Archive for September, 2011
There’s no question PR (and online distribution of news releases in particular) is beneficial to search engine rankings. Links are SEO fuel and well-crafted and placed news releases can provide text-specific links from high-authority news sites. While there is some debate about how recent changes to search engine algorithms may have affected the value of these links, there is no question that they remain important. So which online press release distribution sites are best for SEO purposes?
- • Write high-quality, “newsworthy” news releases. Never write news releases only for SEO purposes. High-quality releases are more likely to catch the attention of your market, get picked up by high-authority news outlets, enhance your brand image and provide valuable backlinks than keyword-stuffed fluff.
- • Include text links within releases. In this press release for example, notice how the phrase records management software points back to a highly relevant web page for that term. This may seem obvious, but never use a press release distribution service that strips out these links. There are plenty of alternatives that will leave your links intact.
- • Use at least one paid service. While it doesn’t hurt to use free services as well, journalists tend to pay more attention to news releases from trusted, paid sources than to the free ones and paid services generally provide better placement.
Okay, so which sites are best? Answers vary depending on who you ask.
In How to Select the Best Wire Service to Distribute Your News Release, Robert Beadle places PRWeb and PR Newswire (following upgrades to its website) at the top of his list for most organizations. He notes that Business Wire is also very strong, but is the most expensive of the “big four,” is most suitable for large, publicly-traded companies and the PR firms who serve them. He places MarketWire at the bottom of his list, though it is reasonably priced and has strong distribution for more localized and IT-related news releases.
Ted Weismann, in What Do You Know About Your Wire Service’s SEO Practices?, notes that PR Newswire initially took a search traffic hit from Google’s Panda update, but has since made changes to its site to regain lost ground. Business Wire has also addressed Panda. It’s not clear what other PR distribution sites have done to respond.
Search guru Lee Odden, in the SlideShare presention SEO + PR Tactics and Measurement (which also contains some excellent general guidance on optimizing news releases for SEO benefit), favors PR Newswire, though he notes that all of the big four provide SEO value. UPDATE: Lee actually endorses PRWeb for SEO. See the comments below.
This Press Release Wire Service Comparison from Clarity Quest ranks PR Web on top, and echoes Robert Beadle’s conclusion that MarketWire is a viable alternative for budget-conscious local firms. Unlike Beadle, however, the team at Clarity Quest doesn’t view Business Wire as an expensive, big-company-only alternative, stating that “Through their partnership with PR Web, you can get one of the best deals on the Web…For smaller B2B companies and startups, we use the BusinessWire package with PR Web.” The post goes hard on PR Newswire, but it’s not clear if this opinion reflects the recent changes PR Newswire has made to address SEO issues.
Based on traffic trends from both ComScore and Experian, PR Newswire leads all of the service in search engine referral traffic, followed closely by PRWeb, then in order Business Wire and MarketWire. Globe Newswire comes in the bottom of both graphs.
So much for the experts. What do actual PR practitioners think? According to this LinkedIn discussion on What is the best Press Release Service for results? Free or Paid, PRWeb (owned by PR monitoring firm Vocus) is the clear winner, followed by PR Newswire. Business Wire and MarketWire get honorable mentions, as do a few other lesser-known fee-based and some free PR distribution sites.
The bottom line? All of the big four do a pretty good job at helping with news release links for SEO. Which is the “best” service depends on your particular situation. PRWeb seems worth checking out for almost any company, and is a no-brainer for those already using Vocus. PR Newswire is another strong service, though slightly more expensive. Business Wire is likely the best choice for large firms with correspondingly large PR budgets, though its package with PRWeb is worth investigating for smaller B2B vendors as well. MarketWire appears best for budget-conscious companies and those primarily concerned with local news release distribution (and is also effective at reaching targeted industry publications).
Have a different opinion, experience or perspective? Comments are welcome.
The best B2B marketing blogs are once again creatively presented by marketing automation provider Eloqua and JESS3 in this year’s Blog Tree. It’s gratifying to see that Webbiquity sprouted a leaf this time out. As Joe Chernov explains in his blog tree post, “All gene pools benefit from healthy DNA, and if the blogosphere is going to continue to evolve, it’s important that new voices are heard. The Blog Tree: New Growth cheers about 60 active, insightful blogs launched (or significantly re-engineered) after January 1, 2009. It’s truly a collection of the freshest voices on the Web.”
