Archive for November, 2012
While consumer brand marketers are embracing Pinterest enthusiastically, many B2B marketers are still in a quandary about the visual sharing site. On one hand, it’s highly engaging, rapidly growing, and has more than 11 million users. On the other hand, 80% of users are women and the most popular topics continue to be fashion, cooking, home decor, crafts, weddings and kids.
So, is Pinterest worthwhile for business marketing? Does it really help with SEO? And if Pinterest is worth the effort of getting to know the ins and outs of yet another social network, what are the best practices for using it?
The seven experts below contend that the site is indeed worthwhile for business, that it’s sort of helpful for SEO, and that their tips can lead to business success there. While some B2B marketers will likely remain skeptical, there’s no sign of Pinterest’s growth slowing anytime soon and the demographics are shifting, making the site at least worth keeping an eye on for now.
How To Get The Most Out Of Pinterest by Search Engine People
Advising “If you’re an entrepreneur, marketer or small business owner, do yourself a favor and join the site now,” Matt Beswick provides a concise but helpful guide to using the visual social network, from getting started and building a following to generating more traffic and properly categorizing your graphics.
Why Pinterest Is NOT Your SEO Miracle Worker by Search Engine Land
Jordan Kasteler notes that while SEO practitioners initially flocked to Pinterest for its do-follow links, the site changed course and switched to the insidious no-follow links in March 2012. Nevertheless, he does suggest seven ways for SEO pros to constructively use Pinterest as a social network rather than a source of easy backlinks.
B2B Marketing & Pinterest: 5 Tips for Becoming the Ultimate Pinner by Marketo B2B Marketing and Sales Blog
Chris Russell offers five tips for using Pinterest for B2B marketing, such as “Pinterest’s search is all about keywords…simply adding a description (adjectives help!) will immediately get eyes on your pin…They’re basically the same rules as Yahoo search circa 1996. Load up relevant, popular keywords in the description of your pins and boards and you are guaranteed to get more views/likes/follows.”
Oli Gardner provides the “10 commandments” of using Pinterest for business, in both text and infographic form, among them: “honor thy source,” “remember to be social” and perhaps most helpfully, “Research and measure your pins — A key here is to check Google Analytics to see the value of the Pinterest traffic you are getting…also don’t be afraid NOT to use Pinterest if you can’t make it successful.”
7 Surprising Pinterest Insights Every Marketer Needs by Heidi Cohen
Heidi Cohen contends that if you are skipping Pinterest because you’ve heard it’s “a female dominated, crafting ghetto” then you are “missing out on an important social media marketing opportunity regardless of whether your business is B2C, B2B, not-for-profit or solopreneur oriented.” And she backs it up with research showing that Pinterest’s user base is increasing male, 80% prime working age (between 25 and 54 years old), highly engaged and mobile-savvy.
Pin to Win: The Ultimate Short Guide to Pinterest for Business by Social Media Today
Brett Relander puts forth nine “no-fail guidelines” to business success on Twitter, such as “Keep your boards in order. A common mistake is to dump all your content onto one board. Instead, use different boards to break down content in a way that makes sense,” and “Take care with your links…Make sure that your Pinterest links take the viewer directly to the exact right content. Another important point is to check links for images that you are re-pinning. When you re-pin, you are implicitly delivering a recommendation, so make sure the link works and is not spam.”
25 Tips to More Effective Marketing on Pinterest by Brent Price Carnduff
Brent Carnduff suggests setting up a business page, verifying your account, tagging other Pinterest users, adding “follow me on Pinterest” and “Pin it” buttons to your website or blog, and creating boards with tutorials or product instructions among the more than two dozen helpful Pinterest tips here.
Guest post by Megan Totka.
Today’s social/mobile/local technology makes reputation management a big concern for many businesses. The online dynamic makes it easier than ever for customers to take out their frustrations about a bad experience or share a heartfelt allegiance to a particular company. Websites like Yelp, Foursquare and TripAdvisor allow users to “check in” every time they visit a business. Users can then rate their trip from one to five stars, add comments, add quick tips, tell others what to avoid and what to definitely do, and review their overall experience. For customers these online services, which are even more readily accessible because of mobile apps and different mobile marketing companies, can impact which new places they visit.
