Blogging Should be Your First Social Media Platform

blog word cloud

There are many social media “gurus” out that would have you believe that your first step into social media should be Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn or maybe something else. Many will even tell you can skip building a website and use one of these platforms as your main internet presence. There are so many choices out there, how do you make the right decision?

These are all great places to be, and yes you should have a presence on the platforms where your target market is. However social media platforms are well known for changing their terms or algorithm without notice. What do you do if you are using Facebook as your main or only presence and they decide to eliminate Company Pages for the next big thing? You might have to start over from scratch.

There are so many choices out there, how do you make the right decision?

I’m a big believer that your website should be the center of your online universe. So the first step you should take to get your company into social media, is to start a blog.

Here are 3 reasons why:

  1. You control the format, structure and the way it looks.
  2. You control how people find your blog. Facebook recently changed their algorithm for the news feed and many brands are feeling the sting because they audience is no longer seeing their posts.
  3. You control the analytics and database. By using lead capture forms, calls to action and other lead capture techniques on your blog, you can create a database of prospects and customers that you can directly contact. Plus, no third party company can use them or take them away from you.

Bonus: You can still use other social media platforms, but use them to drive traffic to your blog!

digital marketing strategy

The Internet in 60 Seconds

60 seconds may not seem like much time at all, but look at what happens online every 60 seconds.

the internet in 60 seconds

SEO Best Practices for Blogging

I recently had a client ask about SEO best practices for creating title tags for blog posts for their network of bloggers. Currently when the title and link to each blog post shows up in their network it shows a very generic title that gives very little indication to what the post is really about. So, below is description of SEO best practices for blogging networks.

First you need to ask a few questions.

  • What’s important for the blogs?
  • Do you want people to find them because they are part of the Blogging network, for keywords, for the person that is writing, etc?

This will determine the order of what you include in the title of each blog post.

Also are the writers aware of SEO practices. Is this a recommendation for them as well? Do they know to include the main topic of the blog post in the title? Witty or fun titles are nice, but may not do much for SEO.

Below are some examples:

  1. For example:  You have three elements: The Network, the author and the subject or title (including keywords) of the post. If the most important thing is that people find the blogs because they are part of the blogging  network, the second most important element is the subject/title of the post and finally the author is third in importance, then the structure would look like this:Network Blogs: Improving Your Health – John’s Blog
  2. If the subject/title of the post is most important, the author is 2nd and the network is 3rd:Improving Your Health: John’s Blog – Network Blogs
  3. If the author is most important, subject/title is 2nd and network is 3rd;John’s Blog: Improving Your Health – Network Blogs

Long story short, the most important element should come first followed by second and third, etc. Please see the examples below.

Is Mashable Subtly Convincing People to Say Nice Things About Them?

I came across this today when I was reading a post on Mashable.com and I found it a bit curious.

Mashable comments

I guess you can interpret “constructive” as constructive criticism, but it sort of comes across as “say nice things so the community will like you?”

What do you think is this a good practice or does it sound like they are subtly saying they only want you to post nice comments.

Introducing TriStarr Staffing’s New and Improved Blog

I’m happy to announce the launch, or I guess I should say “re-launch” of the TriStarr Staffing blog.

TriStarr Staffing is one of our oldest clients. We’ve worked with them in many different areas of internet marketing including; SEO, Social Media, Website Analytics and Pay Per Click Adverting.

Today we are launching their new and improved blog. TriStarr’s previous blog, which we launched on January 23, 2009, was hosted on the free blogger.com service. The new blog is integrated into their main site with the sub domain: blog.tristarrjobs.com.

TriStarr Blog

Use this link for TriStarr Staffing Blog RSS feed.

Way back when we launched the blog in 2009 Scott Fiore wrote a post setting his goals for the blog and a little bit about the company. I’d like to share it with you here:

My trusted web advisor has convinced me to set up a blog. I’m old, and don’t really understand this stuff, but agreed to give it a try. What I hope to do is post news and other stuff here that may help people in their job search, career, etc.

We’ll see how it turns out.

Here’s a little about TriStarr.

TriStarr works with leading employers throughout Lancaster, Harrisburg, and York, Pa., giving you access to some of the most desirable administrative jobs available. We can help you secure temporary employment or a full-time, permanent position. At TriStarr Staffing, we are always on the lookout for experienced and motivated administrative and professional/management talent—high caliber individuals with a “get-it-done” attitude and the skills to back it up. If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place.

Scott, it’s two years later and so far so good! I’m looking forward to working with you to build on the base we’ve created so far. So, let’s get blogging!