You can find the interactive PDF version of this very cool infographic here or in Joe’s post.It’s great to see some familiar names like Pam Moore The Marketing Nut, Mack Collier, Savvy B2B Marketing and B2B Bloggers on this year’s tree, as well as a lot of new blogs to check out.
Pamela Slim’s Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur is the bible for the self-employed—and those burned out on the corporate world who’d like to become independent. Despite the ongoing recession, the book retains its timeliness. Though there may now be fewer people wishing to escape the corporate world and more wishing they could once again be part of it, the book remains important for those stuck in dead-end corporate positions as well as the unemployed looking for a way to thrive in the downsized economy. If you work independently, would like to work on your own, or see no other option than to build your own business, this book is indispensable.
Slim divides her book into four sections, but more broadly speaking there are just two: what I’d call the Excitement section and the Reality section. The first is more entertaining, but the second more essential.
In her opening chapter, “I Have a Fancy Title, Steady Paycheck, and Good Benefits. Why Am I So Miserable?,” Slim assures readers that they aren’t crazy for wanting something more or different. The myriad problems of the corporate world largely come down to a single element: poor leadership. Too many companies expect their people to give extraordinary effort and self-sacrifice in exchange for a dysfunctional work environment, endless stress and little if any long-term job security. Her “Open Letter to CXOs Across the Corporate World,” originally written as blog post (which caught the attention of Guy Kawasaki, who helped it go viral) on the inadequacies of corporate leadership, is worth the cost of the book on its own. A brief excerpt:
“Don’t spend millions of dollars to try and change your culture. Corporate culture is a natural thing that can’t be manufactured. No amount of posters, incentive programs, PowerPoint presentations or slogans on websites will affect the hearts and minds of your employees. If you want to see things change immediately, stop acting like an asshole. If you see one of your senior managers acting like an asshole, ask him to stop. If he doesn’t stop, fire him. You will be amazed at how fast the culture shifts.”
The remainder of section 1 is by turns frustrating, funny and exhilarating as Slim skewers corporate groupthink, addresses fears real and imagined, and helps the reader imagine a better world. But she notes that self-employment isn’t a magical path to happiness and isn’t right for everyone. I’d add that for some people unhappy in their current corporate roles, working to improve the situation internally, transferring to a different department or location, or getting a different job may be better alternatives than striking out on their own. How do you know?
On key test Slim provides is a quote from author Jim Collins:
“He referred to the ultimate work situation as your ‘sweet spot.’ This is the intersection of three interlocking circles:
- • The first circle is ‘what people will pay you to do’—marketable skills and abilities that you have developed over your working life.
- • The second is ‘that which you have great passion for’—areas of interest, hobbies, ideas, or causes that make your heart race.
- • The third, and most elusive, is ‘that which you are genetically encoded to do’—the things that you were brought on this earth to accomplish that no one else on the planet can do as well as you.”
For some people, that “sweet spot” will necessarily be found only as part of a larger organization (even if not with their current employer or employment situation). For others, however, independence is the answer. And it for those souls that the second section of the book is crucial.
The tone as well as the content in the second part of the book shifts. Actually making the move to self employment is far different from sitting in a gray cubicle and imagining it. And Slim has high goals for this book; it’s about creating a new life, not just a new career. “Your life plan lays out the specific ways that your life would be structured to provide for maximum enjoyment and productivity. When done well, it is not a pie-in-the-sky vision; it is a blueprint for designing a great business.”
The second section covers all of the key considerations those contemplating (or jumping into) self-employment need to address: choosing the right business idea, recruiting help (mentors and connections), writing a business plan, making financial adjustments, shopping for benefits and more. Among the highlights:
- • Great advice on how to determine whether you really have a great business idea (e.g., “you have a unique approach, skill, or capability that will allow you to serve this need better than anyone else…your target market not only is interested in what you have to offer, but has the money to pay for what you are selling”) or just an expensive hobby (“when you discuss the idea with people who would be the target market for your product or service, they are either overcome by an embarrassing silence or are direct like Michael Bolton from [the movie] Office Space and say ‘That is the worst business idea I have ever heard.’”).
