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Web platforms: Reintroduction of basic website feature functions and benefits

Ebay had an ad on Facebook for EBay fashion that caught my eye.  It caught my eye because back in the day, I used Ebay quite a bit.  Now not at all. 

I  just posted some furniture on Craig’s list and got no response.  I used to get it sold that day. 

Plaxo use to be my digital address book, now I do not even open their emails. 

I don’t even know my MySpace log in, nor have I used it in years.

So what is going on?  I have created a lot of litter on the digital highway with my usage. Self created, but none the less add to a CMO’s marketers dilemma.

My thought is that even the most famous websites or platforms need to reintroduce themselves frequently to their current user base.  The key driver is to reintroduce what they do, how to do it and why they are still relevant.  The basic 101 of the site. 

Most marketers as of late have been focused on organic optimization of the website and content, which is great, but have forgotten the basics of if and when they find you, they better know how to use you and why to use your site.

I still  have preconceived ideas about Ebay based on my last use.  They have may changes dramatically, yet I still shy away from getting reintroduced. Nor has Ebay even tried to re-engage me. Running a sale is different from reintroducing me to how to use the site.

Google Marketplace has miss stepped over and over again.  I was a huge loyalist, then they because so complex that it drove out all small business with having to add ownership tags that drove out most who do not have in-house web techs. Now they are charging per click to make money off the big brands.

 As compared with Amazon market place, which still has some bugs to work out, but which I sing their praises every day.

As the CMO, dig a little deeper with your team. Look at your own website.  Is traffic up or down, not net new traffic, your returning traffic.  Why are they using your site, what are they doing, what are they not doing. Most sites are designed for net new, not returning visitors.

Returning visitors need  their own path of re-education on how to use the site, whats new, what is familiar. Just as same store sales is critical for brick and mortar, it is critical to activate those who are returning.

The digital road is littered with use and disuse.  What state is your website or platform in? What are your returning customers needing?

These simple questions could improve conversion 10% and who would not want that these days.

Social Media web traffic stats mean changes in social media direction

 When the landscape is changing so fasts in social media, a stat like 41% of social media on Facebook would be a key driver for the 2011 marketing plans.  However for me the interesting fact is the growth of the others like Ning, and Hulu. The fact that MySpace has held it own and has not declined, is a definite relook, were many had started to count them out. The flattening of Twitter trend is also one to take into consideration when planning to use it in your social media mix.  The term – Social media mix, is the key to 2011 planning, it is not longer a one tool plan as an add-on that will work.  Social Media mix is now my new mantra.

Mashables article on social media stats gives a road map to next steps.   By Jolie O’Dell 14

Facebook and YouTube are displacing rivals and taking over the social web, according to data we’ve just received from comScore.

In addition to showing massive and continued traffic growth throughout 2009 and the beginning of 2010, Facebook and YouTube continued to capture the highest volume of social web traffic. Twitter also garnered a ton of mainstream attention, helping the company increase the number of visitors to its site by fivefold over the course of the year.

Taking a look at the unique visitors charts, we see the widespread migration from MySpace to Facebook even more clearly. As of March 2010, Facebook traffic made up 41% of all traffic on a list of popular social destinations. MySpace was in second place, capturing around 24% of traffic. Gmail had 15%, and Twitter had 8%. However, during the same period in 2009, MySpace was in the lead with 38% of site visits over Facebook’s 33%.

While Gmail continues to show slow year-over-year growth and sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter experienced exponential gains over the course of the past 12 months, MySpace’s traffic has been completely stagnant. Facebook, on the other hand, has exhibited strong growth and high volumes of traffic. Take a look at the difference between site traffic in March 2009 and March 2010 for these social sites:

comScore is an acknowledged leader in digital analytics and intelligence. comScore’s data for this post are based on a hybrid of site analytics and audience measurement for U.S. users at home, work and school.”

