DSL Marketing Myrlte Beach

Monday, November 30, 2009

Creating Link Bait: 7 Tips for Social Media

Brought to you by Brent Csutoras

For years now, people have been buzzing about social media and the opportunity it provides to marketers to drive tons of traffic, brand awareness, conversions, and -- most importantly -- links. Even Matt Cutts, Google's head of Webspam, has gone on record numerous times praising social media as a great opportunity to get links in a pure and natural way.

It's no secret that so-called "link bait" gets a lot of natural quality inbound links, and that social media has the ability to garner massive visibility for your brand and its content. But just knowing that doesn't mean it is easy to succeed with any link bait you create.

Creating a piece of link bait that will succeed in social media and score lots of links from authoritative sites takes a lot of work and experience. Following these seven tips will help you get started. Before you know it, you'll be creating pieces of link bait that will improve your chances at succeeding in social media, while garnering tons of high-quality, natural links.

Tip 1: Make sure your site is worthy of being linked to.

Believe it or not, people do care about how your site looks. The way it is designed, the effort you put into the layout, and whether it looks current -- all these things say a lot about your company. No one wants to link to a site they think lacks quality. After all, linking is a sort of recommendation for that site.

So, if you want people to link to your brand's site, make sure your site is:

Up to date: Use coding and design elements that make you look current and contemporary.
Focused: Don't have a bunch of ads in the content area or distracting banners.
Polite: Don't have pop-up ads, pop-under ads, audio ads, or offers that interrupt or distract people from viewing your content.
Of course, many business models won't allow you to strip away all attempts to convert a user, so you may need to implement these changes for only the individual pieces of link bait you create.

When I first launched one of my side project sites, it had a basic default WordPress theme. I frequently noticed that when I would break a news story that would go viral, high-level authority sites would omit the proper credit link identifying my site as the source for the article.

It wasn't until I re-evaluated the site and decided to invest in a custom, quality design that the good links really started rolling in. Now I get links from Wired, CNET, The Guardian, and many other highly authoritative sites.

Bottom line: How can you expect someone to take your website seriously if you don't?

Tip 2: Make your link bait worthy of a link.

This seems like a no brainer, but you would be amazed at how many companies create and push mediocre pieces of link bait that really don't deserve any links or success at all.

Just because you write a list explaining "10 ways to save on your taxes" doesn't mean your content is any different or better than the 200 other tax articles people write (or repurpose) at the beginning of each tax season.

You need to make sure your content is:

Current: Think about any current events or news stories when writing your link bait. See if there is anything you can reference or apply your concept to that might help it relate to current discussions.
Unique: Try to find at least a few angles to your link bait that is unique. This ensures it is different from all the other articles on the same general topic.
Comprehensive: This is one of the biggest mistakes people make when writing link bait. You need to make sure your content is comprehensive and doesn't leave people with unanswered questions or feeling like they took nothing away from the experience.

Tip 3: Be visual and easy to read.

Of course you want people to read your content, but have you ever thought about making your content easy to read and digest?

Break up your content: When readers see a big block of content, they are often intimidated. They feel they must read an entire paragraph within one breath. Break up your content and make it easy to digest, even when it is not strictly required.
Choose the right font type and size: This starts to delve into personal opinion, but many times I come across articles where the font type and size has left me not wanting to read the content. Make sure your font is easy to read and inviting.
Be visual: Add images to your content to help drive your message. Everyone likes pictures, and they can make your content seem more inviting and exciting. Video can also be a great addition to an article.

Tip 4: Always go one step further.

Whenever you think your link bait is good, take it one step further. These days "good content" is really not good enough. To distinguish yourself from the thousands of good articles pushed in social media every day, you need really great content.

Once you feel your link bait is finished, review it one last time and consider whether there is any other aspect you can add to it. Look for a few more references, a related story or aspect, or any associated images and/or videos to add that would improve your existing content.

If you challenge yourself, you can always find at least one way to make your link bait a little better. In the end, that final touch can be the difference between a popular piece of content and a largely ignored piece of content. The former will be the one that scores all those quality links you want.

Tip 5: Be viral -- really viral.

A lot of people get so caught up in their product that they forget what it means to go viral. Going viral with a piece of link bait is when you have everyone interested -- even when they typically would not be interested in the topic you are pushing.

For example, interest in urinals is not widespread. However, if you were to write an article about the craziest urinals around the world, then almost anyone would be interested in taking a look.

So when you're thinking about your link bait, try to think about how you can appeal to the broadest audience of people on the web and not just your particular niche.

Tip 6: Plan your campaign.

Each social community is a little different than the next, so make sure you do some research and consider the trends of the users in the social communities in which you want to succeed. You don't really want to put Apple down on a site like Digg, where users tend to be Apple fans. So when considering your link bait topic, ask yourself these questions about the social community you want to succeed in:

What position do the users take on your specific topic? Are they typically for or against it? This will help you pick the right tone for your writing.
Is there a category that is lacking quality submissions? This might present an opportunity to write content around that category to increase your chance of success.
Has anyone done a similar article recently? If so, you might want to consider a different topic, since most users do not like to see the same general content again and again. There are only so many articles on how Windows 7 is better than Vista that someone is willing to read and support.

Tip 7: Make your link bait easy to spread and link to.

People love to share and tell others about great content. However, most people's time is becoming more and more limited. Between sites like Facebook and Twitter, reading emails, and checking their favorite sites, online time is precious -- don't make it hard for someone to share your content.

Make sure you have:

A good title: Many times people have only enough space to share your link and the article title. So make the title descriptive and as short as possible. Don't leave people trying to figure out the best way to describe the link they are sharing, as they will often give up.
A good description: Having a good, yet short, paragraph near the beginning of your content will help people who want to submit your article or share it in other social communities. It can also help when it comes time for someone to link to your content through a quote on their own article or site.
A share button: It is a good idea to provide your visitors with the option to share your content on their favorite social community. I would avoid having too many buttons on your site and just include the ones that your visitors are most likely to use.

Successful social media link bait is not always easy to create, but these seven tips should get you on the right track to churning out high-quality, link-worthy content. Just remember: The results of even one successful campaign can make it all worthwhile.

Brent Csutoras is a seasoned internet marketing consultant who primarily specializes in social media, viral link bait, and search engine marketing strategies.

Mobile predictions for 2010

Brought to you by Noah Elkin

It's amazing how quickly we return to the hyperbole (emphasis here on the "hype") of yore. Google announces it plans to buy AdMob for $750 million, and the next thing you know, we start hearing that next year is the year of mobile. This is hardly anything new: Industry boosters have perennially declared the year of mobile every year for the past decade, and somehow it never quite works out to be the year of mobile. Next year promises to be no exception. In fact, we'd all be better off reinstituting the moratorium on declarations of the year of mobile in favor of focusing on the serious work marketers need to do to bridge the gap with mobile consumers.

The outlook for mobile is still positive, mind you, but it's possible to have steady, even solid growth without the need for any "year of" declarations. After a decade or more of unfulfilled expectations, we can say with near-certainty that, Google or no Google, mobile advertising and marketing are not going to "explode" next year or even the year after. Instead, mobile will continue to grow incrementally as more brands and agencies fold it into their marketing mix, a trend I pointed to in my recent outlook for mobile advertising.

At the same time, it's also worth remembering that there are two sides to any marketing equation: the marketer and the consumer. On the marketer side, the AdMob acquisition comes at a time of renewed enthusiasm for mobile. A case in point is Millennial Media's recent "state of the industry" study, conducted in conjunction with online knowledge base DM2PRO. The study highlighted two key trends for 2010: more marketers planning on employing mobile advertising in the year ahead, and bigger budgets, especially among the brand marketers surveyed.

The vast majority of respondents to the Millennial/DM2PRO survey also indicated that the mobile campaigns they've run performed at least satisfactorily against campaign goals, although brands and direct marketers were more apt to say their campaigns exceeded expectations and publishers were most likely to say they underperformed. Overall, though, this is a positive finding -- it shows that mobile is working for brands, agencies, PR firms, and publishers alike.

Yet, many respondents, including both marketers and publishers, classified themselves as "non-mobile." Most cited a lack of resources and a lack of knowledge as their primary barriers to entry. Nearly half of the publishers and a little more than one-quarter of the marketers who declared themselves to be non-mobile said the availability of reputable data demonstrating positive ROI would encourage them to adopt mobile advertising. These results suggest that even with all of the positive momentum in the mobile space, gaps still exist on the marketer side.

A mobile divide persists among consumers as well, although it is closing rapidly as mobile users voraciously upgrade to ever more capable smartphones. The NPD Group noted recently that more U.S. consumers have mobile data subscriptions than last year, and the Yankee Group's November 2009 "Mobile Commerce for the Holidays" webinar likewise indicated strong consumer demand for multimedia smartphones with data plans. Similarly, the third wave of BIA/Kelsey Group's "Mobile Market View," an annual mobile consumer study, found significant growth in both mobile internet usage and more "advanced" behaviors such as video viewing, purchasing, and sending.