- • How to recruit a team of advisors, connections and mentors who will help you make your business successful through investment, guidance, introductions and more. She calls this your “High Council of Jedi Knights.”
- • How to develop “natural networking” ability (another section that is worth the price of the book in itself). She expands on key approaches including being interested, noticing what’s important to the person you are networking with, asking for an introduction, and being nice to everyone. Much of may sound obvious, but it’s amazing how uncommon these skills really are.
- • How to write a business plan. Slim helpfully lays a series of “blocks” critical to any business plan that help organize thoughts, create a natural flow, and include all of the essential elements needed to raise funds and simply make sure no important details are overlooked.
- • Ignore competitors. Okay, not completely of course, but don’t obsess about them. This is great advice not only for solopreneurs but for established businesses as well. Steve Jobs never worried about what his competitors were doing; he focused on creating things were new, cool and that customers would love. As Slim puts this, “When you shift your focus from understanding who your competitors are to spending half your time thinking about them, you have ceded your own power. In essence, you are choosing the role of follower and not leader. Focus on what is exciting, special, unique, and revolutionary about your own business.”
- • Avoid corporatespeak. The second section of the book, though more direct and down to earth than the first, isn’t without its own gems. Slim recommends getting a “gang member coach” (okay, perhaps not literally) to help you “keep it real.” Discussing a meeting where a corporate CXO was droning on in meaningless corporate buzzwords, she imagines having a gang member in the room:
“Joe, VP of Alliance Partnerships: ‘And as you can see from my deck, by creating a strategic partnership that focuses on key enablers of the new paradigm, we can leverage out-of-the-box thinking and deliver an integrated solution to our end-users.’
Juan, the Gang Member Coach: ‘Joe, what the f**k are you talking about?’
In five minutes or less, Joe, the stammering vice president, would have to explain in clear, plain terms what he was trying to say.”
Leaving the corporate world to pursue independence is not a move to be taken lightly, and Slim gives this decision the gravity it deserves, along with practical, comprehensive and thoughtful guidance on how to first determine if such a move is right for you, and then how to execute if the answer is “yes.” The grass isn’t greener on the other side of the fence, but it definitely tastes different. You’ll be giving up a steady paycheck, benefits and paid vacations for income diversification (having multiple clients means your entire income isn’t based on the fortunes of any single enterprise), scheduling flexibility, and no more rush hour commutes.
If you love the corporate world and the thought of striking out on your own scares the pants off you, this book isn’t for you. But if you are considering blazing your own trail or are new to working independently, Escape from Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur is a must-read vital resource.
Social media marketing has gone well beyond the hype stage and is now mainstream business practice. Still, questions remain: how do I use social media most effectively across the enterprise? Which social media monitoring tools should I use? What should I monitor for? How do I use my time and resources most effectively? What social media developments and trends should I be watching?
And of course, there’s the ongoing social media ROI debate: how do I measure this? Can social media ROI really be measured? Influential voices like Olivier Blanchard and Jacquie McCarnan present formulas and methods for ROI calculation, while Steve Goldman contends that social media ROI can’t be measured in isolation, and Jackie Cohen reports that more than a third of CMOs still have no idea whether or not social media marketing is producing any ROI.
What to do? Read on for answers to these questions and more from some of the best minds in social media in some of their best blog posts and articles of 2011 so far.
Social Media Strategy and Best Practices
9 Ways B2B Companies Can Use Location Based Services by Social Media B2B
The always-insightful Adam Holden-Bache contends that location-based services like Foursquare aren’t just for consumer marketers, and supplies ideas on how B2B marketers can capitalize such as through partnerships with non-competitive local businesses, incentives and rewards, and in event marketing (“Are you seeing a lot of your contacts attending certain business events? Whether it’s a local tweet-up or a major conference, this knowledge could be useful to help you plan what events you should sponsor or where you should set up your next booth”).