Bing has issued best practices guidelines for SEO, SEM

Search Engine Optimization Journal is an SEO Blog that discusses Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Ranking and Positioning for the new and advanced reader and has a very interesting article on Bing and branding your website. I found this article very interesting, since SEO and SEM have become such a part of our lives in marketing. Bing  is recommending that you take an approach that utilizes a robust social marketing element into your daily routine.  They also talk about focus on link building as a key to the success of your website.  I also was interested in the term going “unnatural” in the search engines which manipulates the system in order to achieve higher rankings. Having Bing talk about link building and other best practices will make it clearer as to your next steps with you agency or team.   Good read.

Bing Gets Serious About Link Building

Writing by Nick Stamoulis on Friday, February 26, 2010

I think one of the best things I have ever heard a webmaster blog from a major search engine say is to build your website like a brand. Bing’s exact words state: “Develop your site as a business brand and be consistent about that branding in your content”

Too many people out there get all antsy to have their internet marketing look like a recipe. If it looks like a recipe it is a recipe for disaster. Bing’s official webmaster blog states that it is very important and vital to treat your website like a brand. How would a brand build its image? If you take that step you will build your business the right way rather than just go after rankings. Rankings are important but they are not the only and final goal you should be worried about for your internet marketing campaign. Building business is the most important aspect to your SEO campaign. Bing also recommends taking an approach that really utilizes a robust social marketing element into your daily routine. Link building is very vital to the success of a website but unfortunately it is important to do it in a way that allows your business to grow and not just your rankings. Bing also refers to going “unnatural” in the search engines which states that an unnatural approach is one that blatantly attempts to manipulate the system in order to achieve higher rankings.

Bing’s exact words go as follows:
” So what does it mean to go unnatural? It means you’re trying to fake out the search engines, to try to earn a higher ranking that the quality of your site’s content dictates as natural through manipulation of search engine ranking algorithms.”

Bing hasn’t been the first search engine to come out with this type of best practice’s guide. Google has been doing it for years now just not many people want to follow it. When the top two search engines in the world layout a best practices guide on how you should conduct your search engine optimization efforts it is time to listen.

Please take a look at the Bing Webmaster Post that talks about link building and SEM, it is a great read:

http://www.bing.com/community/blogs/webmaster/archive/2009/11/20/link-building-for-smart-webmasters-no-dummies-here-sem-101.aspx

Facebook and MySpace added to Google and Bing real-time search.

There has been a debate within the CMO community discussing why they should approve a Facebook page and a MySpace Page for their company and or employees.  Mashable did a very valuable update on where this all stands.  Based on this update, the debate is over.  Get your company pages up on Facebook and MySpace to gain real-time organic content search.  More important, be sure to tell your team and family to clean up their pages on each or to close the access to their page if it is currently public, unless they want to be searched real-time.

 Google Adds Facebook Pages to Real-time Search
Posted: 24 Feb 2010 04:26 PM PST
 Google has announced that it has added a new content source to its real-time search feature: Facebook Pages.
Google launched real-time search in December, providing a real-time feed of information from Yahoo Answers, Twitter, blogs, news websites, and other sources for hot or trending search results.
Two integrations have lagged though: MySpace and Facebook. Eight days ago, Google added MySpace updates to its stream. And now Google has added Facebook Pages to the mix.
Still, Google’s stream doesn’t include public Facebook profiles, something only rival search engine Bing can access. This limits the usefulness of today’s update, but we still welcome the addition

LinkedIn Strategy for how you connect. Lion, Turtle, HoundDog or Alley Cat.

Have you ever wondered why some people put [LION] after their name on LinkedIn?  Most CMOs are still trying to avoid LinkedIn except for people they know or want to know.  For others, there are strategies to how, what and why.  For myself, found out  I am more of an Alley Cat.  I like to connect, do it often, but want and need a connection as to why I have the contact. I do turn people down that I do not know.   So let’s try an experiment,  here is my linked in http://www.linkedin.com/in/karenkallet.  If you tell me that you came via this CMO Guide to Social Media blog, I will accept you.  However, tell me why you want the connection.  That is the Alley Cat in me.

 This blog from Community Marketing Blog lays out the why and what.  You need to decide which one are you and know if you see a tag on their name this is what it is meaning.

