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Marketing is increasingly being recognized as an integrated function of a business entity — not really separable from the rest of the way the enterprise operates. In Mike Volpe’s post on Mashable, The 6 Mistakes Most Marketers Make Daily, it’s clear that marketing is something you have to think about as a habit.

6 Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

  1. Marketing without a content strategy (or with a boring one) — instead, focus on providing content and inspiration they won’t find anywhere else. Think about what your reader wants and write that.
  2. Offering content without context — instead, get to know your audience using technology to coordinate and target your message. See that your business is an entity, not a product.
  3. Thinking slow and steady wins the race — instead, recognize that a slow web site costs you money because you just lost customers who didn’t wait for it to load.
  4. Talking (or tweeting) about yourself non-stop — instead, realize that social media is a conversation and you need to hear what your customers are saying before you decide what the answer is.
  5. Not knowing the numbers — instead, use technology to have all the data in easily read format so you can show what works and what doesn’t and figure out why.
  6. Death by word count — instead, use visuals to get your message across to readers who don’t want to spend their time on long blocks of type. Use lists, white space, pictures, infographics…see?

Everyday decisions that a business makes affect the way that business interacts, particularly on social media. Since social media marketing is an increasing part of how customers expect to connect with a business, it’s a good idea to pay attention to mistakes that you could be making and avoid them.

For more on social media marketing, see http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php.

Twitter just issued another report on the way key US audiences connect on the platform. This segment, Four insights about millennials on Twitter, looks at weekly users who are 18 to 34 years old. It is always interesting to see how social media changes the way relationships work–and relationships between business & customer are included in the mindset of most millennials. The fuzzy line between social and business interactions generally is located at the point of money exchange, so tweets that don’t feel like ads can encourage connection without crossing that line. Twitter’s insights each include a tip for applying that information in your business.

Millennials Check Twitter To Stay In The Loop

The majority (80%) of millennial users use a mobile device to check Twitter and keep track of celebrities, friends, and fads. 81% check once a day at least, and 15% check more than ten times a day. 60% will tweet at least one time during the day to join a conversation.

It’s suggested that businesses tweet at least once a day with information that engages the user, and experimenting with formats like a GIF, for instance, can boost interest in the topic.

Millennials Use Twitter To Have Fun

60% are “more entertained” by Twitter, with nearly half (47%) equating it to “laughing” or “a cure for boredom.” This really shows up in the fact that 82% will share a tweet if they think it is funny.

The need to know your audience is really important when it comes to humor. Funny tweets are good, but offensive tweets are like time bombs. The line between funny and offensive is easily crossed if you don’t recognize the difference.

Millennials Think Twitter Makes Live Events Better

Most millennials will tweet during an event to be part of a running commentary on the experience. 71% think it makes it more fun, 70% enjoy reading tweets while watching an event on TV, and 67% would follow and contribute to a hashtag created for that event.

Businesses should utilize this ready-made engagement potential by having a trusted representative covering their handle during the event, tweeting and responding to tweets in real time. It’s a good idea to keep track of upcoming live events that your customers will be tweeting about and join in.

Millennials Want Twitter To Tell Their Own Story

Over half of millennials (56%) want to use Twitter to document what is going on in their lives in real time. Most will tweet random thoughts (67%), but 57% tweet about fun activities. 53% share about current events, 46% pass on jokes or funny stuff, and 42% use Twitter to share photos.

If you can figure out how to combine your brand with a way to personalize a tweet, you stand a good chance of getting a millennial to take the opportunity to share.

Twitter and other social media are good ways to connect with your customer. For more information on the subject, visit http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php

 

By now you might have seen the Gallup Poll report on The Myth of Social Media that’s just been published. With 72% of adults in the US on some form of social media, it makes sense that they’d be doing the surveys to assess what is going on. Here are some interesting numbers from their survey:

  • 94% of social media users are connecting with friends and family
  • 20% are reviewing a product or commenting on it
  • 5% of those surveyed say social media affects their purchase decisions
  • 62% say it has no influence at all

These numbers are a bit scary to the companies who are investing in social media marketing strategies. According to BIA/Kelsey, that investment was $5.1 billion in the US during the past year. By 2018, the combined expenditure on social media advertising is expected to get close to $15 billion. That’s a lot of ads to be ignored on Facebook.