Is Social Media Really Living Up to Expectations? by B2B Lead Roundtable Blog
Brian Carroll talks with MECLABS Director of Research Sergio Balegno about the disconnect between social media activity and results in the B2B environment, and concludes that “marketers are expecting way too much too soon.” Social media adoption on both the buyer and vendor side is happening with incredible speed; the tools that we’ve developed to track other web marketing activities haven’t kept pace. As social media monitoring and integration with CRM systems improves, marketers will have the metrics and analytical tools to more accurately assess the value of various social media efforts and continually improve them.
The B2B Social Media Landscape: a portrait by Beyond
***** 5 STARS
The social media approach that nobody wants to hear by Hugo Guzman
Hugo Guzman explains the importance of listening and planning before jumping into social media (failures also noted previously here in the dirty dozen top 12 social media mistakes to avoid). He lists nine steps its imperative for companies to take in order to “build enough social karma (yes, I said karma) to facilitate things like guest posting opportunities, retweets, likes, etc.”
19 Social Media Best Practices [VIDEO] by Social Media Explorer
30 Ways to Use Social Media for Business People by SEOptimise
Citing a recent study showing that “94% of businesses actually do not use social media even for the most obvious task it’s good for: Getting feedback”–and another demonstrating that those businesses are less competitive–Tad Chef supplies a list of 30 ways businesses can use social media, among them to get feedback, get attention, debunk myths, forge relationships and build links.
5 ways to use social media to build a crowd for your event by Socialbrite
Tamara Mendelsohn of Eventbrite details five guiding principles for promoting events, including choose the right platform, publish your event to Facebook, and “define success metrics and don’t underestimate the effort required.”
Organizing Your Social Media Strategy by CompuKol Connection
Influence in social media: how to find the top bloggers by blur Group
The most underestimated social media asset by iMediaConnection
Noting that “the proper framework of enablement and empowerment can turn a company’s workforce into the most effective means of advancing the goals of the business through social media,” Lori Luechtefeld details IBM’s experience with transforming its business be empowering employees to actively engage as part of the company’s social media strategy.
It’s Not Your CEO’s Fault He’s a Social Media Moron by Social Media Today
Expand Your Social Media Mix: Twitter Alone is Not Enough by Web Strategy by Jeremiah Owyang
***** 5 STARS
Deftly weaving in a dinner analogy to social media, Jeremiah Owyang compares Twitter to shish-kabob (bite-sized morsels of information) that are tasty but need to be supplemented by “steak”–infographics, Slideshare presentations, blog posts–and topped off with online video for dessert.
26 Ways to Use Social Media for Lead Generation by Social Media Examiner
***** 5 STARS
Debbie Hemley compiles another brilliant A to Z post, this one focused on using social media for lead generation. Her list of tactics begins with Assets, Branding and Compelling messages and continues all the way through Word of mouth, eXcellence, adopting a Yes attitude, and demonstrating Zeal in your social media activities and relationship building.
Social Media Tools
10 Steps to Finding the Influencers in Your Market by Junta42
***** 5 STARS
The brilliant Joe Pulizzi details 10 steps for finding and cultivating relationships with the key influencers in your market space. For each step, he identifies the overall strategy, useful tools, and helpful tips for execution.
9 Social Networks Your Business Should Be Using by Likeable Media
The Social Media Strategists Power Tools [Consumption] by NewCommBiz
Social Media and Online Video
9 new rules for YouTube marketing by iMedia Connection
Greg Jarboe lists nine helpful rules for video marketing, such as “Rule 1: YouTube marketing is the new video marketing…YouTube gets more than 86 percent of visits to 77 video sites in this country.” (Hulu, at #2, gets less than 4% of visits.) And “Rule 2: You can’t make it on YouTube alone…even with close to 2.0 billion out of the nearly 5.2 billion viewing sessions in the U.S., only 38 percent of all viewing sessions occurred at YouTube.com…45.13 percent of viewers discovered videos by going to a video site (i.e., going to YouTube and running a search or clicking around the featured or related videos). But 44.24 percent of viewers discovered videos embedded on blogs or other websites.”
