How To Do It Big (But Right): B2B and Social Media

July 4th, 2009

So by now you probably realize the potential social networking holds for both you and your company – but you might be unsure as to how you can really use it effectively. A recent Mashable article (HOW TO: Use Social Media for Enterprise Business by Ben Parr http://mashable.com/2009/06/30/social-media-enterprise/) outlines four of the best ways to use social networking from a B2B perspective. Below are his suggestions – as well of some examples of how we are making social media for us:

1. Build a reputation of expertise.

Blogs, according to Parr, are the best way to illustrate your know-how. Sure, a large number of followers can garner a lot of attention, but if you choose to blog about niche topics, and someone stumbles upon your blog when searching for a relative solution, you have hit the jackpot. Become an expert, write about things people care about and interact with fellow bloggers as well as your readers; before you know it, you can become the go-to resource – something we all want.

We operate three blogs at JB: Mine, the graphic design blog (http://www.cuttothepaste.com) and a marketing “newbie” blog (http://www/marketingnewbiekimberly.com). Though we might not have thousands of followers (yet!), we blog about what we know: design and marketing! We blog about things people want to read about: creative logos, outrageous ads, trends in the industry…. And we acknowledge our readers through comments.

2. Research your customers

Get some background on your customers to help keep you in the loop. This means checking out their Facebook profiles/fan pages, Twitter profiles and blogs. You can not only see how they portray themselves, but also how they interact with their own customers. This can help you get a feel for the company in general, as well as what others are saying about them. It would be wise to also be up on their (and your!) industry-wide trends. Google Alerts is one way to do this.

We are heavily involved in the SoNet arena, so simply by having Twitter and FB accounts, we like to think we know a lot about the trends of the minute. Simple tools such as search.twitter.com, hashtags and Google Alerts help keep us informed – because with social media, things are always changing, and if you are not up with the latest and greatest, you can miss out. We monitor the trends, then respond and adapt accordingly… which is the best approach, in our eyes.

3. Ramp up your networking

This one’s pretty obvious: Networking really can help get your foot in the door. Whether it’s by knowing someone who knows someone who knows someone, meeting up through a Twitter meet up or connecting via Linked In, being involved is important. It can help you stand out from the crowd, illustrating you as someone who is connected and socially apt. And we all know its connections such as these that can establish relationships, which can then lead to the signing of a contract.

Within the past year I have met several great contacts through Twitter. These are contacts that tweeted out things of interest to me, which I then reached out to. Since then, we have shared tips and referred one another to potential clients. Really, it’s easy. Be open minded, reach out to others, say something of value and go from there. Changes are if they are using a social site such as Twitter, and you go about it the right way, they will be receptive.

4. Learn from others

This one is really important, especially since social media is constantly changing. See what others are doing and how it is working for them. Learn from others’ mistakes and incorporate elements of their success into your SoNet strategy. You can do this by following the tweets of industry leaders, getting an RSS feed to top blogs and asking questions. We do all this and more. We read sites such as Mashable to learn about, for example, Twitter’s recent changes; we read tweets about apps we are thinking about adding; and we talk to others about their finding, likes and dislikes.

We aren’t perfect, but our ability to learn while rolling with the punches has gotten us where we are today: A company leading the charge in successful SoNet campaigns. All it takes is a little trial and error and a lot of elbow grease… but once you discover how social media can work for you, it just might make all the difference.

Is Your SEO in the Wrong Hands?

May 15th, 2009

Over the past few years we’ve built our sites by developing a pretty smart CMS system, and we’ve have always had the ability to manipulate a lot of SEO energy through this method. We could always control the domain, the title tag, the secondary page naming conventions, meta tags and relevant content, but there was always one item missing: the infamous external linking. In the past we contracted out (like many of you guys have, undoubtedly) to a traditional SEO company, hiring them to populate directories and blogs with the relevant keywords while taking folks to the article within the website to maintain the ole point of origin that Google like so much.

After a few tries at this, and after becoming a little more educated on backlinking, a few things occurred to me:
1) I was trusting our client’s verbage to be controlled by thirty interns typing to get my site noticed by Google, but these individuals had little regard for the clients USP or messaging concerns. That’s a very scary thought.
2) SEO consists of directories and blogs… well heck, that sounds a lot like social networking to me.

