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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.

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Creating a video sitemap for Google search

Adding video to your website is a key element today,  just as adding social media elements is a must do in today’s world of organic search. To gain page one video placement you need to get the video indexed by Google.  We all know of pushing an XML site map to gain organic traffic to our content, however many do not know to add a video sitemap, in addition. Check with your webmaster or agency to be sure they know to do this.  The Quick Online blog had a great article on this a few months back, and it is worth revisiting or visiting for the first time, especially if you are adding videos to your site or are already using video.  The blog  also addresses, hosting videos on your site vs feeding from YouTube or DailyMotion.

How to Get Your Videos Indexed by Google  by Quick Online blog
March 1st, 2010
Guest post by Keiros.
How to get your videos listed on Google? Have you already noticed while performing a search on Google, those videos thumbnails displayed on the left side of some sites? They are definitely great traffic attractors, and having such a video associated with your site when being on 5th or 6th positions of the search results page may be better in terms of “click-thru-rate” than being on 1st position without it.
There is an additional bonus in having a video associated to your site: on some occasions, Google displays in a block titled “Video results for Keyword“, often on the 3rd or 5th position, several videos, and when it is the case, you can jump several positions and land directly on the first page to join an already existing video results block.

The trick is to find a search argument for which your page is already ranking well but not yet on the first page, with Google displaying a Video Results group on first page: you will benefit from the optimization work of those who made the way to the first page.

Found the perfect search request? All you need to do now is to make your video indexed by Google, and that’s the easiest part !

1.Put a video on your page : I mean a real video, hosted on your site, not on Youtube or DailyMotion. You need a .flv file (or .mpg, .avi, .mp4) and a video plugin that supports this kind of video formats. Jing is perfect to record onscreen action and make nice video tutorials.
2.Create a thumbnail of your video : that’s the thumbnail that Google will display on its search results page, so making a good quality thumbnail out of your video is an important step. Personally, I’ve found that 160×120 gif or jpg works well for that purpose….and they actually don’t need to be extracted from your video. Any image pertinent to the content of your video will make the trick.
3.Create a video sitemap : Video sitemaps are XML files similar to usual sitemaps but using a different syntax. See an example.
4.Submit your video sitemap to Google : Video sitemaps can be submitted in Google Webmaster Tools exactly as a standard sitemap. If you had not yet registered your site in Google Webmaster Tool, that’s the perfect occasion to do it now.

Video Sitemap example

( See HTML on the Quickonline site)

The video-specific XML tags are pretty straightforward, but if you need more detail, you can check this page on Google Webmaster Central: Creating Video Sitemaps. Don’t forget to optimize your video sitemap by inserting your main keywords in the video tags, it will give an additional boost to your ranking if done meaningfully.

Guest author Keiros is an outsourcing and infrastructure management consultant, and a contributor to SEO Chat Forum. You can also write guest posts and share your Google tips with our readers.

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.”

What other blogs are saying about you and your products.

Blogs and monitoring of blogs and what is being said about you is a hot topic these days.  How do you monitor? Do you pay to monitor? What tools are available to you to monitor blogs and what is being said about you or your company is all the discussion in the CMO’s mind.

Social Mouths blog had some good ideas of free listening posts for your products and services, beyond the paid services for social media monitoring such as Radian 6 and CrimsonHexagon. 

Here is the short list URLs and Free blog listening tools:

IceRocket

Blog Pluse

Blog line search

Google blog search

Paid Services:

Radian 6

Crimsonhexagon.

Here is the blog I was reading on the subject.

Social Mouths blog 

Do You Know What Other Blogs Are Saying About You?

listeningDo you know if you are being mentioned on other blogs? Did you know there are ways of tracking this? And, why is this important anyways?

In this post, I’ll explain why paying attention to what other blogs say is important and how to be aware of these mentions.

So let’s get started…

Why You Should Care

SEO

When you get mentioned by another blog, the author usually links back to your blog/site and as you know, getting backlinks is one of the most important things you can do to your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as they can improve your page ranking. The search engines want to know if your site is relevant.

Sentiment

The next thing you need to worry about is sentiment. Is the comment positive or negative? Of course you don’t want people saying something negative about you or your services. When you track these mentions at least you have the opportunity to participate, maybe try to do something to turn an unhappy customer into a happy one. Damage control.

If it’s a positive mention, it is also a good opportunity to engage in the conversation.

Reciprocity

Be human. Be thankful and participate by leaving a comment or giving the post a tweet. Not to make you feel obligated but return the favor if you can, there is a good chance the other blog is somehow related to your topic.

Don’t ignore it, keep this blog in mind.

Let’s Look At An Example

Herbert from Penn State | Outreach Marketing did a very, very nice piece sharing a post from SocialMouths on his “Why Is Social Media Not Working For You” (Thanks Herbert).

Outreach Marketing

OK, so this is an extreme example and it’s not always like this, the mention can be a simple link to your blog or to a specific post. The point here is how to find this, right?

Tools

There are many tools you can use to track these mentions, feel free to share your favorite ones in the comment section of this post. Here a couple you can try:

Go to these sites and do a search based on your blog’s name or URL.

IceRocket

icerocket

BlogPulse (From Nielsen)

blogpulse

Other tools you can use are Bloglines Search or Google’s Blog Search.

Get Alerts

rss readerAll these services and most of them out there allow you to get the search results on RSS. You should subscribe and organize them on your RSS Reader. The point is to get alerts and be able to react as soon as possible, there is no point if you come back a month after the post was published.

Final Tought

The social web gives you the opportunity to engage in ways traditional media can’t but if you don’t pay attention, those opportunities are wasted.

One more thing, when you mention somebody or share a post from somebody else on your blog, make sure you do it properly so you give credit and the other end is aware of it.

Happy Listening!”

Jing is free software that adds visuals to your online conversations

Jing by Techsmith, is a tool that has captured my attention. It is a simple to use tool for instant sharing. It can be used for screen shots, videos, call outs and to show people what you are seeing on your screen with a click of a button with a linking URL.  Much better than the process of screen shot, save to word ect.  It sits on your desk top as a yellow half-moon ready for when you want to screen shot with three choices of capture, history and more.

Their website says it is to add visuals to your online conversation. There is a free version and a paid version for adding video. With the free version you also get 2 mg on Screencast which is a nice benefit.

Here is a few ways they suggest using Jing

  • collaborateCollaborate on a design project
  • share snapshotShare a snapshot of a document
  • speechNarrate your vacation photos
  • bugCapture that pesky bug in action
  • family tech supportShow Dad how to use iTunes
  • homeworkComment verbally on students’ homework
  • tidbitsPost tidbits from your life on Twitter or Facebook

What I also like is that is integrated with their other programs, that are more complex.

Screencast.com Screencast.  It not only provides free storage and instant sharing of your Jing content…it’s also a super place to share your high-quality videos, images, presentations, and all manner of digital content.

 

Snagit Snag-It . This Swiss-army knife of screen capture picks up where Jing leaves off.  Powerful image editing, scrolling window capture, cursor capture, tagging, search, and rugged good looks.

Camtasia Studio Camtasia Studio.  Jing’s big brother on the video side—and the ideal choice for creating longer, more polished screen videos. Camtasia Studio can edit your Jing videos, too.

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

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.”