Posts Tagged ‘Mashable’

Mobile Positioning: A Business Must

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Guest post by University Alliance.

Mobile access to the web has surpassed browser usage. Consumers are growing fonder of their smartphones and tablets, using them to access content and make online purchases in staggering numbers. In fact, by 2015 more U.S. Internet users will access the web through smartphones than through PCs, according to technology site Mashable.com.

Still not convinced? Consider these 2012 statistics:

  • • Twitter estimates 55% of users access the site through a mobile device.
  • • 34% of marketers have generated leads using Twitter.
  • • Click-through rates on search result ads are higher on mobile, according to a Marin Software study. In the fourth quarter 2011, smartphone click-throughs were 1.25%, tablets were 1.31%, and desktop/laptops were .95%.
  • • 57% of Facebook users “like” a business because they want to receive special offers and promotions, according to Mashable.com.
  • • Consumers are engaging with their favorite companies on Facebook, says Mashable.com. 77% said they interact by reading posts and updates, while 17% share experiences and news stories, and 13% post updates about brands they like.
  • • 56% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand to a friend after becoming a Facebook fan, according to Mashable.com.

Social Media Statistics InfographicBut what do these trends mean for today’s businesses? And what do marketers and business owners need to know—and more importantly, do—to keep ahead of consumer demands? First, they should recognize the benefits of creating a mobile strategy that their best customers will respond to.

What Can A Mobile Strategy Do For Me?

Once upon a time (like a year ago), having a mobile strategy was an option, and revamping your company website for mobile was very progressive. Now, having a mobile strategy is a must—no matter what size your business is.

Consumers use mobile devices for entertainment, with books, movies, games and videos; to interact with friends and business on social networks, like Facebook and Twitter; and increasingly, to find information and make immediate buying decisions. What does mobile mean to your company?

Mobile is a direct channel to your target audience. It can have a significant impact on your marketing efforts by increasing awareness of your brand, events and special offers. Mobile marketing can drive traffic to certain locations, and provide a mechanism for instant feedback and engagement. Plus, it can create a whole new generation of opt-in prospects, and give you the means to convert them to customers and evangelists.

Mobile can help you acquire new customers, increase your engagement with them, and drive sales; and you’ll be more successful at all three when your brand message is delivered across all mobile platforms.

Cross-Platform Is a Must

It’s important to note that all mobile platforms are worthy of attention. Focusing on just the iPhone ignores huge sections of your market. Apps, games and videos must be developed for Androids and iPads, as well. And don’t forget about the Amazon Kindle, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. Fortunately, cross-platform mobile frameworks make it easier for developers to generate new versions of an app, so it functions properly across platforms.

When done well a smart mobile marketing strategy can be hugely successful, as demonstrated by the Oklahoma Lottery.

How One Organization Successfully Embraced Mobile

The Oklahoma Lottery recognized mobile marketing’s power to reach new markets. They launched a 30-day promotion, creating an exclusive Mobile VIP club. Participants had the chance to win $100 per day by texting in to join the club. Updates and winners were posted on the company Facebook page and mobile website.

At the end of the month-long contest, the Oklahoma Lottery had over 13,000 new, highly engaged fans. The very next day, they launched an iPhone app, and invited the Mobile VIP club members to download it. The result? 667 click-throughs from the text to the app on Day 1. By targeting their audience through their mobile devices, they amassed an entire community they can tap into to promote special events, drive sales and introduce new products.

With the enormous growth of mobile devices, mobile marketing strategies are a must for every business. As the Oklahoma Lottery’s effort shows, knowing how to create and execute a mobile marketing campaign can open up tremendous opportunities for your business.

Developing a Mobile Marketing Strategy is Essential

Mobile media marketing puts your brand right into the hands of your target audience. No one knows what the next mobile craze will be, but it’s clear that mobile devices are increasingly the consumer’s choice for staying in touch, finding information and making buying decisions. Savvy marketers will continue to stay on top of mobile marketing trends and deliver informative, usable content that their customers want—no matter where they are.

This guest post was provided by University Alliance and submitted on behalf of University of San Francisco.  USF offers online marketing courses including SEO training, search engine marketing, social media training, advanced mobile marketing training and more.  To learn more about University of San Francisco’s certificate programs visit www.usanfranonline.com.

References:

Mobile stats:

http://mashable.com/2012/02/16/mobile-commerce/

Social Media Stats:

http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/social-media-statistics-stats-2012-infographic/

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35 (of the) Best Guides to Facebook Marketing, Advertising, Search and More of 2010 (So Far)

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Facebook is an extraordinary phenomenon. Depending on the day, it’s either the #1 or #2 most-visited site on the web. It’s inspired a movie. It has half a billion adherents. And it’s become an imperative point of presence for businesses (or has it?).

Best Facebook Marketing Guides and Tips of 2010 (So Far)Whether you’re anxious to get started marketing on Facebook, already there but looking for better results, or not sure if Facebook is right for your company (despite the eye-popping audience numbers), you’ll find guidance here in some of the best posts on Facebook marketing so far in 2010: tips, tactics and best practices for building Facebook pages, growing your fan (or “like”) base, advertising, optimizing for search, using Facebook apps and tools, and more, from experts like Mari Smith, Lisa Barone, Ching Ya, John Haydon, Brian Carter, Marty Weintraub and Shel Holtz. Also included are a few posts from Facebook proponents, and skeptics, to help you determine if you even really need to be concerned with any of this — or if your social media marketing efforts might be best directed elsewhere.