With that in mind, I began on a pilgrimage to put the SEO back in the hands of the message providers and evangelists within the company — no longer in the hands of a group of 20-somethings on their way to the closest watering hole at 5:01 pm. With just a bit of a time committment and a quick lesson on how to navegate and use these sites, employees be empowered to do it themselves. Harnessing the power social networking tools, which are working conjunction with the website, and empowering the client to spread the message to their followers (and Google) — welcome to Do It Yourself SEO!

The Death of the Database

May 1st, 2009

My developer and I were banging skulls recently, discussing the goals for revamping one of our client’s online sports radio sites. He mentioned that in order for site users to get the premium info they wanted, we would need to ask for an e-mail and mobile number. He felt that that method was necessary in order to reach out to these folks in the future and create a metric for success.

I started thinking about the lack of necessity when it comes to gathering e-mail addresses and mobile numbers; rather than hinder any traffic, we should give them everything for free – the need to give out personal contact information simply doesn’t exist. What is important is giving access to people in the method they desire. It’s my belief that 10,000 e-mail addresses, accumulated in a company database, are less valuable than 2,500 RSS subscriptions, 2,500 e-mail subscriptions, 2,500 Facebook accesses and a captive audience. Why annoy your audience with interruption marketing when you can provide users with the info they want, when they want it and how they prefer it? Meaning, if they want to be notified of a Cubs win or the pregame lineup, give it to them in an RSS feed or post it to their Facebook account when they allow access – don’t inundate their inbox or their cell phone with messages that are reminiscent of SPAM.

The database is dead, but access to information is alive and thriving…

Puzzle Piece #7: Strategy

April 13th, 2009

Once you have all your profiles set up and some knowledge about each site, you need to broadcast your info to reach a waiting audience. The following are the recommended steps to get the most out of social media.

1. Blatant advertising is not appreciated or respected.
For every article you post that was written by your company, post 10 from another source that are relative to your audience. We recommend Alltop for industry-specific articles people will actually want to read.

2. Use budurl.
It not only shortens long URLs, but it also keeps track of numbers as far as how many people are reading your articles. It will quantify your traffic and show you what is (and isn’t) working.

3. Build relationships on each and every site.
Posting information is not enough. It’s important to converse with people by posting on others’ blogs, writing @replies on Twitter, answering questions on LinkedIn, etc. Engage with others – it will pay off.

4. Blogs: get your posts out to a larger audience.
You can autopost your new blog entry through your statuses using ping.fm. If you use this site, it can also track your numbers via budurl.

Other option: Use pingvine.com. This site enables your blog’s RSS feed to automatically update ping.fm (thus, less work for you). This will still update all your statuses, but it has a downside: You can’t use budURL in conjunction with this site, so you cannot track the number of viewers.
To use: Go to pingvine.com and select ping.fm. Enter your blog’s RSS feed (the same one entered into FeedBurner) and your ping.fm application key (click on “application key” to get yours). Now when you update your blog, it will update all microblogs on ping.fm.

Puzzle Piece #6: Reputation Monitoring

April 8th, 2009

Social media allows people to voice their opinions to millions of listeners. Wanna know what they’re saying about you? Use the following sites to monitor your online reputation.

Google.com/alerts. Subscribe for this service via e-mail or RSS, and updates about you or your company can be sent directly to your inbox.
Technorati.com. This site, according to Schawbel, is the “largest blog search engine in the world.” It can track any blog that links up to yours and send you RSS updates when someone is talking about your company.
Backtype.com. If searching for your company amidst blog comments is your concern, this is your site.
Backtracker.com. Discussion boards are a go-to to people looking to vent —and have others share their similar experiences. Get an instant update if you and yours are mentioned.
Search.twitter.com. The URL says it all: Use this to search for any tweets related to your business.
(They are some of the best, based on the blog post titled “5 Free Tools for Personal Reputation Management” by Dan Schawbel.)

Our fave? Trackur.com. It scours the Internet and provides extras (like charts and filters) that other sites don’t.

And remember, if someone is talking badly about you or your company, instead of simply taking offense and dwelling on negative comments, address them — and take the criticism for what it’s worth: a chance to grow and learn.