The more relevant gap that persists is the one between marketers and consumers. As consumers' usage of mobile devices has grown more sophisticated, their attitudes toward mobile marketing have become more negative. BIGresearch's "Simultaneous Media Usage" study indicates that relative to last year, more consumers now dislike receiving text ads, video ads, and text voicemail ads, and more feel that mobile ads constitute an invasion of privacy.

These are not positive findings for marketers, but they beg the question of cause. It's tempting to chalk it up to familiarity breeding contempt, but that seems too simplistic an explanation. When asked directly about their attitude toward advertising in any channel, consumers routinely respond negatively, so more likely, it is a function of the ongoing disconnect between consumers and the marketers trying to reach them.

Marketers can take heart from some of BIGresearch's findings, namely that the percentage of adult consumers who feel mobile ads can be helpful in making a purchase and are acceptable as long as they get content in return both remained stable, dropping by an insignificant 0.3 percent year-over-year. Within this sliver of hope lie the keys for marketers. To succeed in mobile, they will need to provide consumers with a measure (and measurable degree) of utility, relevance, and entertainment.

So let's pause to celebrate the strides mobile has made, but let's also build on the momentum. There's still plenty of work to be done, gaps to be bridged, and problems to be solved before we truly reach that oft-promised year of mobile. With much on the agenda, it's safe to say that 2010 promises to be an exciting year for mobile.

Noah Elkin is a senior analyst at eMarketer, where he covers trends in mobile marketing, content, and commerce.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

5 Handy iPhone Apps to Download For Holiday Shopping

With Thanksgiving one week away, we are all looking forward to spending some time with our families and extending our gratitude for what we are thankful for. Once we are all stuffed with delicious turkey and stuffing, it's time to take an 8 hour nap and prepare for what lies ahead. You guessed it, the dreaded Black Friday. Black Friday is the busiest shopping day of the year. It consists of thousands of shoppers standing outside of a Walmart or Best Buy for seven hours to get a 50" plasma TV for $300. For those of you who enjoy getting huge discounts on the latest technology, I have compiled a list of my top 5 iPhone apps for the holidays that will help make your shopping a little easier.

#1 - RedLaser ($1.99)
RedLaser is an impossibly accurate barcode scanning app.
It searches for low online prices from thousands of retailers using Google Product Search, Amazon, and more. RedLaser allows faster scanning by bypassing the use of AutoFocus. It uses state-of-the-art barcode recognition that can read virtually any product barcode.
This app is currently the #4 Top Grossing app in the iPhone's store. This is an app that pays for itself after one use. Phenomenal technology and a fantastic buy at $1.99.

#2 - AroundMe (FREE)
AroundMe allows you to quickly find out information about your surroundings.
How many times have you found yourself in need of finding the closest gas station? AroundMe quickly identifies your position and allows you to choose the nearest bank, bar, gas station, hospital, hotel, movie theatre, restaurant, supermarket, and taxi. AroundMe shows you a complete list of all the businesses in the category you have tapped on along with the distance from where you are.
For every listing, you can choose to see its location on a map, view the route from where you are, add the information to your contact list, or even email the information to a friend. The nearby listing allows you to find information using Wikipedia about what is around you.
You can't beat this app for the price!

#3 - Shopper ($0.99)
Making and sharing a shopping list has never been easier or more convenient.
With Shopper, you create and add to your shopping list whenever you think of things you need to buy. Type in the names of items, take a photo of them, or pick from the large list of shopping items that comes built-in. Sync your list with other Shopper users and they can always view your up-to-date list! Your entire family’s needs are with you whenever you need it.
When you’re shopping, check off the items as you go. Your shopping list is with you all the time!
This seems to make life a whole lot easier and the $0.99 price tag is quite miniscule considering you are saving yourself money every time you use it.

#4 - MapQuest 4 Mobile (FREE)
Everyone is familiar with MapQuest. This is just a hand-held version. With this mobile app, you can save maps and routes on mapquest.com and retrieve them on your iPhone. The new MapQuest Place Carousel allows you to easily display locations for hotels, movie theatres, gas stations, and more with a single tap. The "Find Me" feature utilizes iPhone GPS to plot your approximate location on a map. This app also contains walking directions so you can find your on foot destination directly by utilizing pedestrian walkways.
While I realize that the iPhone has its own built-in GPS, this app seems very helpful in finding locations of various points on a nearby map. The walking feature is really cool, plus its free!

#5 - Urbanspoon (FREE)
Because everyone has to eat, right? During your shopping adventure, take some time and enjoy a nice meal. If you can't decide on a place to eat or don't know where anything is, that's where Urbanspoon comes in handy. With a simple flick of the wrist, the Urbanspoon app will take your location, randomly mix in a genre of food, and a random pricing and it will suggest a place nearby for you to dine. It's as easy as pie!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Dictionary Word of the Year: 'Unfriend'

Brought to you by Doug Gross, CNN
It's prone to cause drama in the online world. And, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, it's the word of the year.

"Unfriend" beat out a tech-heavy field that included "netbook," "hashtag" and "sexting" to take the annual honor. "It has both currency and potential longevity," said Christine Lindberg, a language researcher for Oxford's U.S. dictionary program. "In the online social networking context, its meaning is understood, so its adoption as a modern verb form makes this an interesting choice for Word of the Year."

Oxford defines "unfriend," a verb, thusly: "To remove someone as a 'friend' on a social networking site such as Facebook."
Every year, Oxford tracks how the English language is changing. Researchers debate the merits of newly birthed terms and choose their word of the year "to reflect the ethos of the year and its lasting potential as a word of cultural significance and use."

A hashtag is the symbol (#) used on Twitter posts to allow them to be found more easily by other users, a netbook is a small portable laptop, and "sexting" is the act of sending sexually explicit texts or photos on a mobile phone.
Other tech-related finalists this year were "paywall," a way of blocking parts of a Web site to all but paying customers, and "intexicated," the state of being distracted while driving because of sending a text message.

The economy provided "zombie bank," a financial institution still operating even though its liabilities are greater than its assets, and politics brought us "birther," which Oxford describes as "a conspiracy theorist who challenges President Obama's U.S. birth certificate."

On blogs Tuesday, debate about the decision was ongoing. Chief among the issues of dispute: whether "unfriend" or "defriend" was the proper word for weeding someone from one's online circle. "Frustrated that 'unfriend' is the word of the year. It's definitely 'defriend' when referencing Facebook," one Twitter user wrote, adding the hashtag #dictionaryfail. Others defended the choice: " 'Defriend' makes me think of 'defoliate' and, well, I dunno, it sounds weird," one wrote. Oxford spokesman Christian Purdy said researchers found that "unfriend" was more commonly used. Facebook spokeswoman Meredith Chin said that, both internally and on the site, Facebook uses several terms for the act of removing a friend. She said site managers now are considering making "unfriend" the official term.

"Overall, we're thrilled that the idea of people connecting, or even unconnecting, with each other on sites like Facebook has officially become part of the lexicon," she said. For the past few years, Oxford and other dictionaries that pick words of the year have leaned heavily on the digital world.

In 2004, Merriam-Webster kicked off the trend by adding "blog" to its lexicon. The Webster's New World Dictionary went with "overshare" last year, inspired in part by the habit of spewing too much personal information on social networking sites and blogs.

With gas prices spiking, Oxford's word last year was "hypermiling," the act of conserving gasoline by making fuel-saving changes to one's automobile and driving habits.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New Social Networking Site for Webmasters and Internet Marketers Launched at PickySite.com

Los Angeles, CA (PRWEB) November 17, 2009 -- PickySite announces the launch of PickySite.com, a brand new social networking community focused on Web design, development and promotion. At PickySite, webmasters, Internet marketers and other users can start a blog; share interesting ideas, tips and tricks about Web development and design; and start conversations with other people.

"We are proud to launch PickySite.com and to provide Internet marketers, webmasters and anyone interested in various Web-based concepts a comprehensive site to gather, share ideas and develop relationships. PickySite's content is defined solely by its members," says Vadim Smokvin, marketing communications specialist at PickySite.
PickySite is a blogging platform with a unique voting system. On PickySite, anyone can start a personal, group or corporate blog to share interesting information, links and photos with other community members; to start conversations around posts; or to post comments and vote on others' posts. Interesting or important articles will be featured on PickySite's homepage, provided it gets a required number of votes from readers. A whole community and guests will see the posts made by the user on the front-page and visit the user's blog.

As most of the users of PickySite are Web professionals, the Web site presents a valuable resource of exclusive information. Currently, PickySite blogs cover 38 topics, including Web design, Web development, search engine optimization, social media, link building, blogging, Photoshop tutorials, affiliate marketing, hosting, site audit and video SEO.