Wondering About the Cost of Social Media? Think: “Time is Money”

Their is a misconception among a lot of businesses and business owners that Social Media is free. When I come across people that believe this, I try to explain to them that even though many of the tools and platforms are free, using the free tools correctly is not. The old adage always comes to mind:  “Time is Money.”  Here’s some data to back up that up.

Social Media Examiner recently published their annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report (<– Get the full report). Some of the most interesting data to come out of the report is the amount of time that marketers spend on Social Media:

A significant 58% of marketers are using social media for 6 hours or more each week and 34% for 11 or more hours weekly. It’s interesting to note that 15% of marketers spend more than 20 hours each week on social media.

Those with more years of social media experience spend more time each week conducting social media activities. For example, 63% of people with 3 or more years of experience spend more than 10 hours a week doing social media activities. Only 41% of those with 1 to 3 years experience spend that much time.

time commitment for social media

I typically estimate that companies need to invest at least 5 hours a week in Social Media in order to see a real benefit. In my opinion this is an absolute minimum! This includes, blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, forums, video, social bookmarking as well as others.

How much time do you spend on your Social Media activities?

Some other useful reading:

Social Media ROI – What’s Your Plan?
How much do you need to budget for Social Media in 2011?

How To: Five Things You Can do With Social Media Marketing

5 Tips to Avoid Being Harvested by Google’s Farmer Update

By now you’ve probably heard of the Farmer Update that Google released in February for it’s algorithm. The update was primarily focused on cleaning up Google’s result pages by removing content farms. Content farms are sites that simply publish large amounts of content of little value in order to gain a high ranking with the search engines.

Supposedly only about 12 percent of Google search queries in the U.S. were affected. Now, you may think your site is pristine and won’t be affected by the update, but here are five tips make sure you are right.

  1. Be Original: Make sure what you are posting is unique in some way. If you want to use something you found elsewhere on the web.  A video, a survey, a chart, etc., make sure you add value.
  2. High Quality: Avoid simple mistakes such as misspellings, old information and get the facts right.
  3. Be an Authority: Have expertise in a certain subject? Write about it. Don’t just spit out something you know nothing about.
  4. Great Presentation: Break your content in to easily consumed chunks. Make it easy to read and engaging for visitors.
  5. Be Sure to Bring Value: If you follow the first four tips you should be on the right track to adding value. Plus, this doesn’t just help in the eyes of Google, but real people too!

    How much do you need to budget for Social Media in 2011?

    I came across a blog post today from a respected speaker in the Social Media Industry (Mack Callier) about costs for social media projects and I thoughtSocial media dollars it might help some of you with budgeting. The data is kind of a barometer for the industry.

    One of the Mack points out and I completely agree with is that you can’t cookie cutter social media. When talking with consultants or marketing firms, if they try to give you prices without asking any questions, then you are better off moving on and finding someone that is really interested in understanding your business and why you want to use social media.

    Here are some of the questions we’ll ask you:

    • Why do you want to use social media. What are your goals?
    • Who is your target market? Do you know where they hang out?
    • Do you have the resources to manage your social media efforts in house after it is launched?
    • ETC..

    A little background on the data.

    These figures come from rates shared with me by fellow consultants and agencies that specialize in social media marketing, in addition to my own research, as well as what I charge for similar services. – MC

    Here are some of the numbers:

    Blog:

    Launch a blog from the ground-up, outsource all content creation (including customer interaction, handling responses to comments, etc) — $1,000-$12,000 a month

    Most Charge — $3,000-$5,000 a month

    Launch a blog from the ground-up, outsource some content creation — $1,000-$8,000 a month

    Most Charge — $2,000-$3,500 a month

    Restructure an existing blog to improve your efforts — $1,000-$5,000 a month for 3-6 months

    Most Charge — $2,000-$4,000 a month for 3-6 months

    Ghostwriting blog posts — $50-$500 per

    Most Charge — $100-$250 per

    Twitter:

    Launch a new presence on Twitter and outsource all content creation and customer interaction — $1,000-$7,500 a month

    Most Charge — $2,000-$4,000 a month

    Launch a new presence on Twitter and then provide ongoing training for company — $1,000-$6,000 a month

    Most Charge — $1,000-$3,000 a month

    Restructure an existing Twitter presence to improve your efforts — $1,000-$4,000 a month for 3-6 months

    Most Charge — $1,000-$2,500 a month

    Limited coaching to improve your existing efforts on Twitter — $1,000-$4,000 a month

    Most Charge — $1,000-$2,500 a month

    Facebook:

    Launch a Facebook Page from the ground-up, outsourcing all content creation and customer interactions — $2,000-$9,000 a month

    Most Charge — $2,500-$5,000 a month

    Launch a Facebook Page from the ground-up, with limited ongoing training — $1,500-$7,500 a month for 3-6 months

    Most Charge — $2,000-$4,000 a month

    Social Media Strategy:

    Comprehensive Social Media Strategy Creation, assuming outsourcing of all content creation through all channels(minimum 2)  — $3,000-$20,000 a month

    Most Charge — $4,000-$7,000 a month

    Comprehensive Social Media Strategy Creation, assuming limited outsourcing of content creation and/or ongoing training  — $3,000-$15,000 a month for 4-12 months

    Most Charge — $3,000-$6,000 a month

    Audit of existing Social Media Strategy Including Recommendations for Improvement — $2,000-$10,000

    Most Charge — $2,000-$5,000

    Social Media Consulting:

    Hourly rates — $50-$500/Hr

    Most Charge  — $75-$200/Hr

     

    On-Site Training/Workshops (All fees excluding travel expenses)

    1-2 Hours — $500-$5,000

    Most Charge — $500-$2,000

    Half-Day (4 hours) – $1,000-$10,000

    Most Charge — $1,000-$4,000

    Full-Day (6-8 hours) — $2,000-$50,000

    Most Charge — $2,500-$5,000

    One thing you need to keep in mind is that when a consulted does a training session or webinar there is a lot of behind the scenes work. I very rough estimate for calculating how much is 2 to 1. So for every hour of presenting there is at least 2 hours of preparation.

    Read Mack Collier’s full post here: How much does Social Media cost companies in 2011?

    How To: Five Things You Can do With Social Media Marketing

    social media handymanSo you made the resolution to get a social media plan off the ground in 2011. Great! It’s already January 4, so let’s get started!

    Social media marketing is the newcomer to the marketing scene and continues to be a hot topic. Many companies fail when they attempt to leverage it as a marketing tool. Often they just don’t understand what the potential of social media marketing really is. This list will help you see what it can do for your company:

    1. Bring links to you website
      Link building is a key component of search engine optimization and social media is a great way to get inexpensive links. Although many social media platforms use what’s called nofollow links (nofollow links tell the search engine bots not to follow the links) there are plenty of ways to get follow links as well. Don’t forget that blogs are also a form of social media. By posting relevant content and then promoting it through social media platforms you create many more chances to be found by bloggers, who in turn may post a link to your content in their blog. Plus, even if people link to you content via social media platforms with nofollow links, guess what, people follow those links.
    2. Bring traffic to your website.
      This ties into the links as well. As you create good content and link to it through relevant posts on social media platforms, this alone can drive traffic to your site. But when it really gets interesting is when an influencer gets a hold of your content and shares it with their connections and those connections share it with their connections this can quickly turn into a stream of traffic being driven to your site. This is what I like to call word of mouth on steroids.
    3. Create consumer brand awareness.
      It’s definitely true that brand awareness is good for your business, social media can help you create a good first impression as well as keep your products in the minds of consumers. If you are engaged with social media marketing and continue to post relevant thoughtful information, when consumers are in need of your product they will remember they saw your posts online and come to you. Recommendations are also a big part of social media marketing, and not just review site. Every time someone includes a link, or shares your content they are essentially giving a recommendation.
    4. Drive conversions.
      A conversion can be many things depending on your objectives. It could be downloading a whitepaper, purchasing a product online, filling out a contact form, etc. Whatever you consider to be a conversion. A well thought out social media marketing plan can drive people to convert.
    5. Start conversations.
      Today’s consumers don’t want to be spoken to they want to converse and they are looking for input from their peers. If you are getting links and traffic from your social media marketing, that’s because people are talking about you. On the flip side if you can get conversations started, then there’s a good chance you will also see more traffic and links to you site.

    Where Do You Get Your News?

    I participated in a poll today on LinkedIn: Where do you usually get your business news? Before selecting my choice I could have guessed what most people would answer, but I was quite surprised at how clearly lopsided the results were.
    (Click the image to enlarge)
    where do you get you business news?

    You do have to consider that this is a bit of a one sided poll. I would venture to guess that the people that responded are above the average when it comes to using the internet. Someone that only gets their news from print is less likely to be using LinkedIn and to actually participate in the poll. It would be interesting to see what the professions of the respondents are. Or if there was some other way to set up a control group. Anyway, the data does make a great argument for why businesses need to be online with almost twice as many people getting their business news online as apposed to offline.

    Link to the poll: How do you usually get your business news?