Why Do We Invest In Social Media If People Ignore The Ads?

The report ends in this statement by Gallup:

“The potential of social media is still being debated. Companies are going to have to experiment to figure out what works best with their customers. The process may involve a lot of trial and error, but there is potential in social media that is not directly related to sales revenue. Companies have an opportunity to build communities with their customers in ways they could not before. But to get there, they must first engage their customers through other channels. Regardless of the hype surrounding social media, consumers are still most affected by their offline experiences.”

Basically, the strength of social media platforms is the conversation and engagement. This is not as easy to measure as a click-through rate, but it is much stronger because it is relationship. Social media provides a way to interact with your customers, providing content they share because it is helpful or interesting. As they share, more people are introduced to your company. It’s the word-of-mouth marketing campaign amplified with technology, and it has always been the best way for a business to be known.

Your social media marketing is part of the entire package you offer your customers, and that’s not a myth. It’s reality.

You’ll find more about social media optimization at http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php.

The majority of the 600 or so very small businesses that responded to a recent survey by Endurance don’t have a strategy for their social media practices. Chris Crum has a nice infographic that breaks it down for us on WebProNews. Here’s a few of the results:

  • 90% of very small businesses are on social media
  • 71% don’t have an established social media strategy
  • If managed internally, 80% of posts are by the company head when they feel like it.
  • About a third don’t have defined brands or profiles and aren’t sure how social media should work for marketing.

Of course there’s more information from the study, but these numbers should give business owners pause. A very small business won’t grow if the social media policy is hit and miss because most of your customers get their information on some form of social media.

There’s a lot of information on developing social media strategies, and business owners certainly should be keeping their finger on the pulse of what is happening. But just like you have to delegate other areas as a business grows, this is a place you can delegate with proper training.

Of course, that training means a focused strategy must be developed, but most very small businesses are realizing that. To quote the study’s conclusions,

“over half of those we surveyed expressed an interest in learning best practices – so it’s not that they don’t want to, they just don’t know how.”

If you are interested in learning more about social media marketing, visit http://www.reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php

Recently, Search Engine Journal (SEJ) went through their site and found 9 Noteworthy Social Media Facts in the articles they’ve published and provided links to each one. These facts are noteworthy because they show how social media is becoming one of the most important places to have a presence if you are a business.

  1. in the last six months there’s been an 80% increase in using mobile devices to read email
  2. LinkedIn has 77% of all job postings on its site
  3. one email address can have many Twitter accounts
  4. there was an 800% increase in infographic search volume from 2010 to 2012
  5. the top 24 most-engaged brands on Twitter have more than a million followers
  6. 60 of the top 100 brands on LinkedIn post videos linked to their YouTube channel
  7. 50% of online customers expect customer service on a brand’s Facebook page, but only 23% of brands on Facebook do it
  8. in 3 years, Instagram got 150 million users and grew by 23% in 2013
  9. in 2013 the digital video advertising industry brought in almost $5.8 billion, up 40% from 2012

How do these compare with what your actual online marketing strategies are? You may choose to ignore Instagram, for instance, without any problems, but if your business is on Facebook, you should make sure it is responsive to the “friends” who engage you there.

It’s a good idea to pay attention to social media. Take a quick look at this list and use it as a launching pad to evaluate and renovate your social media marketing campaigns.

When you think about it, social media is just an extension of your customer circle and it makes sense to optimize it. For more information on social media marketing, visit reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php

Twitter has just come out with a study  titled, “Discovering the Value of Earned Audiences — How Twitter Expressions Activate Consumers.” The purpose of the study was to figure out how mentioning a brand in a tweet changes the behavior of consumers, both online and offline.

The three key findings quoted from this study are:

  1. Brands are an integral part of regular conversation on Twitter.
  2. Consumers take action both online and offline after seeing brand mentions in tweets.
  3. The source of a tweet containing a brand mention affects consumer actions.

It’s an interesting study and has a key takeaway for brands: earned media needs to be complemented with both owned and paid messages, because this combination drives greater consumer action and maximizes your return for the efforts you invest in your Twitter strategies.