At PickySite, individuals have many opportunities to share ideas and knowledge, and to find partners and build relationships. For companies, a corporate blog on PickySite is a great way to grow a brand, develop and strengthen a positive reputation, market products, and interact with clients, partners and the greater business community to influence decision making.

As a service provider, the user can showcase his or her work in the Portfolio section of the Web site, allowing prospective customers to browse through the portfolio and select the best specialist to do their project.

PickySite also has a jobs section, where people looking for a job can post their resumes and search for a job in the database of vacancies, which is updated regularly.

More information about PickySite can be found online at www.pickysite.com.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Email on smartphones? There's a tip for that

Brought to you by Jordan Cohen

The rapid adoption of smart phones is exploding the boundaries that have traditionally divided email and mobile marketing. While these devices were once primarily business tools, the Nielsen Company recently reported that more consumers than ever are using smartphones, with a remarkable 72 percent increase in the number of owners between Q2 2008 and Q2 2009.

Mobile phones already outnumber personal computers by 4 to 1, according to UK.-based mobile consultancy Wireless Expertise; and with the massive popularity of Apple's iPhone (and its competitors rushing to catch up technologically), soon more people will be accessing email from their handhelds than from any other platform. This represents nothing less than a sea change -- and a major opportunity -- for marketers.

Until now, organizations have been hamstrung in their ability to market effectively on mobile devices. SMS, which simplifies communication to a short amount of plain text, had been the only option. Mobile email marketing became a possibility once smartphones hit the market, but popular devices like the Blackberry and Palm also reduced messages to text-only.

The iPhone, and competing products on the way, will create a new and exciting playground for email to assert itself on mobile devices. Web-worthy graphics and functionality will make email the mobile communication method of choice for businesses and consumers alike. Companies currently sending SMS can transition from programs that carry along per-message fees for their organization and their customers, while also providing a much richer and interactive experience.

Mobile email marketing promises to help brands build closer relationships with customers, but it needs to be executed smartly -- email marketing on the phone is much different than on the PC. Here are the top five complexities introduced by mobile email marketing, and my advice for what you can do to ensure your campaigns hit the mark with your smartphone savvy customers.

How do you know if your customer is reading your email on a smart phone? Your customers -- not you -- decide when, where, and on what device they're going to read your email. Marketers should address this challenge in two ways: First, ask customers for their platform preferences when they sign up for your email, and offer them the ability to update these via a preference center on your website that they can login to any time. Second, take advantage of new technology that automatically detects when and on what the device the user is reading your email, and send tailored messages based on this insight.

1 email, 4 customers, 4 different experiences. The same email sent to four different customers using four different smartphones would result in a distinct experience at each. For example, Symbian users will only see the text part of your HTML and only fully spelled out URLs will be clickable. Windows Mobile 6 supports HTML, but defaults to images-off. BlackBerrys have been notorious for displaying a hard-to-decipher mess of HTML code to the user. The iPhone, of course, displays messages rather elegantly. Marketers should conduct pre-deployment quality assurance of their templates across popular mobile email platforms to ensure optimal rendering for each.

First impressions count. A 2007 study by JupiterResearch (now Forrester) found that two-thirds of email recipients that have preview panes use them to determine whether they're going to continue reading a sender's messages. The same applies to the limited "above the fold" real estate provided on mobile devices. Marketers should make sure their call-to-action comes through as effectively as possible when the user first views the message on a handheld.

Make your messages work on the small screen. Different screen sizes mean different viewable areas. As a rule of thumb, mobile email marketers should avoid multiple columns and wide graphics or tables. Make sure users also can view your entire message by scrolling down (i.e., without having to also scroll to the right). Finally, keep the "weight" of the email below 20kb.

The medium is the message. Email marketing for the desktop is fundamentally different from email marketing on the handheld. As marketers begin to design and deploy more email campaigns specifically for rendering on mobile devices, they should cater to the different needs and expectations of people who read their messages on the go, which will be different than when they are reading them at their desks or on their laptops.

A Scalable Strategy to Reach "Non-Searchers"

Brought to you by Zephrin Lasker

One of the most important facets of a performance marketing campaign is performance. That's pretty obvious -- it says so in the name. If performance advertising has grown to account for 57 percent of the market share in 2008, it's because advertisers more than ever now demand results from their marketing investment.

But an equally important facet of a performance marketing campaign is scale. Scale enables advertisers to connect with a large percentage of the target demographic (or psychographic) -- consumers whose attention would otherwise be captured by the competition.

There are three pricing models in the performance advertising market, each of which is very different in terms of its ability to help advertisers scale their campaigns.

CPC pricing models are commonly used for search advertising. Given the broad reach of search engines, advertisers can scale their search campaigns with relative ease (Google alone reaches more than 77 percent of the U.S. internet audience).

However, search advertising suffers from an inherent limitation: Unless someone is actively looking for an advertiser's product or service, they will not see the advertisement.

This is why it is important that advertisers round out their CPC plan with other forms of performance advertising. Doing so will enable them to reach people that are a good fit for their products and services, but are not actively seeking them out.

Think about the young MBA graduate who has just stepped into the open world. That person might not be looking to buy a luxury vehicle today, but more likely than not, this will be an important consumer to build a relationship with, so that a very pricey 5 or 7 series is part of their celebration for a future promotion.

There are two routes that an advertiser in the performance marketing space can take to round out a search plan and reach this universe of "non-searchers": CPA (cost-per-action) advertising and CPL (cost-per-lead) advertising.

An advertiser using CPA advertising only pays when a certain action is completed, such as a sale. This is especially attractive to ecommerce companies, as they can incur marketing expenses only at the moment that sales revenue is realized.

However, CPA campaigns are not ideal for achieving scale. In a CPA transaction, a user has to typically fill in her or his credit card information, which results in a high drop-off. It should be noted that only a small fraction of potential purchasers are ready to buy at any given point in time.

With CPL advertising, marketers do not pay for sales, but instead pay for customer leads. A lead consists of the basic contact information of a consumer such as name, email, postal address, etc. (similar to the fields collected on a landing page of a CPC campaign).

Advertisers collect basic information of consumers to engage them via e-newsletters, community sites, social networking groups, Twitter groups, and loyalty programs. Once they have the contact information of consumers who have expressed interest in their offerings, they engage them. By conversing with consumers in a relevant way through these vehicles, they drive sales (and repeat sales).

An August 2009 eMarketer report estimates that 51 percent of advertisers deploying CPL campaigns engaged consumers through community and social sites; an additional 31 percent of advertisers sent out e-newsletters with special deals.

Due to the relatively limited information collected at the first point of contact, there is typically low drop-off in CPL campaigns. As opposed to CPA campaigns, CPL campaigns allow advertisers to build scale easily in a short time frame.

A good performance marketing plan will allow you to speak to a large percentage of your target audience while giving you the efficiency of paying only for interested consumers. It is important that you choose correctly between CPL and CPA campaigns as you add to your search engine marketing plan. Only one of them is for scale.

Friday, November 13, 2009

SEO Expert to Reveal 5 Simple ‘Do-it-Yourself’ Strategies To Get Top Google Page Rank: Free Webinar

Brought to you by Online PR News

Optimize your website – it’s the fastest and cheapest way to dominate Google. But many business owners don’t get good value from their ‘SEO Expert’, who often keeps hidden just how powerful some of the simplest Search Engine Marketing techniques can be.

Gareth Owen provides website optimization to many of the world’s top marketers, including Dan Kennedy, Bill Glazer, Armand Morin, and others, getting top Search Engine rankings with Google, Yahoo and Bing. Many websites under his care receive millions of website visitors and outrank industry leaders.

In a free 90-minute webinar hosted by Success-Webinars.com on November 17th, Internet Marketing expert Gareth will show entrepreneurs, marketers and small businesses owners simple but effective techniques to get top page rank, drive traffic and dominate Google, with easy Search Engine optimisation and marketing techniques that anyone can use.

Attendees will learn:
* The 3 simple rules to getting high Pagerank on Google
* The 2 key concepts that will keep you at #1 Page rank
* Why most so-called ‘SEO experts’ talk a load of twaddle!
* The only 3 simple, FREE SEO tools you need
* The biggest mistake that 99% or internet marketers make – and why their businesses will FAIL!
* The sheer power of simple SEO techniques that will put you ahead of 99.99% of web businesses!

John Thornely, CEO of Success-Webinars.com, notes that "Many business people I talk to spend thousands on SEO consultants to get better search rankings for their websites, but end up with very little benefit to show for it. So I’ve invited a real SEO expert – Gareth Owen – to show us just how effective some of his simple strategies can be in achieving top search engine rankings and grabbing website traffic!"