Social media: Adding video to your digital marketing plan by SignOn San Diego
Erik Bratt expounds on the popularity of video marketing (“video capability was the fastest-growing website feature for small-business advertisers in 2009, with one in five hosting website video by the end of the year”) and the different types of videos businesses can consider using, including screencasts, customer testimonials and video email.
7 Little Known Tricks That Will Get You More YouTube Views by SocialTimes
Social Media Case Studies
The Fantabulous Lists of Social Media Case Studies by Social Media Today
Looking for examples of social media success to emulate? Giedrius Ivanauskas supplies 17 lists of social media case studies such as WOMMA’s Case Study Library and 35+ Examples of Corporate Social Media in Action from Mashable.
B2B Social Media Example: GE MarkNet by Social Media B2B
Social Media Trends and Predictions
2011 Trends: Make Your Corporate Site A Social Media Hub by Business 2 Community
Pam Moore outlines a dozen ways companies can fail at social media marketing, from not understanding the social media “ecosystem” for their industry or hiring the wrong consultant/agency for help to assuming social media will fix a broken business (it’s won’t–it will expose it) and having unrealistic expectations in general.
Social media: What lies ahead? by iMedia Connection
Shelly Palmer predicts that Facebook will face increased competition from better tools, that smart phones will continue to advance and account for a higher share of online traffic, and more in this 11-minute video.
Are These Social Media Trends of 2011 Part of Your Strategy? by Social Media Today
It is the structure of social networks that shapes influence… and the structure is changing by Trends in the Living Networks
Ross Dawson delves into the concept of influence networks to explain why some tweets go viral and others don’t, noting that this is a rapidly evolving area and that research shows “professional blogs are the most influential news media in sports and the second most influential media in politics and national news, while personal blogs are the most influential in entertainment and the second most influential in technology. In general the influence of blogs tends to decay more slowly than other media.”
Social Media Policies and Regulation
10 Steps to Managing Employees on Social Media by Write Speak Sell
**** 5 STARS
Noting that “Well-written (social media) policies prevent public relations disasters and potential legal liability. In addition, when done properly, they also create environments that foster productivity and loyalty among employees,” Kyle-Beth Hilfer provides an outstanding 10-step list to use as a guide in writing a social media policy.
Social Media Policy Unites Social Media Initiatives by Social Media Today
Going down the same path as Who Should Write Your Social Media Policy?, Tim McCord emphasizes the need to create a team when crafting a social media policy and selecting monitoring tools.
NLRB Says Companies Can Not Discipline Workers For Posts in Social Media by iMedia Connection
In news that every company needs to hear thought most likely don’t want to, Chris Boudreaux reports on a recent case wherein the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) determined that “companies can not discipline workers who post criticisms on social-networking sites.” Chris concludes with: “This clarification by the NLRB is a big deal for a lot of companies in the United States.” Indeed it is.
Social Media and SEO
Why social media optimization is the new SEO by iMedia Connection
Noting that many people now “receive the majority of their news on Twitter or via posts on Facebook and LinkedIn before resorting to a Google search on any given topic…How many times have you seen an article posted on Facebook or Twitter that has either made you click on it, or urged you to suddenly search about the topic? It’s a fascinating process,” Dennis Franczak explains why social media optimization (SMO) is now taking center stage in online marketing and how to go about it successfully.
Jennifer Sable Lopez offers a nine-step checklist to making social media activities SEO-friendly, such as incorporating keyword research and making sure your content is easily sharable across the most popular social networks. She uses the word campaign unfortunately, but otherwise it’s a helpful post.
Why Not Be The CMO Of Everyone? by MediaPost Search Insider
***** 5 STARS
Writing that “every person in an enterprise is potentially an authentic, invested content producer, networker or influencer. Very often, employees in large enterprises are actively evangelizing their brands or products and no one in the home office even realizes it,” Derek Gordon advises CMOs to solicit content from the broadest possible array of contributors within an organization in order to develop more valuable, search-optimized copy.
Social Media Monitoring
20 free, awesome social media monitoring tools by Socialbrite
Top 20 social media monitoring vendors for business by Socialmedia.biz
J.D. Lasica and Kim Bale review 20 powerful fee-based tools for professional social media monitoring, among them Radian6, Lithium, Alterian SM2 and Attentio. For guidance on how to evaluate these tools, check out 9 Criteria for Selecting a Social Media Monitoring Tool.