Puzzle Piece #5: Social Bookmarking

March 24th, 2009

Telling you to add the “share this” bookmarking feature had a purpose – to get you some face time on social bookmarking sites. Once an article/press release/etc. is created, adding it to bookmarking sites like Del.icio.us and Digg could potentially get your information out to thousands of viewers (if not more!).

These sites are great because your material is shown to people who are interested in the things your company is interested in. Traffic can be directed back to your site, relationships can be forged and your information can be shared with an educated, captivated community. It’s free advertising, placed in front of people who actually want to see your stuff. So basically, it’s a no brainer.
The following are just a few of the top social bookmarking and sharing sites. Noted are their strengths, weaknesses and potential business drivers.

Del.icio.us: 317,747 people per month (as of 2/28/09)
• Save all your bookmarks online, share them with others, and see what others are bookmarking
• You can access the sites from anywhere using your login info, and there is an
ability to set some as private (i.e. work- or client-related sites).
• This site would be great for organizing websites.

How to bookmark on Del.icio.us:
• Once logged in, simply click on “save a new bookmark” and enter the URL of the site you want saved.
• Click next, and enter notes and tags (to help you remember what the site is all about).
• You can select whether or not you want this site to be kept as a private bookmark.

StumbleUpon: 1,145,760 people per month (as of 2/28/09)
• Users choose their interests (cooking, business, advertising, etc.) from a list,
install the StumbleUpon toolbar and then a click of the “stumble” button takes
them to a site they might like.
• Users also click a button to say whether they like the site or not, and
StumbleUpon keeps track of the sites you like.
• Others can access your favorite sites by viewing your profile.
• This is more of a promotional vehicle. Add images and short articles and expand your network so others see the sites you have in your arsenal.

How to add favorites to StumbleUpon:
• Once you create an account, go through the topics and click on those that interest you.
• Opt to have the StumbleUpon toolbar installed, so from whereever you are on the web, you can simply click “Stumble” and you will be shown a site you might like.
• For each site shown, click either “I like it” or the thumbs down icon, and StumbleUpon will keep track of your preferences.
• If you discover a site you want added to StumbleUpon, click the “I like it” icon and fill in the site’s information.
• All the sites you liked will be saved on your profile.

Digg: about 23,900,000 people per month (as of 2/28/09)
• All news articles, videos, images, etc. are submitted by the community.
• Once something is submitted, other people see it and digg what they like best.
If your submission receives enough diggs, it is promoted to the home page of its category — or the front page for millions of viewers to see.
• Users can customize their home page and see only stories they would be interested in.
• Use this for promotion by adding some new media to the mix. Submissions will be posted under “upcoming stories,” where viewers look and either “digg” them or don’t.
• People see what you digg, so be active on the site and others will want to see your favorites. Add all forms of media to this site.

How to add favorites to Digg:
• Once you are logged into Digg, simply select “submit new” at the top of the site.
• Enter the URL and select which type of media it is.
• On the next screen, enter the title, a description of the site, choose a thumbnail and the topic you want it associated with (such as Business and Finance or Educational and submit the story.
• Digg will keep track of your favorites and share them with others.

Reddit: 1,347,084people per month (as of 2/28/09)
• The site aims to have what’s new and popular on the web. Users customize what they’re interested in. Votes train a filter, so the site only shows users things they might like.
• You determine what shows on your front page by saying if things are “hot” or “cold.”
• Use this as another promotional vehicle by uploading new sites — submission
titles are key to gaining recognition.
• Best for posting short articles and blogs.

How to add favorites to Reddit:
• Once you have signed in, click on “submit a link.”
• Simply enter the URL, title and category, and the post is submitted.
• Your faves will be saved, filed and shared.

Puzzle Piece #4: Site Management

March 9th, 2009

Now that everything is up and running, you will need to take some steps to ensure your sites work for you. Once those profiles have been created, use ping.fm to manage your info through broadcast and inbound. It will send updates to your statuses, blogs and microblogs. (Note: When signing up for social networking sites that allow you to connect or link with others – don’t! Ping.fm will do this for you, and choosing to connect will only double post – a big “no no” in the social media world.)


•Format Google to show your most important information – on your homepage.
•Simply install iGoogle on your desktop and select the Google Gadgets you want on your homepage.
•You can download gadgets that allow you to see Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook updates. You can also keep ping.fm open, which allows for quick updates.