"Not everyone can afford to pay thousands for consulting from an SEO Expert like Gareth, so I’ll be grilling him to reveal the most successful Website SEO strategies that he uses himself and his clients for lead generation and to bring in customers " adds John.

The exclusive ‘Dominate Google with Simple SEO Techniques’ webinar is free to join, using any computer with internet connection, and will be held on Tuesday November 17th, 2009 at 7:30pm UK time, 2:30pm Eastern, 11:30am Pacific.

Places are limited and will go quickly, given the interest in the topic, so early reservation is essential to avoid missing out. Further details are available here.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Choose Your Weapon: The Best Smartphone

With the recent launch of the Motorola Droid, there is going to be an epic battle for the top smartphone on the market. I recently purchased an iPhone 3GS and it is spectacular. With so much technology right at your fingertips, it is quite impressive. While I may be partial to my iPhone, I am willing to explore other options. Here are some statistics that I have gathered regarding the top smartphones on the market:

iPhone 3GS: 3.5-inch 480 x 320-pixel resolution at 163 ppi widescreen Multi-Touch display
Motorola Droid: 3.7-inch/480×854 Full Touchscreen with Full QWERTY Slider
Palm Pre: 3.1-inch touch screen with 24-bit color 320×480 resolution HVGA display and full QWERTY keyboard
BlackBerry Storm 2: 3.25 inch 360 x 480 pixel touchscreen; 65k colors
BlackBerry Bold: 2.6 inch Half VGA resolution Dispay Screen; 480 x 320 pixels; 65,000 colors

I'm going to give the edge here to the Motorola Droid. While the iPhone has a great UI, the Motorola Droid has a larger screen as well as a full QWERTY keyboard.

iPhone 3GS: 3 megapixels with AutoFocus, No flash
Motorola Droid: 5.0 megapixels with AutoFocus
Palm Pre: 3 megapixels camera with LED flash and AutoFocus
BlackBerry Storm 2: 3.2 megapixels with LED flash and AutoFocus
BlackBerry Bold: 2.0 Megapixels w/AutoFocus

With almost a full 2 megapixels more than the closest competitor, the Motorola Droid has the superior camera.

Talk Time
iPhone 3GS: Up to 12 hours on 2G; Up to 5 hours on 3G
Motorola Droid: 7 Hours
Palm Pre: 5 Hours
BlackBerry Storm 2: 5.5 hours
BlackBerry Bold: 4.5 hours

I can't speak for the Droid but I can talk on my 3GS for a long time. Twelve hours seems like an unattainable number, so I'm going to call this a tie between the two.

Internal/External Memory
iPhone 3GS: 16GB or 32GB
Motorola Droid: 512MB Flash, 256MB RAM/MicroSD (16GB capacity)
Palm Pre: 8 GB
BlackBerry Storm 2: 2 GB/16 GB microSD
BlackBerry Bold: 1 GB

32GB for a phone? Seems like way too much to me. Tack one on for the iPhone.

iPhone 3GS: $199 for 16 GB; $299 for 32GB
Motorola Droid: $200
Palm Pre: $149.99
BlackBerry Storm 2: $179.99
BlackBerry Bold: $199.99

It's hard to decide which phone is the better bargain. You are getting quality features from each phone, but once again you are getting a lot more from the iPhone and the Motorola Droid.

Most of the time, the phone which you choose is based soley upon which carrier that you have. Once phone companies lock you into those two-year contracts, it becomes quite expensive to upgrade your phone. AT&T's exclusive contract with the iPhone is up at the end of the year, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. I'm also curious to see how the Droid does with the Google operating system and to see how it competes with the iPhone. While the BlackBerry didn't come out on top in any of our categories, it's hard to overlook the brand recognition that is has. The BlackBerry is a smartphone that is geared more towards business oriented people than those just looking to play games while waiting in the dentist's office. All of the phones have their pros and cons. Hopefully you will choose a phone that best suits you.

Holiday Shoppers Turning To Social Media And Internet

Brought to you by Mike Sachoff

Digital technologies continue to drive a new approach to shopping, with social media and mobile phones becoming key influencers this holiday season, according to a new survey of holiday retail spending and trends by Deloitte.

Social media is gaining traction with 17 percent of consumers planning to use social media during their holiday shopping, and 60 percent plan to use it to find discounts, coupons and sales information, More than half (53%) plans to use social media to research gift ideas, while 52 percent plan to check the gift wish lists of friends and family.

Consumers in all age groups plan to embrace social media over the holidays. While more than half (52%) of those who expect to use social media during the shopping process are in the 18-29 years old age group, 33 percent are in the 30-44 years old age group and 12 percent are in the 45-60 years old age group.

The mobile phone is another digital tool for the holidays that is on track to be used by 19 percent of consumers to help with their holiday shopping. Those consumers plan to find store locations (55%), research prices (45%), find product information (40%), get discounts and coupons (32%) and read reviews (31%). A quarter plan to make a holiday purchase with their phone.

The Internet ranks as a top shopping destination and continues to see steady growth. Nearly a quarter (22%) of consumers indicate they will shop primarily online this year and many are using the Internet to find special offers, with 44 percent of shoppers expecting to use a coupon they get online.

Reviews have become another key online source of information, with 39 percent of consumers indicating they often read consumer-generated reviews of stores or products online, and one-quarter (25 percent) saying they will likely purchase a product this holiday season based on an online recommendation. More than a third (34 percent) say that online consumer reviews and ratings influence their buying decisions more than advertising.

"Consumers are turning to mobile, online and social media during their entire holiday shopping experience," said Stacy Janiak, vice chairman and Deloitte's U.S. Retail leader. "Retailers should consider harnessing this activity to turn browsers into buyers with one-click access to coupons, promotions and purchasing tools."

"This year's leaner in-store inventories may also open the door for retailers to lure customers to their online channels where it is easier to access inventory, no matter where it is located."

The Internet is also changing the traditional store-based purchase process. Almost half of consumers (48%) say they like the convenience of shopping with multi-channel retailers, and 78 percent indicate they have purchased an item in a retailer's store after viewing or researching the product online. In addition 65 percent have done the opposite and purchased an item on retailer's website after viewing it in the store or catalog.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Social Networks & Blogs Now 4th Most Popular Online Activity, Ahead of Personal Email, Nielsen Reports

Brought to you by Nielson

Now visited by over two-thirds (67 percent) of the global* online population, “Member Communities,” which includes both social networks and blogs, has become the fourth most popular online category – ahead of personal email. It is growing twice as fast as any of the other four largest sectors (search, portals, PC software and email), according to The Nielsen Company’s “Global Faces and Networked Places,” a comprehensive report published today revealing the new global footprint of social networking.

“Social networking has become a fundamental part of the global online experience,” says John Burbank, CEO of Nielsen Online. “While two-thirds of the global online population already accesses member community sites, their vigorous adoption and the migration of time show no signs of slowing. Social networking will continue to alter not just the global online landscape, but the consumer experience at large. This study explains why.”

According to the Nielsen report, Facebook - the world’s most popular social network - is visited monthly by three in every 10 people online across the nine markets in which Nielsen tracks social networking use. Orkut in Brazil has the largest domestic online reach (70 percent) of any social network in these markets.

The report, available today, provides insights into the changing size and audience composition of the global social networking audience and the increasing share of Internet time for which it accounts. The report also analyzes how the major players are faring and what advertisers and publishers can do to take advantage of the social network phenomenon.

Other key findings include:

One in every 11 minutes online globally is accounted for by social network and blogging sites.
The social network and blogging audience is becoming more diverse in terms of age: the biggest increase in visitors during 2008 to “Member Community” Web sites globally came from the 35-49 year old age group (+11.3 million).
Mobile is playing an increasingly important role in social networking. Nielsen found UK mobile Web users have the greatest propensity to visit a social network through their handset, with 23 percent (2 million people) doing so, compared to 19 percent in the US (10.6 million people). These numbers are a big increase over last year – up 249 percent in the UK and 156 percent in the US.

Social networking isn’t just growing rapidly, it’s evolving - both in terms of a broader audience and compelling new functionality,” says Alex Burmaster, author of the study and Communications Director across EMEA for Nielsen Online. “We felt compelled to analyze the state of the social networking market globally and consider what implications this has for our publisher and advertiser clients.”

You can read more here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

5 Steps To A Manageable Video Strategy

Brought to you by Adam Singolda

Video content has a good chance of dominating the web. In July 2009 alone, an astounding 158 million U.S. internet users -- or 80 percent of the nation's online population -- watched online videos, according to data from comScore Video Metrix. While the best way to meet this demand is to provide more video content, it should be noted that too much content will become an "untamable beast" -- especially when it comes to ensuring that videos are personalized and customized.