For small business owners though, these online review sites can be a headache, not just because customers will inevitably point out your flaws, but because they make reputation management extremely challenging. This is why web presence has to be made a priority. Not that a business should ignore online reviews, certainly; some can be very helpful in pointing out necessary changes to your company to make you more successful in the future. But the danger is business owners can become obsessed with bad reviews. This obsession can be very hurtful to a small business owner. Rather than focusing on important business operations, owners are too involved with the uncontrollable. This can include loosing too much revenue by trying to please customers who posted bad reviews, allowing negative feelings about reviews to impact employee morale, or making too many changes in trying to please every customer. Business owners need to find a balance between addressing unhappy customers through online reviews and ignoring trolls just out to cause trouble or get something for free.
To better understand the perspective, think of the “old school” newspaper reviews. Food critics and movie reviews would be posted weekly. These treviews along with features on schools, hotels and local businesses would be published, written by professionals. Brand reputation management was much simpler then. With their own reputations at stake, writers had to post truthful information and be as objective as possible. Businesses could request a retraction if something written were completely outrageous. The information was considered trustworthy because it was the job of a professional reviewer to be informative and accurate. These types of review still get posted and read but often aren’t as influential as in the past.
The online effect of having users able to impact the decisions of other customers requires small businesses to better understand reputation management. Businesses with established brands can perhaps afford to lose a few customers to a bad review. But small businesses rely on continued positive word of mouth (and “word of mouse”) to keep their name spreading from happy customers to their friends.
To best control brand reputation, small business owners should use tactics like open communications with employees and customers, empathy for the customers’ needs and concerns, and flexible but throughtful processes for handling issues. Small business managers need to know appropriate corrective measures that keep their best customers coming back while attracting new customers as well.
For more reputation management tips, read up on using social media to your advantage to increase your web presence, and customer service techniques to keep clients loyal.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for Chamber of Commerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources.
As online marketing processes have evolved, the number and sophistication of software tools to support specific functions has exploded. Every discipline within marketing and PR has its own tools, among them:
SEO: backlink tools (Backlink Watch, SEOmoz, Majestic), keyword research tools, page optimization tools, SEO plugins.
Social media: social media monitoring (Radian6, Sysomos, SM2), social media management (HootSuite, SocialOomph, Buffer), Twitter tools, etc.
Web analytics: Omniture, WebTrends, Google Analytics, Clicky, and more.
All are very helpful, even essential, but most are designed for practitioners, that is: they help a specialist in a particular discipline do his or her job more effectively. Not only are they tactical, each focuses on supporting one functional silo or another. Not surprising, since this is how digital marketing is managed today—as a set of largely disconnected specialties. So much so, companies utilize different tools, resources, and in some cases, even different agencies to manage web visibility for brand, SEO, social media, PR, and paid advertising.
And of course, search has evolved—it’s no longer just 10 blue links. Today, web presence goes way beyond a company’s website. News and social links are as vital as are other points of visibility. What’s missing is the larger strategic picture needed for top-level decision-making and for managing digital marketing and PR in a coordinated manner. We’re all missing this because there aren’t tools to help us do it. Or are there?
A “Eureka” Moment
A couple of weeks ago, we blogged about the web presence optimization (WPO) framework. This model (evolved from a 2010 post) came about from KC Associates’ (KCA) client consulting projects. Operating as a cross-functional team, each consultant knew that a framework for optimization is useless unless there’s a way to track and measure gaiting factors that can be adjusted in order to move the optimization needle. So the group took a long, hard look at the tactical tools each consultant uses with a more creative mind of how they might be repurposed for WPO.
For example, SEO backlink tools can provide detailed lists of the precise backlinks to a competitor’s website. This can be quite valuable to an SEO consultant, but it’s mind-numbing overkill for a VP of marketing.
However, a graphical comparison of the type and quantity of backlinks pointing to the firm’s website and the sites of close competitors may be very enlightening (e.g., discovering that competitor A has twice as many media links and three times as many social links pointing to them)—particularly if these measures have changed significantly in a short period of time.