•RSS feeds: They’re a way for you to get a quick list of the latest story headlines online from all your favorite websites and blogs all in one place.
•Use these to your advantage. People who like what you say can subscribe to your messages and get your updated material on your blog, for example, instead of subscribing to an e-mail blast that constitutes interruption marketing. Anywhere there is an RSS icon, readers can simply click on it and receive your updates.

•Internet Explorer has RSS capabilities built in. Users can subscribe by clicking on the icon and receiving updates via their RSS Reader of choice.


•A program such as FeedBurner (the best we have found so far) can grab the code from your blog, for example, and post it in the areas you deem useful, which broadens your reach.
•Note: Watch out for duplicates with FeedBurner; if you have it automatically post updates to some sites and you also use a connector site such as ping.fm, overlapping can occur.

Puzzle Piece #3: Reaching an Audience

March 2nd, 2009

Once you have completed the setup, it is time to put these sites to work. Below you will find the recommended sites, their uses and the recommended steps you can take to get things rollin’.

MySpace: do not disregard this site – you may not see it as your target audience, but with over 68 million people visiting a month, can you afford to ignore it?

  • This site has heavy traffic in terms of music and visual arts — interactivity is a huge part of its success. If you have videos or graphic design work, this is the perfect place to display it.
  • Make sure your profile contains a link to your company site.
  • Find friends by searching by name, e-mail address or display name.
  • Expand your network by searching profiles for people with similar interests, and perusing groups applicable to your business.
  • Maintain a personality on the site by updating your material often (at least twice a week), joining groups and conversing with people who take an interest in your posts.

Facebook: this site is perfect for grabbing the attention of educated professionals.

  • To reach out, you can import your contacts from Outlook, import your AIM buddy list or Windows Live contacts, or search via a specific school or company. The site will also recommend new connections based on your own network and information.
  • Make sure your profile contains a link to your company site.
  • Post new material at least twice a week, and join and participate in groups. Use the events, photos and notes features whenever possible to keep your page current.
  • Create a business page in addition to your personal page by simply clicking on “Advertising” at the bottom of any Facebook page, then “pages,” and “create a page.”
  • We recommend creating a company page with an interesting, catchy angle. Have your creative topic be the name of the page, and your company’s name the secondary title.

LinkedIn: This is the go-to site for when you want to reach a skilled audience, as it allows networking among professionals.

  • Find connections by importing your e-mail/address book connections. Also, once you enter your company information, the site will recommend new contacts.
  • Make sure your profile contains a link to your company site.
  • Maintain a presence by joining relative groups and participating in the questions and answers section. Pose thoughtful questions, and only answer when you truly have something helpful to provide. Browse this section regularly.
  • Other apps allow you to upload and share presentations, collect data for polls and more.

You Tube: use this site for viral marketing.

  • Post videos your company has created to an audience of millions.
  • Be sure to link back to your website or embed it in your site or blog – this directs viewers back to your company.

Flickr: Share visual content in a way that engages viewers.

  • Upload pictures and videos to share with your audience.
  • You can organize and tag them, which makes them easier for others to find.
  • Join groups and create new contacts as you become more involved in the site.

Twitter: This is a hugely popular service that is not going away any time soon. It is the best vehicle for frequency outreach and reaching the masses. It truly is the billboard advertising of today – minus the cost.

Finding a market

  • Twitter has search capabilities, so use them – find people you know, people you think sound interesting and people you think want to hear what you’re all about. Research shows about 15 percent of the people you follow will then follow you.
  • Tweet using the budurl service so you can track readership numbers.

Fixing the numbers

  • Once you have a base of followers/ followees, use Twellow.com to find industry-specific people to follow.
  • Employ the Twubble service (http://www.crazybob.org/twubble/) to expand your circle. It searches your friends’ friends and suggests new twitterers for you to follow. Remember, it’s quality, not quantity.
  • Twitter Karma gives you a full list of who you follow and who follows you, so you can see how they compare. You can filter the results in different ways and it shows you how your numbers are stacking up so you can do some purging if need be.

Blogger: there are many blogging sites out there (WordPress, Blogdrive, LiveJournal), but Blogger is our personal fave.