In addition, according to recent research from The Diffusion Group (TDG), the number of global broadband households will near 440 million by 2010 and top 1.2 billion by 2030, bringing high-speed connectivity to a tipping point. As a result, online publishers will treat this broadband gold rush with gusto, ensuring that video content is prolific and ubiquitous.

Stay informed. For more information on the evolving world of publishers, including insights from Summit host Jim Spanfeller, former president and CEO of Forbes.com, attend the iMedia Agency Summit, Dec. 6-9. Learn more about the iMedia Agency Summit.
So, the stars are all lining up for video to be the "king of content" on the web. Online publishers will post massive volumes of videos that are aimed at driving more traffic, and they will look to provide a more personalized experience to keep users engaged. The downside is that there is such as thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to video, and online publishers need to use tools to maximize this opportunity.

Once online publishers start building out a deep repertoire of video content by producing it, licensing it, or syndicating it, this massive volume of videos can become unwieldy and cumbersome to discover, share, and monetize. In addition, a haphazard approach to posting content -- just based on posting high volumes of videos -- would be like selling a product that people don't buy because they don't know it exists or have no interest in it.

To avoid being trampled under the foot of this potentially untamable beast, we recommend you follow these five critical steps:

1. Think strategically
Take a marketing campaign-like approach to posting video content. The most successful campaigns are driven by a well-thought-out strategy that is supported by the most cutting-edge tactics. Online publishers that actually spend time developing this plan in a written document, and ensure that the entire web team is thinking strategically while executing the tactics, will yield the best results.

2. Scale up quick and early
Scaling up can always be done, but is optimal when completed early in the game. By tagging and managing the videos by category -- even if the categories go very deep in terms of user preference -- you will be able to build a true foundation for all other videos to be launched, managed, and monetized. This will also allow third-party technology vendors to more easily be integrated to your site (in terms of analytics, third-party ad serving companies, discovery, and others).

3. Provide a personalized experience; create your competitive advantage
Make sure you serve up a more personalized video viewing experience. This means that, based on viewing patterns, tastes, and preferences, videos should be served up to users much like a custom-made piece of furniture or musical instrument -- as unique products. Too much of a commoditized video experience will cause users to migrate elsewhere. Simply put: Web users prefer some guidance.

4. Maintain, maintain, maintain
If you have the right foundation in place and you are scaling properly, it is very easy to get complacent at precisely the time when managing online videos can become beastly. Make sure that you build in routine maintenance of your online video efforts.

5. Measure success and recalculate
Managing online video content without the proper analytic tools and metrics goals is like going hiking without the proper equipment. One wrong turn and you could be lost very deep in the woods. Be sure to fully analyze and measure all of your efforts at the end of a campaign (recommend every three months). This is the ideal time to truly recalculate efforts, purge low-value video content, and move forward with a modified plan. Such quantifiable metrics could be CTRs on your different navigation tools, colors schemes, player sizes, pages per visit, and others.

While the online video gold rush is showing no sign of slowing down and more ad revenues are kicking in from TV to online, publishers should avoid quickly rushing out West -- much like the California gold rush -- with the wrong tools for mining. After all, only a handful of people struck it rich during the gold rush -- most were left destitute. By using the right strategies and tools for managing and personalizing videos, every online publisher can grab a hold of the bountiful riches.

Adam Singolda is the founder and CEO of Taboola.

Addressing the 'O' in Search Engine Optimization

Brought to you by Mark Jackson, Search Engine Watch

Prospective clients often ask a similar question: "So, once you've written the meta information, what else do you do?"

For those who aren't knee deep into SEO on a regular basis, this is a fair question. Truly, SEO is an ongoing process. Many Web sites will see a pretty good bump from SEO once the initial phase of the project is implemented.

The initial phase might include things like the initial keyword research, to determine which keywords are relevant to your business and have a good amount of search volume on a regular basis; the competitive analysis, to determine if your Web site has a chance to rank for those keywords and phrases that you've selected; the site structure analysis, to look for issues that could be preventing your Web site from being crawled and indexed well and find holes in your content strategy for the keywords that you've selected; and the meta recommendations, which includes writing unique title tags, meta descriptions, meta keywords, header tags, and content edits, all focused on positioning each page for the targeted keywords and phrases.

But after this point, what do you do?

Well, many ingredients go into a fully baked SEO effort. And, like in cooking, the ingredients will differ on each project.

That said, one constant can help ensure that you're actually optimizing your efforts on a regular basis.

Most SEOs will preach that SEO success isn't (directly) measured by the increasing rankings. You measure success by the growth of organic/natural search engine traffic to the Web site and the growth in leads and sales for your business that can be directly attributed to your SEO efforts.

Even then, we cut the value proposition short on SEO because we don't measure or report against (often times) the indirect value. Perhaps having high rankings has led to an increase in direct type-in traffic for your domain? Perhaps there really is brand value in having this additional exposure in the SERPs? I could go on here, but let's stick to the task at hand.

Optimization Using Your Analytics Data

After you've implemented your initial recommendations, measure the results of your efforts via your analytics. Most of my clients have Google Analytics as their platform, so we'll use this as an example. Other platforms will offer similar data, so you can also follow along.

Note: If you don't have analytics installed on your Web site, you need to sign up and get analytics in place right now. Install it properly and have paid search, product search/shopping feeds broken out from organic search traffic so that you can measure all efforts effectively/correctly.

First, allow at least a couple of weeks to pass after the initial recommendations are fully implemented. Then get into your analytics.

View Traffic Sources/Search Engines/Non-Paid Search traffic. Select a time period that begins on the date the recommendations were implemented and see which keywords you're beginning to see traffic from.

Now sort that traffic by things that matter. For most Web sites, that means selecting Conversion Rate, because this matters most.

However, remember that not all conversion rates are treated equally. We need volume and conversion rate. Be sure to only look at keywords that have driven at least a minimum/baseline amount of traffic to the Web site (each Web site will have its own baseline, so I can't provide this for you).

Once you have a list of keywords that have shown a decent conversion rates (say 2 percent) and have a decent volume of traffic coming to your Web site, you can now look to see where you might rank for these keywords. Before you check the rankings, remove Google's personalization from your search results.

Perhaps one of these keywords that has been driving traffic to your Web site, and converting at a decent rate, is "only" ranking number eight for that keyword phrase on Google. Now, you can strategize on how to move that ranking up into the top positions so that you're getting more of this quality traffic. What might move the needle?

Well, without knowing your particular circumstances, perhaps some internal linking could bump this up a bit. Also, getting additional links to this page from other Web sites (using some form of keyword-rich anchor text within the link, preferably) might do the trick. Other options could include a blog post on the topic, more content added to the Web site around this topic, or press releases written/published/distributed with links pointing back to this ranking page to help you to gain higher rankings/more traffic.

When my firm is first engaged with clients for SEO, I tell them that, while we have a set process that we follow in SEO, without fail we'll need to address items that may not be part of our original agreement. Being retained to provide "optimization" means bringing our entire tool set to every project. We regularly check analytics and look for areas of opportunity to improve, but it's the skilled SEO technician who will determine how the optimization occurs.

For more details on the idea of using your analytics to optimize your Web site, read what Bill Hartzer has written about focusing on keywords that convert.

6 Ways To Shake Up Your Boring Emails

Brought to you by Chris Marriott

Anyone who's used email as a marketing channel for some time has come to appreciate its virtues: high return on investment, flexibility, and speed to results. However, email marketers often fall prey to the old adage that familiarity breeds contempt. After a while, email becomes, well, boring -- also known as the flipside of reliable.

We've noticed that often our clients become stuck in a single approach to email: create campaign, target list, launch, monitor results. They tend to stick to the same roster of offers and creative and tend to see consistent, if unexciting results. For that matter, we as an agency will sometimes fall back on the tried and true to meet ever-increasing time and resource pressures.

Granted, trying something new comes with risks. At the very least, new tactics require some learning, which translates into extra resources required for completion. Many marketers also hesitate to try anything new lest they disturb a well-oiled and profitable program. However, no program ever grew significantly by doing the same thing over and over again.

Moreover, new tactics may require less effort and risk than many marketers think. In addition, the highly targetable nature of email marketing allows marketers to test simple ideas with a small but viable sample of customers before rolling it out to the list as a whole.

So, let us consider a few simple tricks that can enliven an email program gone stale.

All-text email
The possibilities of HTML email positively set the creative mind reeling with images, animations, and colors. Brand guidelines often dictate a specific approach to email design that may or may not suit the medium. For these reasons, email marketers should consider sending an all-text email once in a while. Whether HTML or plain text, we have seen these emails shake up an audience, much in the way that a sudden quiet spot during a TV broadcast makes a viewer look up to see what happened. While we don't recommend sending all emails as all text, we do recommend it as a change of pace now and again.