In plainer language, you need to mix your tweets up by having conversations with your followers as well as the linked posts to your blog and any ads. Which makes sense when you think about it because people might know facts about your brand, but they tend to trust your brand based on a perceived relationship with your customer base and your social media presence.

So tweeting effectively is a combination of using Twitter as it originally started, which is relationship-based, and using Twitter as it is becoming, which is link-based. The people follow the links they trust based on the relationship they have with the tweeter.

One way to do this is monitoring your Twitter account to respond quickly to questions or comments you get and see what develops.

For more information about using Twitter effectively, visit 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

An infographic at Marketing Pilgrim illustrates five obvious trends in search engine optimization. One of those trends is that social signals are increasingly leading to higher search engine results for marketers who are active on the social networks.

These social signals include:

  • shares
  • likes
  • retweets
  • +1s
  • comments
  • followers and fans
  • and other social signals such as total reach and influence

What this means for search marketers is that you should spend a little bit of time each day on social media, sharing your content and interacting with your audience. This will likely become more and more important as the search engines place greater emphasis on these social signals.

In the old days, marketers built content and tried to get as many links as they could to that content with the right amount of anchor text and other link building signals. Today, it’s all about the social signals, and we’re talking about more than those that lead to links.

There are a handful of social media websites that are most important in helping marketers increase their social influence. These include:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube
  • Instagram

While these are not the only sites worth mentioning, I’d say they are a bare minimum. You may not need to be on all of them, but you should establish a presence on most of them. And be active.

Social media marketing is as good as SEO. Learn more about social media optimization at reciprocalconsulting.com/social-media-optimization-SMO.php.

Integrated marketing is a simple concept that is a challenge to implement, but it is one of the most important aspects of marketing a business of any size. Your first step is to develop your company’s mission statement and unique selling proposition (USP). From that, you develop your marketing plan.

It’s important, when establishing your overall marketing plan, to think about how each piece relates to the others.

For instance, you might have a great video marketing strategy, but how does that strategy work with your social media and e-mail marketing strategies? By making each piece work together toward a common goal, you can truly integrate your marketing so that you get more mileage out of every event.

There is no limit to how many different types of marketing you can incorporate into your integrated plan. If you can do it and you want to, you can integrate it. But you have to have someone available to manage the roll out.

There’s no sense running a paid advertising campaign, for instance, if you don’t have a qualified person available to manage your PPC accounts.

So assess your company for strengths, skills, and personnel assets, and take a look at your marketing budget. Is it feasible to do what you want to do? If not, where are the holes? Is there a way to fill them using outside resources? Take a full assessment before you begin your marketing plan and figure out how to integrate each piece before you develop it.

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.

Is it just me or have you noticed that blog posts seem to be getting longer and longer? And they almost always feature a half a dozen images or so, plus a couple of videos, and maybe a cartoon or two. Undoubtedly, this is to keep your interest so you don’t go roaming on someone else’s blog. It’s a constant competition for attention.

One idea suggests that longer blog posts are better for SEO. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. But if your only reason for writing long posts is to improve your SEO, then you should stop now. It likely won’t happen.

Even if it does, how many readers are going to stick around day after day while you bore them with 10,000-word blog tomes? Not many. I can assure you.

The most important thing in blogging is that you capture and keep your readers’ attention. With ever shortening attention spans, that’s getting to be a greater challenge. But you already know your audience. Meeting them where their attention is seems like a good idea. After all, if you don’t grab their attention, someone else will.

Blogging is a personal communication tool that you can use professionally. It doesn’t require any special tricks. It requires a voice, a POV. If you connect with your readers, your chances of them telling their friends and bringing you more traffic is better than you ever ranking No. 1 for a great keyword. That’s the most important thing you should know about blogging.

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.

Every now and then an idea comes along that seems hokie on the surface but actually turns into a big deal. Twitter comes to mind.

Flipagram promises to be to video as Twitter is to blogging. Call it microvideo production, but it could catch on.

The name makes you think instantly of Instagram. That’s understandable. It is integrated with Instagram. But it’s also integrated with Facebook and Twitter, which means that it could see a lot of users checking it out.

It’s actually a smartphone app – with downloads for iOS and Android.