 Are You a LION, Turtle, HoundDog, or Alley Cat? What’s Your LinkedIn Strategy?

LI in Oz2
 LinkedIn is a fairly harmonious place.  People tend to act professional and when there are opposing opinions they typically become a case where people “agree to disagree”.  Things change though when you began discussing LIONS.  Suddenly the conversation isn’t so rosy.  

LION’s, for those who don’t know are open networkers.  They connect to just about anyone.  They see opportunity increasing as the number of connections increases.  Those who disagree see LIONS as simply driving their ego’s by counting the connections, as if the purpose of LinkedIn is to proudly claim to have 1,000’s of connections.

For the record I don’t consider myself a LION, yet I’m an open networker.  When writing my first LinkedIn book I identified three LinkedIn connection strategies.  This year I added a fourth to define how I now connect.

How you choose to connect will impact how you use LinkedIn and in the end your chances of finding success.

Before we look at the four connection strategies I want to make one point.  How you choose to connect on LinkedIn should be of no concern to anyone else.  It’s your network and your strategy.  As long as it works for you thats all that matters.

The Four LinkedIn Connection Strategies:

The LION
As stated above LIONS are completely open connectors.  They seek to increase their connections through actively sending out and accepting connection invitations.  While I’m sure there are a few who take pride in touting the specific number, the majority simply believe that large networks lead to more opportunity.

Steve Burda is a LION with over 30,000 connections.  I don’t know Steve but I’ve seen countless references to his taking time to help others.  So yes he has a large network, but no its not about the number.  Its about having the opportunity to help a significant number of people.  If this leads to new business for him, more power to him.

The Turtle
Turtles are the opposite of LIONS.  Turtles primarily only connect to those they know well.  They see value in having a tight network made up of individuals that they completely trust.  Their networks tend to be highly selective and can be counted on to pass on introductions, much like a private networking group.

I don’t know many Turtles but the ones I do know are like Steve interested in being a productive resource for those they choose to connect to.  LinkedIn is a way to enhance their offline networking making their existing relationships a little more connected.

The Hound Dog
When I first joined LinkedIn I was only aware of LIONS.  I knew right away that LinkedIn added an additional layer of connectivity to those I knew.  I also realized that it could help me meet other local business professionals that I did not know.

At each Chamber meeting they would pass out copies of everyone’s business cards.  After each meeting I would see who was on LinkedIn and then invite them to connect.  At the next Chamber meeting the connection provided a great ice breaker.  It also established connections with those people who only attended a single meeting.

I also used LinkedIn to seek out people I would like to connect with.  Doing this allowed me to establish connections with other business professionals who might help my clients, become a referral partner, and some who were prospects.  This ability to hunt for specific people led me to define the strategy as a Hound Dog.

A Hound Dog is someone who uses LinkedIn to connect to those they know, to connect to those they would like to know, and accepts invitations from those that would be beneficial to be connected to.  

For the first year that I was serious about using LinkedIn I followed this strategy.  Then one day I had a thought, “How do I know whether or not a connection I know could benefit from a connection that I didn’t know?”   The answer was that I didn’t know.

It was that at this point that I changed my strategy for connecting on LinkedIn. 

The Alley Cat
I still only send invitations to people I know or people that I have a specific reason for connecting to.  What changed is that I now accept invitations from just about anyone.  There is value in knowing your connections but there are also unexpected opportunities that develop from establishing new connections, known and unknown.

This connection strategy supports my overall LinkedIn strategy which is this:  I seek to provide value to and help as many people as possible.  Much of that value is provided through the Social Media Sonar blog, sharing tips and strategies with others on how to more effectively utilize LinkedIn and social media/networking.  Sometimes its through being the hub to connect two people.  At other times its through conducting workshops, writing LinkedIn books and guides, etc.  The more people I am connected to the more people that I can share with.

I believe that to create opportunity you have to first be willing to help others.  Then, by consistently sharing value over time, you allow people to move through the Process of Familiarity.  A process that has to happen before someone will choose to do business with you.