Everything on the landing page
Perhaps the polar opposite of the all-text concept, using an email as a giant teaser often works by piquing the interest of the audience. A main graphic and call-to-action that communicates "click to see our deals" artificially raises click-through rates, of course. However, emails like these also identify consumers with strong interest in the brand. After all, they've clicked on an email without really knowing why. Keeping tabs on consumers who click through on teasers gives a brand an interesting segment to exploit later.

Silly subject lines
Email marketers have probably spilled more ink over the writing of subject lines than any other topic -- and with good reason. No other aspect of the email gives as much control to the marketer over opens as does the subject line. For the most part, subject lines that summarize the main offer in plain, direct language drive the best open response. However, we've seen silly subject lines -- bad puns, odd turns of phrase -- drive opens. One of our clients, a telecommunications provider, actually developed a champion subject line out of a pun that remains unbeaten going on six months. Marketers should not take this suggestion as an excuse to churn out subject lines that sound like Talking Heads lyrics, but they should experiment with a good, broadly funny line now and again.

Moreso than most communications, consumers perceive email as a one-to-one experience. Yet most marketing emails take on a bland, corporate tone of voice. While the efficiency and simplicity of a corporate voice makes sense for many emails, many more would benefit from a little bit of personality. Some email marketers create characters as the voice of their emails. Others send emails with the imprimatur of a senior executive. Both of these tactics give the marketer permission to speak with a little more of a human voice. While marketers can easily overdo personality (no one wants to get an email with the greeting, "Hey, dude"), they also make it easier for consumers to connect with the brand via email. Marketers, then, should test a more personal tone in copy to understand how audiences will perceive it.

Different date
No question will infuriate email strategists faster than, "On what day should I mail?" Many years ago, email service providers created charts that showed open and click rates by day of week. One report showed that emails sent on Wednesday stood a better chance of getting opens or clicks than on any other day. Guess what happened? Yep. So many marketers moved their mail date to Wednesday that Thursday emails had the best open and click rates. Or maybe Tuesday. The simple fact remains that email marketers all need to experiment now and then to see which days work best for them. To that end, marketers who have fallen into a pattern of mailing on the same day every week really owe it to themselves to try mailing one day sooner or later.

Break your favorite rule, but just once
All marketers work with rules. No knocked-out white type on black backgrounds. No emails wider than 600 pixels. Nothing below the fold. Most of these rules come from experience, either the marketer's or someone else's. And, admittedly, most of the time, these rules work. However, it never hurts to break a rule once just to see if the time has come to revise the rule.

So, to all you email marketers out there, go see what a few tweaks can do to your already-successful program. It never, ever hurts to try -- as long as you keep your cell size small enough.

Click here to learn more about the author.

Monday, November 9, 2009

What Is Your 'R' for ROI in Social Media?

Brought to you by By Liana Evans, Search Engine Watch

A few weeks ago I wrote "Can Social Media be Measured?" There was a bit of debate among readers in the comments, so I'd like to circle back around and address a burning topic for companies that are looking to venture into social media marketing.

You should definitely measure some things -- check out the "Measuring Social Media" white paper from Serengeti for some examples. However, each company needs to define its own "return" in their ROI when they implement social media strategies. Everyone is different.

Most for-profit companies and organizations have a bottom line that's based on how much money they make from sales of their product or services. Companies that don't make a consistent profit won't last long. Many activities go into how a company makes its profit, and how those activities fit into the scheme of things is via ROI.

Non-profit organizations might have a bottom line that's based on donations, funds, or even acquisition of volunteers to keep them afloat, so their ROI can be defined in another way compared to a for-profit business.

Most companies making money have a bottom line, no matter if it's direct or indirect.

However, defining the "return" on a social media activity doesn't always have to be a direct sale. It's actually very rare to see a "click to purchase" from a mention in social media. This is why it's a difficult to sell senior leadership on the idea that attempting to tie your direct return to a sale will prove that social media works.

Companies trying to implement social media strategies solely for the purpose of directly selling products or services will find they will be horribly disappointed and have senior leadership screaming at them that "this social media stuff doesn't work!" This has happened too many times to count.

It isn't that social media doesn't work. It's that both their reason for implementing it (their return) and their measurement of success for that return wouldn't work for marketing in social media community.

There are many examples of social media success where companies didn't tie sales to being the success measurement for the strategy the implemented in social media. When Dell first ventured into social media by way of the Direct2Dell blog, they were out to bring down the number of negative comments that were being made about the company by directly addressing customers in social media communities.

At the time Dell ventured into social media, they were being pummeled by Jeff Jarvis, who coined the term "Dell Hell" and, shortly after they started the blog, by the exploding battery situation in which a Dell laptop caught on fire in Osaka, Japan. They had really started listening to the social media world in April 2006, and knew they had big issues when it came to how people viewed the company's products and services.

Dell considered its return, in the case of starting Direct2Dell, as the decrease of negative comments and sentiment in the social media communities. According to Lionel Menchaca when he addressed the Blog Potomac crowd in 2008, they saw incredible success and considered the blog a very successful return on their investment. So much so it encouraged them to invest fully into other social media projects, such as IdeaStorm and very active Twitter accounts.

You can have several reasons you want to implement a social media strategy, those can all be measured as a "return." Maybe it's to increase the number of subscribers to your blog, or get people to your Web site to take a quiz of some sort. Perhaps it's to get people to participate in a contest that raises brand awareness. All of these can be measured and, if the proper research around what successful goals should be in place, can be measured for success or failure.

So what are some "returns" you can measure? Here's a high level view of "returns" you can measure and assign goals to.

Facebook/MySpace (social networking sites in general):

Number of fans/friends
Number of comments per day/week/month
Number of discussions started by fans


Number of qualified followers (qualified meaning actually people, not bots)
Number of retweets


Number of comments
Number of subscribers
Number of links posts get
Number of retweets

Forums/Message Boards:

Number of new members
Number of posts per day
Number of topics started per week
Number of active members per month


Number of views
Number of comments
Number of subscribers/friends

Brand Lift/Sentiment:

More mentions of brands/products/services
Increase positive sentiment
Decrease negative sentiment
There are many more ways you can measure, and many more social media sites offer different types of measurements to its members. Tools can also measure certain things, but most of what you'll want to measure will take a lot of manual work.

The last, but certainly not least, piece of this puzzle is how much of an investment you're putting in. That investment isn't just how much certain software costs, or an employee's time to plan, implement, and measure. It's also the equipment that you might have to invest in, whether it's servers or T3 lines you need to bring in to handle traffic to your servers that support the new community you've launched.

All of this must be figured into your strategy and accounted for when figuring out whether the "return" you're getting is worth the investment you've placed into your social media strategy.

DSL Marketing Launches "31 Days of Christmas" for MyrtleBeachHotels.com

On Friday, November 6, 2009, DSL marketing launched a "31 Days of Christmas" campaign for MyrtleBeachHotels.com. Every day for 31 days, MyrtleBeachHotels.com will be giving away a 2-night getaway paired with 2 tickets for the Dixie Stampede Christmas Show. The campaign is geared through MyrtleBeachHotels.com's Facebook fan page. Participants must become a fan of 'MyrtleBeachHotels.com' on Facebook to be eligible to win. Every day a clue will randomly be given on Facebook hinting at where Santa may be hidden that particular day. Your job is to then go to MyrtleBeachHotels.com and start clicking through pages on their site in hopes of finding old St. Nick. The first person to find him wins the 2-night stay and Dixie Stampede tickets. In less than a week span, MyrtleBeachHotels.com's Facebook fan page has added over 1,500 fans.

If you are looking for some success with your social media outlets, contact us.

Friday, November 6, 2009

COOL Website of the Day: ZooLoo

While browsing through TechCrunch.com today, I came across an interesting website called ZooLoo. ZooLoo could be best described as your one-stop shop in terms of social media. You can check all of your friend's status updates on Facebook, see what celebs are tweeting about on Twitter, and see what bands are playing this weekend on MySpace. ZooLoo can integrate all of these sites into your homepage, which is known as your 'website'. You can pick your own URL such as youname.zooloo.com, which is a pretty sweet feature. You can have ZooLoo pull in RSS feeds from your favorite websites, so if you wanted to read the latest news articles from The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times, there's a widget for that. They are also in the process of developing an iPhone app, which the company describes as "ZooLoo Home Page Plus". The application gives you the ability to update all of your favorite social networks without going to any of the websites themselves.

If you would like DSL Marketing to handle any of your social media needs, please contact us.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

50 Ways to use Social Media, listed by Objective

Brought to you by Jeremiah Owyang through Chris Brogan

Chris Brogan, who continues to dazzle us with his thoughtful and helpful social media blog posts (I recommend subscribing to him) lists out “50 Ways Marketers Can use Social Media to Improve Their Marketing“.

In twitter, Jon Burg suggests the lists could be segmented to further help understanding, I recommenced doing this by the 5 social computing objectives we’ve found at Forrester.

