercedes. If you are a Mercedes auto mechanic, then that’s a link that is right in line with your expertise. But how will Google know that if all you post is a link. One paragraph of text explaining that the article is a must-read for anyone who owns a Mercedes helps Google associated the keyword “Mercedes” with your name and reputation. Do that enough times and Google will learn to associate your name with “Mercedes” all the time.

One post here and there isn’t much, but long term, a habit of turning your links into short commentary will give you a boost in authority.

Do you know which demographic spends more time on social networks? If you guessed moms with young children, then you’d be right.

It isn’t hard to figure out why young moms spend more time online than anyone else. Their children aren’t old enough yet to demand running around here and yon. Older kids have extra-curricular activities. Younger kids have diapers.

Young moms can put the youngster to bed for a nap and sneak away to Facebook.

But they’re not just talking to their friends either. They’re actually engaging with brands.

These moms also engage with more brands online and they say advertising helps them choose the right products for their children.

In addition to using social media to find products for their young children, moms also are active on mobile devices. In fact, they’re twice as likely to use their mobile phones to access the Web than the rest of the population. They’re also heavy users of their tablets for Web surfing.

All of that spells one thing: If your target market is young moms and you sell online, then you can have a heyday. Take to social media and look for those moms who are searching for products for their young children. It’s a great demographic to market to anyway, but it’s even better now that you know they spend more time online than their neighbors.

Both Starbucks and Amazon have started a gift giving campaign using Twitter as the delivery vehicle. In Starbucks’ case, gift senders can send a $5 gift card to one of their Twitter followers. But one problem with this seems to be that the receiver may not know about the gift and, if they don’t redeem it, then it’s money down the drain for you.

One quick fix for that problem, however, is this: Hold a contest. That way, the receiver of the gift will be expecting it and should redeem the gift certificate when it comes through to them on Twitter.

Amazon’s gift giving program allows you to donate money to your favorite charity, which can actually make you feel better about your philanthropy. The program is called Amazon Smile Program, and how it works is like this: You designate .05% on eligible purchase items to go to a charity of your choice. This is done before selecting your shipping options.

With Amazon’s program, you can choose a recommended charity or pick one of your own.

Here’s the question: Is this the new thing in online marketing? Will this start a new trend? Will other companies, like Amazon, commit to giving to charitable causes out of their own pockets as a branding strategy? Will other retailers, like Starbucks, allow you to give Twitter gift certificates to your followers? If this catches on, expect Twitter to get a little bit more like the wild west – and that may not necessarily be a bad thing. Getting any ideas?

According to a recent eMarketer report, 15% to 17% of TV viewers engage with social networks in real time. This is a golden opportunity for brands who sponsor television programs and are looking for ways to engage with audiences on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

The key is in the use of hashtags.

This Sunday, Season 4 of The Walking Dead will premiere on AMC. As one of the most popular TV shows, you can bet there will be a good number of watchers who will be tweeting and posting on Facebook during the show. What will they be posting about? Most likely, the characters and the story line. Whether they like it or not, your brand can get in on the conversation. You don’t even have to be a sponsor of the show.

The official Walking Dead hashtag is #WalkingDead. You can see the 24-hour trend for the hashtag at Hashtags.org.

If your brand’s audience coincides with the audience for this TV show, you could be watching the show and tweeting and posting on Facebook during the show. Be sure you don’t annoy your audience with self-promotional posts that hijack the hashtag. Instead, use your branded Twitter account or Facebook page to join the conversation going on about the show and its characters while it is happening. This alone will become a way for you to expand your brand’s influence as you discuss a common interest with your audience. You can engage in this form of social media marketing with any TV show in real time.

Yesterday we wrote about Facebook Insights. I should have played around with the new Facebook Insights first because the biggest social media site on the Web has updated its metric tool and changed some of its terminology.

For instance, People Talking About This has been divided into several more useful metrics. Those metrics include:

  • Page Likes
  • People Engaged
  • Page Tags and Mentions
  • Page Check-ins
  • Other Interactions

Facebook also said goodbye to “Virality.” That metric is now called Engagement Rate. As a part of the engagement rate, Facebook is now including clicks.

Additionally, positive and negative interactions have been integrated into one page-specific score card. Metrics being graded include likes, comments, shares, clicks, hide post, hide all posts, report as spam, and unlike posts). If you run a Facebook page, now you can see all of these metrics side by side for each post.

While there are many changes taking place to Facebook pages, there are things staying the same. APIs are one of them.

If you have a Facebook page, click the button that appears to see your Facebook Insights in its new format. If you like it, leave a post here and let us know. If you don’t, let us know that too. Improvement is a good thing – even, or perhaps especially, on social media.

If you have trouble coming up with a steady stream of blog post ideas, why not consult with your Facebook Insights?

Facebook Insights is your page metrics tool, which you can see only when you have obtained at least 30 likes. One aggressive social media marketing campaign can get you those 30 likes pretty quickly. After that, it’s just a matter of monitoring your metrics.

Every Facebook post you make can be measured. That’s true whether you post a simple message or you post a link. If you post links to your blog posts on your Facebook page, then Facebook Insights will tell you how popular those posts are.

Among the metrics you can follow on Facebook Insights are:

  • Total Reach
  • Paid Reach
  • Likes
  • Talking About This
  • User Engagement
  • Virality

Total reach and paid reach should be self-explanatory. Under the Reach tab you can get eyes on your reach by demographics, including gender and age. You can also measure your reach by country and the number of page views versus unique visitors.

You can also see the same information about people talking about your page.

The Overview tab is probably the most valuable. Below the graph you can see how many total people have viewed each Facebook post – those with links and those without. This is total reach. If you click on Reach, then you can reorder your posts by highest reach. Engagement shows the number of people who have clicked on a post and read it. The Talking About This column shows the number of unique people who posted about that particular subject. And Virality shows the percentage of people who have created a post from your Facebook post and the number of people who have seen it.

Play with these columns a little, reordering them by each column and studying which posts are the most popular. Take your most popular posts by Reach, Engagement, and Virality and write about those topics on your blog. Be sure to SEO those posts by relevant keyword.

Constant Contact published a recent blog post telling online marketers how to convert their Facebook profiles into a Facebook page, but there’s the overriding question of … why would you do that?

Actually, there are several good reasons why you might want to do that.

The first reason is this: Facebook has a rule that businesses can’t use personal profiles. If you are publishing commercial content as a business through a personal profile page, then Facebook could delete your profile without warning and you’d lose all your friends and all your content.

Beyond that, there are other benefits to having a Facebook page.

First, pages are public, and you can easily share them with your friends. Your freinds can easily share and like them too. Basically, Facebook pages are so public that anyone can share them.

You can also run promotions on your Facebook page and organize your content in a way that makes your business look more professional.

Finally, Facebook has a metrics section for pages that allows you to see what your most engaging content is. You can see the reach of your content, how many people are talking about it, and see how many people have liked and shared it. You gain access to data on Facebook Insights after 30 likes. This alone makes a Facebook page a necessary component to your online marketing.

If you are operating a business as a personal profile on Facebook, switch it over to a Facebook page today.