The essence is Flipagram allows users to create short videos (15 to 30 seconds) using their own photos and music dubbed over them. One question that comes to mind is this, Can users use their own music? If so, then it could catch on with independent music artists, and the marketing value for small businesses will go up immediately, as well.

That’s not to say that you can’t use Flipagram for marketing if you are forced to use music from a pre-established library, but my guess is there will be commercial restrictions on copyrighted material.

I can’t wait to see how users put Flipagram to use and begin to share their videos across their social networks.

All Facebook says it won’t have the same marketing usability as Vine, but I do wonder. What do you think? Will Flipagram become useful to social media marketers?

It’s the end of the year, which means this is the time when online marketing professionals look at the year and see what they did well and what they could have done better before turning their eyes around and predicting the trends for the coming year. Since it’s the law, we’ve decided to get on the bandwagon and make our predictions for trends in 2014.

Only, we’re going to approach it a little differently. We’re going to list 5 trends that started in 2013 and that we see continuing into 2014 – maybe beyond.

  1. Mobile marketing – Mobile marketing has been on the rise. Two things are necessary for this. The first are responsive websites. By the end of 2014, if you don’t have one, then you’ll effectively be out of the mobile marketing game. Secondly, the growth of smartphone and tablet usage make mobile marketing an all-in effort.
  2. High quality content – Internet marketers should have been focused on this all along, but people tend to focus on whatever Google forces them to focus on. In 2014, that will be “high quality content.”
  3. Social media metrics – Social media is a channel that has finally come into its own. For many websites, social media traffic will eclipse search engine traffic.
  4. Apps development – Who doesn’t love a good app? Again, smartphones and tablets are driving this train. It’s only going to go faster – until it becomes a super train.
  5. Visual content – Images, videos, infographics, you name it. Content is becoming more visual. Don’t expect this to change.

These trends started in 2013, but they’re only going to become more pronounced in the coming year. What do you think?

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.

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.

An interesting study that pits tablets against smartphones concludes that tablets are being consumed more for books and reference material as well as travel and local-related content than smartphones. Smartphones rule everything else.

I find this to be quite interesting. Books and reference I understand. But local and travel? Tablets, not smartphones?

The study counts click-throughs from mobile ads. Interestingly, smartphones and tablets run neck and neck with smartphones having a slight lead in the music and entertainment category. I’m guessing, like Cynthia Boris, that tablets dominate video and smartphones capture most of the music downloads.

The one category I’d like to see split in two is the travel and local category. Is it possible that travelers search for information on their tablets BEFORE they leave for their destinations while smartphone users are more likely to search for local information on their smartphones? That’s just a hypothesis, but unless there is a study specific to that questions we can’t know.

What we can know is that smartphones show marketing potential for a lot of categories, including productivity apps, games, shopping, news, weather, and dating.

I don’t know what you’ll do with this information, but I’d suggest studying your smartphone and tablet markets to see if you can ascertain any nuances of usage among your audience. If so, then adjust your mobile marketing appropriately. That includes mobile advertising, social media, and mobile search.

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.

Google’s Hummingbird update has turned the SEO world upside down. Everywhere you turn now, it seems you can find an article or blog post explaining how webmasters should optimize their websites for the new search engine. The talking point is that Hummingbird isn’t just an algorithm update. It’s a complete change in how Google ranks web pages.

Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t.

Regardless of what you believe about Hummingbird, there is one thing that is absolutely true. It has changed the way we do SEO going forward. And because of that, it’s time to evaluate your website to see if it stacks up against the new search engine ranking system.

Your first step should be to look at your content. Is it written well? Does it target a specific target? If not, then you need to fix that first and foremost.

Next, take a look at your link portfolio. If you have any questionable links, then you need to disavow them. It’s better to mess up and disavow a few good links than it is not to evaluate your link portfolio at all and be penalized for have a few bad links. You don’t want to be hit like the content farms were under Penguin.

Thirdly, review your technical SEO. There are some very specific things you should look at. Search Engine Journal has the list.

Finally, take a look at your social media strategy? Do you have one? Is it a good one? If not, then you seriously need to think about starting a social media strategy that helps you promote your brand.

SEO post-Hummingbird isn’t a far cry different than it used to be – if you’ve always tried to follow the search engine guidelines – but it is different.