Top 10 analytics tools for social media by iMedia Connection
Pam Sahota provides helpful mini-reviews of 20 free social media monitoring tools worth checking out, from Twilerts and Backtype through Proxlet (which, among other features, helpfully filters out those annoying Foursquare checkin tweets) and Trendrr.
Social Media Dashboards by CompuKol Connection
Neil Glassman raises a number of questions to help focus social media monitoring activities (e.g.,”Does your query language mesh with your consumers’ language? Or is it industry language?”) then makes three key recommendations to help organizations really get value out of social media monitoring.
Social Media Metrics and ROI
6 Critically Undervalued Social Media Success Metrics by Convince & Convert
Jay Baer details the half-dozen social media metrics and tools he views as the most meaningful yet undervalued, from the Klout scores of your Twitter followers (rather than just number of followers) to share of voice and inbound links.
Social media metrics: 5 things to learn in 2011 by Ragan.com
Social Media Strategists Look Hard at ROI this Year by eMarketer
According to research from The Altimeter Group, “when it came to social media programs, 82% of respondents reported they would be investing in brand monitoring in 2011, while 77% cited staff budgets and 78% training budgets…Creating ROI measurements tops the list of internal social strategy objectives for 2011, with 48.3% of respondents highlighting that goal.”
3 Ways social media market research can impact your business by ListenLogic
Noting that “Market research is now beginning to leverage social media in a revolutionary way that provides insights and impact across the organization,” Chris Karnes explains how social media listening can be used to measure marketing campaign effectiveness, drive purchasing decisions and inspire product innovation.
6 Buckets of Social Media Measurement by Take a Peck
Jason Peck details six “buckets” of metrics companies should use to evaluate the success of various social media initiatives, including business metrics, awareness (e.g. website traffic, searches for brand terms) and engagement (Facebook likes, blog comments, retweets, etc.).
Social Media ROI for Idiots by Social Media Today
Hmm, not to sure about the title of this post, as idiots are unlikely to get social media ROI. Or even to get social media for that matter. But regardless, Jacquie McCarnan helpfully provides several different formulas for calculating social media ROI, based on different factors such as qualified leads, employee retention, and customer engagement.
Measuring the Stages of the Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel by SocialSteve’s Blog
***** 5 STARS
Contending that social media ROI can’t be measured in isolation, Steve Goldner recommends instead measuring its contribution to the business through key performance indicators (KPIs) including awareness, consideration, loyalty and advocacy. His brilliant “Cyclic Social Media Marketing Funnel” graphic makes the post worth a look in itself.
Social Media ROI business measurement by Slideshare
***** 5 STARS
Social Media Research, Facts and Statistics
Gordon MacMillan reports on research from McKinsey showing that “companies that are starting to do it (social media marketing) well are being rewarded for their efforts (e.g., with higher operating margins and market share). More than that, it says those that fail to implement social media could be making a ‘critical mistake.’” He also shares four key steps McKinsey suggests executives should take to move their organizations forward.
Chris Boudreaux cites a study concluding that nearly 9 in 10 large-company CEOs believe social media is important to their business strategies, and that “43% of CEOs say they will ‘significantly change’ their strategies in the next three years to respond to customers’ increased use of social media and mobile devices.”
STUDY: Return On Investment In Facebook Eludes CMOs by All Facebook
Jackie Cohen summarizes and comments on a recent Bazaarvoice / CMO Club showing that “Nine out of every ten Chief Marketing Officers participate in at least three forms of social media promotions, yet many don’t know whether these efforts yield a return on investment…(while) 15.4 percent have a significant return on investment and 20.6 percent have an average return…34.9 percent said they don’t know whether they have an ROI, and 8.6 percent have none.”
How much does Social Media cost companies in 2011? by MackCollier.com
***** 5 STARS
Mack Collier very helpfully provides social media consultants, and companies looking to hire them, with pricing benchmarks for common types of projects. For example, ghostwritten blog posts cost anywhere from $50 to $500 per post, with most providers charging $100-$250.