This simple change in thinking was truly eye-opening.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
First and foremost, the WPO framework provides the strategic and structural approach to the unified management of web visibility. And WPO metrics that support this framework provide the critical measurement necessary to enable the overall coordination of these disciplines to improve presence optimization and performance.
The set of 100+ WPO metrics that the group developed for KCA clients is driven by data collected by a host of off-the-shelf tools as well as some custom developed sources. As a collection, the attributes of these metrics differ from what most other tracking and measurement tools are set up to provide in six distinct ways:
- • Focus on management, not execution. WPO metrics are designed to support management decision-making (e.g., where should we devote more resources) rather than tweaks to specific tactics. Put another way, they are about the “what” rather than the “how.”
- • Provide a unified view of results. They provide leaders and team members with an overall picture of press (media outlets), social, website (organic search), industry (e.g. associations, research organizations) and paid web presence. The tactical tools available tend to focus on one or two of these areas.
- • Include competitor metrics. An organization’s digital marketing results don’t exist in a vacuum; it’s critical to be able to view results in the context of competitive activities. Competitive benchmarking is vital to developing strategy and allocating resources.
- • Reflect the value of owned, earned and paid presence, not just the company website. What customers, analysts, journalists, bloggers, and others have to say about you is sometimes more important than your own content. WPO metrics show the value of all of your points of web presence, whether it’s your content or something produced by a third party.
- • Are actionable and NOT “everything but kitchen sink.” Too many tools try to report every possible detail, rather than just what’s important. The result is data overload and analysis paralysis. It’s confusing and too much to absorb, and therefore doesn’t get acted upon. Best-practice WPO metrics focus only on measures that support concrete action.
- • Identify clear priorities. While WPO metrics cover a lot of ground, not every measure matters all the time. For example, if your media share-of-voice remains about the same from one month to the next, but your AdWords conversion rate drops by half, WPO metrics focus on the latter result.
WPO metrics won’t replace tactical, execution-level tools, but they will help guide decisions about which functional tools to use and how to coordinate the tasks of different disciplines for a larger purpose. They fill a critical gap by giving marketing executives, and everyone on digital marketing and PR teams, a unified view of web presence that reflects a more integrated optimization effort.
I was reminded of that famous quote from Mark Twain recently in a Twitter exchange about the web presence optimization framework. Although the framework has been for the most part enthusiastically embraced (and dozens of people have downloaded the framework white paper), a few people on Twitter questioned the need for a “new” marketing concept.
While “search plus social plus content” is inarguably inelegant, it was suggested that other terms such as “online marketing” or “inbound marketing” already covered the concept of web presence optimization (WPO). Although those are clearly important concepts, they don’t cover the spectrum of an organization’s web presence and related activities, which is why the WPO model was introduced nearly three years ago.
Since its introduction, the concept has been embraced by tools vendors and covered in publications like iMedia Connection, Search Engine Watch, Business2Community and Social Media Today, and Website Magazine.
Nevertheless, the point raised on Twitter is valid: a number of overlapping terms in use address at least parts of the digital marketing and PR mix. Perhaps the definitions below will help to clarify the role of WPO as an overarching management framework.
Web Presence Optimization (WPO)
Web presence is essentially web visibility; it’s about being as ubiquitous and easy-to-find as possible when buyers are searching for information about what you and your competitors sell. Anything about your company or products that appears somewhere online—whether owned, earned or paid content—contributes to your web presence.
Tracking over time and against competitors as well as managing and continually improving this for relevant, maximum exposure is optimization. By using unified metrics, you can manage and coordinate the efforts of specialists in various disciplines, including content development, social media, SEO, PR, online advertising, and reputation management, resulting in efficient and effective optimization of an organization’s total web presence in order to drive business results.
According to content management guru Joe Pulizzi, “Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. A content marketing strategy can leverage all story channels (print, online, in-person, mobile, social, etc.).”
Content marketing is arguably one component of WPO even though it includes offline venues such as print which don’t contribute to web presence. It’s also focused on owned (internally produced) media and does not include metrics or competitive benchmarking.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Per BusinessDictionary.com, SEO is “the process of improving traffic to a given website by increasing the site’s visibility in search engine results. Websites improve search engine optimization by improving content, making sure that the pages are able to be indexed correctly, and ensuring that the content is unique.”