  • Use your blog to create personal brands, which can then in turn add value and credibility to the corporate brand.
  • Make the content useful and entertaining. Do not simply blog about company achievements – make the copy personable, and give readers a reason to return.
  • Make your blog title catchy and your headlines creative.
  • Keep is short and sweet.
  • Include links and keywords.

Add the “Add This” function to your blog. This will allow others to share your posts.

1. First, log into addthis.com and click on “Get Your Button.”
2. Select the options you want. For our purposes, we selected the following options: What kind of button? Sharing/bookmarking. Where? On a blog. Performing platform? Blogger
3. Open a new tab for blogger. Log in and click on “View blog.”
4. Select “customize,” then “edit HTML.”
5. Click on “expand widget templates.”
6. Go back to the AddThis tab and copy the code you were given for your blog.
7. Return to the tab that contains your blog. Insert that code directly after <div class='post-footer'> tag within your blog’s HTML.
8. Save your settings. Now the AddThis button will appear after every blog post you write.


Add the Simplaris Blogcast application to your Facebook account.
Search for and add the application within Facebook.

  1. Search for and add the application within Facebook
  2. Within the settings, add your blogspot address.
  3. Recommended settings: times automatic, one paragraph, send to my blog, show pictures

Note: If you use Blogger, you cannot have ping.fm update your blog on Facebook. Instead, download the Simplaris Blogcast app in Facebook using the above suggestions and your friends will be alerted when you create a new post.

Twitter Gives Light to Community Outreach

February 26th, 2009

What was life like before Twitter? I can hardly remember the days before I received HotAmishChick’s updates (example tweet: “Tobias: ‘Wow! How many bonnets can one girl own?!’ Me: ‘Four.’ We lead a simple life.”), and Meanbot’s mean-but-funny retorts (Meanbot is “seldom misquoted by her children. In fact they usually repeat word for word the things she should not have said.”). But all jokes aside, Twitter had proven some very real worth in the business world, and it has also opened the door to some great things going on in the field.

Case in point: While perusing Twitter this month, I saw some tweets about an event aiming to help school age children in Texas get healthy. For some reason or another it caught my attention, and I decided to dig into it to see what it was all about. Some quick research showed me this: The National Dairy Council, in conjunction with numerous other organizations like the Houston Independent School District, spearheaded a “Healthy Kids, Healthy Schools” summit this past weekend. This working session brought together forward-thinking individuals willing to take charge in eliminating childhood obesity. Suggestions were made, projects were defined and challenges were addressed – all in an effort to help Houston-area students be more fit and healthy.

A recent blog post by Seth Godin (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/) included this paragraph: “Just like every powerful tool, the impact comes from the craftsman, not the tool. Marketing has more reach, with more speed, than it has ever had before. With less money, you can have more impact than anyone could have imagined just ten years ago. The question, one I hope you’ll ask yourself, is what are you going to do with that impact?”

In my eyes, the National Dairy Council decided to use its impact to do the best type of marketing: the type that helps others. It is a great principle on many levels, as the National Dairy Council will be affiliated with a summit that is all about creating change – and members of the council are taking time to educate people in the hopes of bettering their lives. The council attained quality face time with the community, but the fact they are taking time to make a difference is something great to have associated with its name. Companies can often seem unattainable and impersonal, but through efforts such as this, they can attach a community-outreach persona to their name while helping our youth improve their futures. I’m glad to see there are still some organizations out there that are promoting good.

Puzzle Piece #2: Social Networking, Microblogging and Blogging Sites

February 23rd, 2009

Once you get the gist, it’s time to get rolling. First, you will need to create profiles on the following top social networking, microblogging and blogging sites:

Social Networking:
1. MySpace
2. Facebook
3. LinkedIn

4. You Tube
5. Flickr


Microblogging:
6. Twitter


Blogging:
7. Blogger/Wordpress

And, just in case you are wondering what the microblogging/blogging is all about, here is some background for you:
  • Microblogging sites (i.e. Twitter) allow you to post short versions (around 140 characters) of what you are up to. You can post a new article, blog entry, or article as a “tweet,” status update, etc, which others can then view.
  • Blogging sites allow for more room and greater versatility. Write relatively short posts that will engage the reader