What I call the Process of Familiarity likely has been called many things by other people.   The three components are:

  • People need to Know You or at a Minimum Know Of You:  Often connecting or engaging in conversations will accomplish this.
  • People Must Like You or Have a Positive Opinion:  How you interact with others and the value of the content you share will help here.  If people like your content they will like you.
  • People Must Trust You:  Building trust is dependent upon engaging on conversations or sharing value consistently over time.  As people see you on an ongoing basis and are exposed to the value you share the “Like” will grow into “Trust”.

Through this process here’s what I’ve seen happen.  Each week I write one or two blog posts that show people how to utilize LinkedIn.  I then use the tools LinkedIn provides to communicate that there is a new blog post.  People visit the blog for the first time or as a repeat visitor.  At some point they check out my profile and learn what it is that I do and see how I can help them.  

If they like the content they begin to have a positive impression of me and this eventually moves to a sense of trust.  At this point if they ever have a need for my services I am top of mind and they will contact me.

Something else happens as well.  People like to share content on other Social Media sites so at some point they become my social media amplification system.  This introduces my blog to people outside of the communities I’ve built.

Wrap Up
The connection strategy you choose will depend upon how you want to use LinkedIn.  There is no right or wrong choice as long as your connection strategy supports the goals you have determined.  For me the change to an Alley Cat has helped generate 3 to 5 contacts per week about my services.

Which strategy are you using and why?  If you agree or disagree with the post please leave a comment.  Your perspective is as important as mine, so share it with everyone.

Sean Nelson is the author of the Social Media Sonar blog and has written three LinkedIn eBooks including one of the first books detailing how to strategically use LinkedIn to grow your business. “LinkedIn Marketing Secret Formula”.  He is a Partner in SONARconnects.”

WordPress adds Sitemap ping to blogs.

 The WordPress email newsletter had the following information on WordPress adding sitemap pings.  That is very good news since Google Caffeine launched and has changes the way your pages are now searched and ranked and you may be seeing a fall in your blog traffic.  The pings will help this fall off in readers and help to regain your blog traffic.  Be sure you are adding new blogs and keeping the content fresh. 

  

Reach Out and Ping Someone

Niall Kennedy | February 11, 2010 at 12:12 am | Tags: search, sitemap | Categories: search | URL: http://wp.me/pf2B5-Yj
” Publishing your blog on WordPress.com lets you focus on your content while we sweat the technical stuff, including helping your content reach a larger audience.

 We just turned on sitemap pings for all WordPress.com blogs. Now, immediately after you publish or delete a page or post, your WordPress.com blog sends a ping to Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Ask*. These immediate notifications help the major search engines receive your new content as quickly as possible (often within seconds), so your blog can show up in search results faster.  

Tools to make your content findable
Sitemap pings are just one of the ways WordPress.com helps your content reach a large audience moments after you hit “Publish.” Every blog includes support for webmaster validation through Google, Bing and Yahoo! webmaster portals. Post updates are sent through Ping-o-Matic!, a ping relay tool owned by the WordPress Foundation, to major feed reader and blog search engines. Our Publicize feature updates your Yahoo! and Twitter accounts with a short summary and a link back to your blog content. These are just some of the ways WordPress.com helps you find your audience. 

* Note: We only expose content to search engines for public blogs on WordPress.com.”

Do free promotion offers work? Follow the line to Dennys

Here is a photo that I took of the Denny’s Free breakfast crowd from the road as I was leaving today.

By the looks of things at my local Denny’s the Free Breakfast  promotion announced during the Superbowl was a sell out.  I drove into the parking lot to go to another business and could not find a place to park in three parking lots!  The crowds were pouring out of their cars, like they were going to the state fair.  The line was out the door and around the building.

 So give them credit for gaining trial.  Customer Engagement at it’s finest.  Customers using texts, blogs and emails all about the promotion is a social media strategists dream.   What about retention, I am not so sure.  Quality service, is in the hands of the wait staff and cooks.  Will people stand in line for free food? Yes… they will.  Will they come back and pay?… Denny’s will need to report of that.  ROI… priceless…