SEO includes technical factors (making sure sites load quickly and are easy to crawl), content factors (keyword research, content optimization, meta tags) and linking factors (building internal and external links).
While SEO is affected by PR and social media activities, metrics, and competitive actions, it’s internally focused (owned media), cannot be used to manage PR or social media marketing activities (except as they relate specifically to website optimization) and is separate from paid search or other online advertising activities.
In the words of HubSpot co-founder and CEO Brian Halligan, inbound marketing is “where you help yourself ‘get found’ by people already learning about and shopping in your industry. In order to do this, you need to set your website up like a ‘hub’ for your industry that attracts visitors naturally through search engines, the blogosphere, and social media.”
Like WPO, inbound marketing incorporates metrics, content creation and optimization, social media, and (in some cases) search engine marketing. Valuable as it is, however, it doesn’t provide the overall online visibility management framework that WPO does because the latter also includes PR, online advertising, competitive benchmarking and earned content.
One element that none of the above concepts address, but is addressed in WPO, is that third-party content (from customers, journalists, bloggers or other influencers) has value in influencing the buyer’s decision-making process, even when it doesn’t lead directly to a lead or sale. Third-party content is often viewed as more objective and credible than company-produced content, making it critical to track, measure and share.
According to About.com, “Online Marketing is the art and science of selling products and/or services over digital networks, such as the Internet and cellular phone networks. The art of online marketing involves finding the right online marketing mix of strategies that appeals to your target market and will actually translate into sales.”
Though it incorporates SEM, online advertising, search optimization, and content marketing, online marketing is transaction-oriented: it’s focused on activities that lead directly to sales for generally low-consideration items including frequently-purchased or impulse-buy consumer goods and low-value business supplies.
WPO, in contrast, has a broader focus on earned content (e.g. social and press) and overall online visibility, which is important for high-value, considered-purchase consumer goods and b2b sales where web research may lead to an online or offline sale.
While this was originally an umbrella term for various types of activities similar to online marketing, Marketing Land notes that the term has since become to large extent co-opted by get-rich quick hoaxes, pyramid schemes and other scams.
As WPO is all about building online credibility, it’s the farthest thing from Internet marketing.
All of which means…
In the end, the Twitterers’ concern about buzzword proliferation isn’t misplaced. Buzzwords are often used to obscure, confuse, or spin. But WPO genuinely illuminates the actionable key metrics of online visibility, enabling marketing executives to make smart decisions about coordinating PR, SEO, SEM, social, and content marketing efforts.
Shareaholic, a content discovery and sharing tools vendor, yesterday announced Shareaholic Channels, a new way to find the most relevant, fresh content based on topic. Of the more than 200,000 publishers who use Shareaholic tools (such as social sharing buttons at the bottom of this post), the company selected the top 25 bloggers in each of the following seven categories to feature:
- • Food
- • Parenting
- • Fitness
- • Fashion & Beauty
- • DIY
- • Social Media Marketing
- • Personal Finance
Who is Shareaholic? According to the company’s website:
“Founded in 2008, Shareaholic has quickly grown from a ‘nights and weekends’ project to a fast-growing VC backed company that today is the leader in making content discovery & sharing on the web a simple, delightful and elegant experience for readers while providing powerful tools to content publishers to measure, analyze and improve the effectiveness of their content to drive even more visibility, traffic, leads and views.
Through web browser extensions, open platform APIs, and one of the largest and fastest growing networks of content publishers, Shareaholic reaches over 270 million people across every continent each month. Or put another way, if Shareaholic was a country, it’d be the 4th largest country in the world.”
The company’s products include tools for browsers, websites (including WordPress plugins), analytics and developers. It’s been featured in publications including TechCrunch, Mashable, ClickZ, Search Engine Land and Fast Company.”
We’re honored that Shareaholic chose to include Webbiquity among its top 25 sources for the Social Media Marketing channel, along with an impressive list of bloggers including Peg Fitzpatrick, Jayme Soulati, Mari (“rhymes with Ferrari”) Smith, Shelly Kramer, Dan Zarella, Janet Aronica, Pam Sahota and Darren Herman.