I’ve taken Chris’s exact list, but have segmented it into the five objectives. This way, you’re not randomly choosing tactics without first having a goal in mind. Of course, the first thing to do is to first understand how your community uses social technologies, start by using this free social technographics profile generator.

1) Listening: Gleaning market and customer insight and intelligence

10. Build sentiment measurements, and listen to the larger web for how people are talking about your customer.
11. Learn which bloggers might care about your customer. Learn how to measure their influence.
14. Build conversation maps for your customers using Technorati.com , Google Blogsearch, Summize, and FriendFeed.
21. Collect case studies of social media success. Tag them “socialmediacasestudy” in del.icio.us.
25. Search Summize.com for as much data as you can find in Twitter on your product, your competitors, your space.
32. Make WebsiteGrader.com your first stop for understanding the technical quality of a website.
33. Make Compete.com your next stop for understanding a site’s traffic. Then, mash it against competitors’ sites.
34. Learn how not to ask for 40 pieces of demographic data when giving something away for free. Instead, collect little bits over time. Gently.
38. Track your inbound links and when they come from blogs, be sure to comment on a few posts and build a relationship with the blogger.
39. Find a bunch of bloggers and podcasters whose work you admire, and ask them for opinions on your social media projects. See if you can give them a free sneak peek at something, or some other “you’re special” reward for their time and effort (if it’s material, ask them to disclose it).

2) Talking: Engaging in a two way discussion to get your message out (and get messages in)

2. Build blogs and teach conversational marketing and business relationship building techniques.
5. Create informational podcasts about a product’s overall space, not just the product.
8. Check out Twitter as a way to show a company’s personality. (Don’t fabricate this).
9. Couple your email newsletter content with additional website content on a blog for improved commenting.
13. Try out a short series of audio podcasts or video podcasts as content marketing and see how they draw.
19. Experiment with the value of live video like uStream.tv and Mogulus, or Qik on a cell phone.
23. Explore distribution. Can you reach more potential buyers/users/customers on social networks.
24. Don’t forget early social sites like Yahoogroups and Craigslist. They still work remarkably well.
26. Practice delivering quality content on your blogs, such that customers feel educated / equipped / informed.
28. Turn your blog into a mobile blog site with Mofuse. Free.
30. Ensure you offer the basics on your site, like an email alternative to an RSS subscription. In fact, the more ways you can spread and distribute your content, the better.
40. Learn all you can about how NOT to pitch bloggers. Excellent resource: Susan Getgood.
41. Try out shooting video interviews and video press releases and other bits of video to build more personable relationships. Don’t throw out text, but try adding video.
44. Experiment with different lengths and forms of video. Is entertaining and funny but brief better than longer but more informative? Don’t stop with one attempt. And try more than one hosting platform to test out features.

3) Energizing: Letting your customers tell your prospects on your behalf (viral, word of mouth)

1. Add social bookmark links to your most important web pages and/or blog posts to improve sharing.
3. For every video project purchased, ensure there’s an embeddable web version for improved sharing.
4. Learn how tagging and other metadata improve your ability to search and measure the spread of information.
12. Download the Social Media Press Release (pdf) and at least see what parts you want to take into your traditional press releases.
36. Help customers and prospects connect with you simply on your various networks. Consider a Lijit Wijit or other aggregator widget.
47. Spread good ideas far. Reblog them. Bookmark them. Vote them up at social sites. Be a good citizen.

4) Supporting: Getting your customers to self-support each other

6. Build community platforms around real communities of shared interest.
7. Help companies participate in existing social networks, and build relationships on their turf.
15. Experiment with Flickr and/or YouTube groups to build media for specific events. (Marvel Comics raised my impression of this with their Hulk statue Flickr group).
18. Start a community group on Facebook or Ning or MySpace or LinkedIn around the space where your customer does business. Example: what Jeremiah Owyang did for Hitachi Data Systems.
29. Learn what other free tools might work for community building, like MyBlogLog.
35. Remember that the people on social networks are all people, have likely been there a while, might know each other, and know that you’re new. Tread gently into new territories. Don’t NOT go. Just go gently.
37. Voting mechanisms like those used on Digg.com show your customers you care about which information is useful to them.

5) Embracing: Building better products and services through collaboration with clients

31. Investigate whether your product sells better by recommendation versus education, and use either wikis and widgets to help recommend, or videos and podcasts for education.
50. Use the same tools you’re trying out externally for internal uses, if that makes sense, and learn about how this technology empowers your business collaboration, too.

Strategy, Training, and Planning
While not one of the 5 objectives, many of these aren’t directly social media tactics, but they are great rules of thumb.

16. Recommend that your staff start personal blogs on their personal interests, and learn first hand what it feels like, including managing comments, wanting promotion, etc.
17. Map out an integrated project that incorporates a blog, use of commercial social networks, and a face-to-face event to build leads and drive awareness of a product.
20. Attend a conference dealing with social media like New Media Expo, BlogWorld Expo, New Marketing Summit (disclosure: I run this one with CrossTech), and dozens and dozens more. (Email Chris for a calendar).
22. Interview current social media practitioners. Look for bridges between your methods and theirs.
27. Consider the value of hiring a community manager. Could this role improve customer service? Improve customer retention? Promote through word of mouth?
42. Explore several viewpoints about social media marketing.
43. Women are adding lots of value to social media. Get to know the ones making a difference. (And check out BlogHer as an event to explore).
45. Work with practitioners and media makers to see how they can use their skills to solve your problems. Don’t be afraid to set up pilot programs, instead of diving in head first.
46. People power social media. Learn to believe in the value of people. Sounds hippie, but it’s the key.
48. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be ready to apologize. Admit when you’ve made a mistake.
49. Re-examine who in the organization might benefit from your social media efforts. Help equip them to learn from your project.

One of Chris’s recommendations was to check out Website Grader, I found that to be very interesting, try that free service.

If this were an official Forrester report, I’d segment even further by prioritizing by usage (polling marketers), cost, effectiveness, and then deliver specific recommendations. At some point in the future, I will probably get that chance to that research.

I could double this list with additional tactics, but I think it’s enough to get started, hopefully Chris’s initial list and my mind meld should help you to improve your objective based social media strategies.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maximize Your Twitter

Brought to you by seoforgoogle.com

Twitter is expected to be one of the only social networking sites to have long term viability. Twitter usage and name recognition has been growing in leaps and bounds. Many are using Twitter not just to stay connected, but to market as well. So how do you maximize your Twitter?

Get an active Twitter account.

Yes it sounds basic, and you may already have one, but don’t just breeze past this section. We have some interesting tips to help you maximize your usage.

For those of you just getting started, open your account at http://twiter.com/signup. Once you have the registration form complete, connect with as many people as you can. They make it easy by allowing you to search your email lists (see below for more information). Customize your profile to show your main website and your, or your company’s, bio information. Don’t forget to set your location, update preferences and how you want to be notified of friends who have joined the Twitter revolution.

Draw attention with a customized background.

Get creative here. Simply click on “Settings” and then “Design” to choose a premade background or upload your own image. If you have a flair for design and a little Photoshop experience you can create a background that speaks volumes about you and your company. Check out some great custom layouts like:




Gather friends and follow interesting people and organizations

Finding friends on Twitter is easy. Three options are available.

1. Search Twitter. Use the “Find People” function to search for anyone from your next door neighbor to celebrities to companies.

2. Search other networks. Connect to anyone in your email contact list. Twitter can search through your hotmail.com, Gmail, Yahoo mail or AOL mail contact lists and if your friends use Twitter they can be added to your list.

3. Manual invites. Have friends, co-workers or clients who are not on Twitter? Manually input their email addresses and invite them to be your friend.

Connect your blog to Twitter

One of the best tools to connect Twitter and your blog was created by Alex King. This plug-in will automatically create micro blogs from your WordPress blog posts. Just follow this link for all the information


to download this plug-in click here.

If you blog regularly, be sure to review the instructions and support information.

Monitor your Twitter Rank

Twitter offers the Twitter Grader (http://twitter.grader.com) to show you where you rank against other Twitter members. Once you enter your user name, you will see where you rank among a possible 100 points.

Twitter Grading is based on overall rank, number of followers, your following and updates. The more active you are the higher you will rank.

Link your Twitter account to social bookmarking sites.

If you are in the Twitter game, be in it to win it. Build up your social networking account by bookmarking your Twitter account to sites such as Digg.com, Propeller.com, Dropjack.com and others.

Take advantage of advanced search features on Twitter

To really maximize your connection with people in your target market, go to http://search.twitter.com/advanced to use the Advanced Search features Twitter offers. In Advanced Search you can search by keywords or phrases, location, names and more.

Resist the urge to connect with everyone you see. Be choosy and select only the best people who actually have good information to share and are likely to accept your friend request.

As you take these steps to maximize your Twitter impact, you will see your social status rise. As with any adventure, the more you keep at it the better the result

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Retailers rely on social media advertising for Christmas

Brought to you by utalkmarketing.com

Retailers and food chains are leaving traditional marketing channels behind this Christmas as 47% look to increase their social media campaigns over the holiday period, according to Shop.org.

According to a report on Reuters, marketers believe that the medium of social media just wasn’t as far along and important last Christmas as it is this year.

A number of brands have said already that they will use sites like Twitter and Facebook to post their best holiday deals to reach loyal consumers.

But the question remains how many of those fans, friends and Twitter followers will translate that loyalty into sales.

Last year's weak holiday results provide e-tailers with a relatively low hurdle to meet, or exceed, past performance. Doing more than just beating last year' s performance will be hard, especially in a year of restrained shopping, when consumers are looking franticly for "free shipping and handling" offers, sales, and coupons to keep their holiday spending costs down.

Social media is luring an increasing number of consumers. Facebook has 300 million users, up from 250 million in July.

Companies are shifting dollars away from traditional marketing and putting them toward interactive marketing, according to Forrester Research, estimating that spending on social media marketing in the US alone is set to reach £370 million in value by the end of this year.

However, many advertisers have admitted they are still trying to figure out how the media can be used to support sales beyond generating a one-time boost, while also not becoming overly promotional.

Meanwhile, eBay Advertising is predicting a healthy Christmas for online retail with 85% of consumers intending to maintain or increase their online shopping, on the back of new findings.

The study also found that more than a third (37%) will shop more online compared to last year, despite the prevailing tough economy. It also reveals 86% of UK online shoppers are shopping the same or more online overall compared to six months ago, citing trust (78%) and selection (70%) and value (70%) as the key reasons.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Facebook 101: A Beginner's Guide

Since the fastest growing demopgrahic on Facebook are those 35 years and older, I thought that a brief tutorial of Facebook could be helpful. There are more than 300 million active Facebook users and out of those 300 million, approximately half of those users log in to Facebook every day! More than 8 billion minutes are spent on Facebook every day. This site has turned into quite the time killer for those either sitting in an office all day or just bored at home. Here are a few terms that you should know once you begin your journey on Facebook:

"I friended Bob on Facebook."
-Basically, if you find someone on Facebook that you would like to follow or learn more about, you would click on their name and then press the "Add as friend" button at the top middle of their homepage.

"I tagged Susie in a picture from our trip to Myrtle Beach"
-When you upload pictures to Facebook, you have the ability to name the people involved. If you are friends with "Steve Smith" and he was in one of your Halloween pictures that you uploaded to Facebook, you can click Steve in the picture and then select him from your friends list. Congratulations, you have made your first tag! This gives Steve and all of his Facebook friends the ability to view the picture.

"I added the FarmVille app and can not stop playing!"
-You will learn quickly which one of your friends is on Facebook way too much. Applications can be a plethora of things. Some are games, others are calendars; they are basically items to keep you on Facebook as long as possible.

"Yeah, I saw Jimmy's status in my newsfeed."
-Your status is the box at the top middle of your homepage and your profile page that reads "What's on your mind?". It's a place where your friends can place one or two sentences stating what they are doing. "Riding my bike through town" or "Headed to FSU for the big game!" are two examples of this. On Facebook's homepage, you will notice a slew of items. There may be pictures, status updates, application stories, etc. This is your Newsfeed. This is where you can view your friend's newly added activities.

"You should check out Red Bull's Fan Page!"
-Fan pages are a forum where people come together because they have a common interest. If you have a business, start a fan page for it. They are free and a very good way to spread the word about your company.

Hopefully this article will help you understand the ins and outs of Facebook a little bit better.

If you have any other questions or concerns regarding Facebook, contact me at luke@dslmarketing.com.

Google Launches Google Social Search Amid Social-Media Battle

Brought to you by Jessica Hodgson

SAN FRANCISCO (Dow Jones)--In a move underscoring the escalating battle among Internet companies over what is known as social media, Google Inc. (GOOG) on Monday launched a tool that allows users to find postings from their friends as part of a Web search.

Google Social Search, which is available starting Monday, includes relevant postings by colleagues, friends and selected media sources on feeds from Twitter Inc. and on blogs, as well as in broader Internet searches on its search engine. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company posted details of the new product on a blog.

A search for a restaurant could generate not only official sites and mainstream media reviews, but also comments from friends or colleagues on a range of different blogs or social sites, if they had set up a profile that allowed their data to be searched.

Social Search is being launched days after both Google and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), Google's main rival in Internet search, announced separate deals with start-up micro-blogging site Twitter Inc. Microsoft also announced a similar deal with Facebook Inc. to get access to its user information. Microsoft owns approximately 1.6% of Facebook, following a 2007 investment.

San Francisco-based start-up Twitter, which lets users blast short messages from computers and mobile phones which are then displayed on their pages, has seen explosive growth until recently. Marketers are increasingly looking for ways to tap social media such as Twitter and Facebook for ways to better track trend-making topics and reach younger users.

It wasn't immediately clear how Social Search relates to the deal Google announced with Twitter. Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

-By Jessica Hodgson, Dow Jones Newswires; 415-439-6455; jessica.hodgson@dowjones.com

The Marketing Opportunity of Mobile Social Networking

Brought to you by Noah Elkin

Combining two of the hottest channels in marketing today, mobile and social, would seem a marketer's dream: rising mobile usage, consumers flocking to social networks, and social networking emerging as one of the fastest-growing activities among mobile users everywhere. But in reality, putting mobile and social together is not a classic one-plus-one-equals-three scenario. In fact, because mobile and social are still emerging channels, when you put the two of them together, you get an even less mature proposition.

Part of the problem is ownership: Who owns mobile marketing, who owns social programs, and who takes responsibility when those lines get not only crossed but also inextricably intertwined? And what steps do marketers take to gain a voice in the conversations taking place across mobile social networks? I go into these and other issues in detail in my upcoming eMarketer report on mobile social networking and location-based services, and it's really in the union of the two where the potential lies for marketers.

Stay informed. To learn more about the latest trends in hyper local marketing, attend the iMedia Agency Summit, Dec. 6-9. Learn more about the iMedia Agency Summit.

Location-based social networks are not new. Services like Loopt and Brightkite helped establish the mold of "checking in" to find nearby friends, trendy places, and interesting activities. But scale has remained an issue. Unless you have a critical mass of users, the proposition for advertisers and marketers is not that compelling.
More recently, Foursquare emerged out of the ashes of the now-defunct Dodgeball (which Google eventually converted into Latitude after acquiring Dodgeball in 2005). Foursquare has effectively broken the location-based network mold by adding a gaming element that enables users to compete for badges and points based on the number of times they visit a particular location.

Social competition has given location-aware networks new currency and a big boost in potential. Loopt recently acknowledged the competition by acquiring GraffitiGEO, which offers similar game-playing functionality as Foursquare. Is this an emerging trend we'll start seeing more of? Quite possibly, given that social networking and gaming are both big with mobile users, who may jump at the chance to outdo their friends, and especially when these networks wisely offer easy ways to tap into users' existing social graphs.

What's compelling for marketers is that location-based networks like Loopt and Foursquare encourage users to leave tips or reviews for fellow travelers, creating the potential for a powerful word-of-mouth effect or direct marketing opportunities related to favorite locations. As Circ.us co-founder and fellow iMedia contributor Adam Broitman told me in a recent interview, location-based social networks "are potentially an inroad to the kinds of hyper local targeting that we talk about but which we really haven't yet reached." The benefit of hyper local, he said, is that it allows for "more of a direct response play, which many marketers find more valuable," and may serve as a useful counterweight to the current emphasis on awareness-building on mobile.

The looming question is where the majority of consumers will go to get recommendations and offers. In other words, will social networks effectively serve as the search engines for these types of location-based content or will it be the search engines themselves? Recommendations from friends and family, particularly for something as personal (and specific) as, say, a restaurant, arguably hold greater sway than anonymous reviews, but in some cases, anonymous reviews may have an advantage in terms of scale, especially on a site like Yelp.

The big X factor in this equation is Google, 360i's David Berkowitz explained in a recent conversation. "There's a lot Google can do," he said, citing the ability to tie user-generated content and location to search applications and mobile versions of the site, "but they need to make a real point out of it."

Mobile social networking is a fast-emerging space, and yet another example of consumers moving much faster than marketers, meaning there are a lot more mobile users on social networks than there are marketers. With social networks and their business models still maturing, that's not entirely surprising. But the takeaway is that there's tremendous power in place. The trick is finding a way to tap into it and connect it with people and things.

Noah Elkin is a senior analyst at eMarketer, where he covers trends in mobile marketing, content, and commerce.