Facebook Marketing Tips and Tactics

How to set up a Facebook fan page that works by Direct Creative Blog

Dean Rieck shares his top 10 tips for creating a managing a successful business Facebook page, from using FBML to create a landing page to promoting your page through email and your company blog.

How to Better Engage Facebook Fan Page ‘Fans’ by Social Media Examiner

As Mari Smith explains, “There are two primary components to Facebook fan page engagement: 1) Sharing quality, relevant content and 2) inciting comments. In this article I’ll tell you how to best engage with Facebook fans.”  Tactics include tying your post frequency to number of fans, creating an editorial calendar and varying the types of content posted.

Facebook Marketing Tips: Make the Most of Your Fan Page by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

Michelle Bowles offers five tips for “making the most of your fan page” such as keeping content fresh, encouraging interaction and offering discounts, promotions or information not available anywhere else.

How to Create a Campaign to Get More Facebook Followers by Proimpact7

Jan Petrovic presents a case study on how Lands’ End used a creative incentive campaign to draw 25,000 additional fans to its page.

5 Fantastic Facebook Fan Page Ideas to Learn From by OPEN Forum

Matt Silverman shares five examples of brands stretching the boundaries of Facebook to provide a unique experience including Baby Gap and Adidas.

10 Secrets of a Winning Facebook Fan Page by Palmer Web Marketing

Justin Palmer suggests 10 “must-do’s” for Facebook marketing success, like responding to every comment, strategically timing your updates and leveraging your fans to attract more fans.

10 Secrets To Creating Your Brand’s Facebook Presence by All Facebook

In another “10 secrets” post, Christopher Parr shares his tips for brand success on Facebook, such as talking like a friend (not a company), adding value through content, and doing some housekeeping (e.g. keeping your page free of “clutter, profanity, and MafiaWars spammy links”).

Creating Facebook Pages Customers Will Want To Join by Outspoken Media

Opening up with “most fan pages ARE vomit-inducing…but it doesn’t have to be that way!,” the prolific Lisa Barone details four ways to make your customers and prospects on Facebook feel like they are part of something — not just following a self-promoting brand.

9 Ways to Enhance Your Facebook Fan Page by Social Media Examiner

Noting that “Facebook fan pages number among the few social media channels that allow page customization for users,” Ching Ya shares nine great ideas for creating a unique and vibrant Facebook presence. An excellent “what to do” post though a bit light on the “how.”

10 Ways to Grow Your Facebook Page Following by Social Media Examiner

In the sequel to her post above, Ching Ya provides recommendations such as rewarding loyal supporters, leveraging your other social networks and integrating Facebook social plugins with your website in order to build a Facebook fan base.

10 Ways to Create a More Engaging Facebook Page by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

“The average user is connected to 60 pages, groups and events. This means that aside from all the other Facebook friend activity that goes on, your page is one of 60 trying to grab attention a fan’s attention.” How do you do it? This post offers 10 helpful ideas such as using a custom landing page, tagging fans in photos, using contests, and most importantly – persevering.

Facebook’s new functions (and how to leverage them) by iMedia Connection

Doug Akin previews six new features (as of May 2010) in Facebook that enable brands to expand the functionality and engagement potential of their Facebook pages. “If you only look at Facebook as a place to have a fan page, you are missing the greater offering and will likely be sitting on the sidelines when the future arrives.”

The Changing Face of Facebook Marketing – 5 Things you MUST Know by Social Media Today

Shama Hyder writes that “It seems like every day we wake up, Facebook has implemented a new policy or added a new dimension overnight.” Hell for companies and users, heaven for Facebook consultants. But given this environment, Shama outlines the “top five things you need to know about Facebook marketing” about fan pages, ecommerce, ads, apps and other subjects.

Facebook Tabs: What They Are & How to Use Them by ReadWriteWeb

In yet another post about keeping up with Facebook’s continual interface and function changes, Richard MacManus explains the difference between application tabs and boxes, why Facebook made this change, and how to effectively add and use tabs.

11 ways to promote your Facebook Page outside Facebook by John Haydon

Since, and John Haydon notes here, “Most likely, your current presence is much bigger outside of Facebook – especially if your Page is new,” you may want to take advantage of some of the ideas here to promote your Facebook presence elsewhere, such as adding your Facebook page link to your email template, answering webinar follow-up questions on your Facebook wall, and placing a LikeBox on your website.

13 Facebook Page features that will make your day by Socialbrite

***** 5 stars
It’s John Haydon again, this time in video form, answering 13 common yet vexing questions about Facebook like how to edit your thumbnail, how to set up a custom view for new visitors, and how to easily create a custom URL for your Facebook page.

4 Tips for B2B Marketing on Facebook by Mashable

While acknowledging that Facebook may have limited use in b2b marketing, Leyl Master Black nevertheless offers “tips for creating a powerful presence on Facebook that will engage a business audience” such as becoming an industry resource by sharing blog and webinar content, expanding beyond your wall using ecommerce or lead generation promotions, and “lightening up” through the use of humor, quizzes and polls.

Facebook Marketing: Ultimate Guide by SEOmoz

***** 5 stars
Tim Soulo has compiled a fantastic guide filled with best practices and tips for Facebook marketing success, starting with setting up the profile of your “brand ambassador” and progressing through your creating your avatar and adding applications, and ending with using other social media services to promote your presence on Facebook.

Facebook 101 for Business: Your Complete Guide by Social Media Examiner

***** 5 stars
Mari Smith ambitiously provides a “comprehensive guide to using Facebook” from setting up your profile (including Facebook’s mysterious and frequently-changing privacy settings) to making Friend lists to a six-step for building a Facebook business page.

Facebook Advertising

Pay Per Face: 52 Facebook Advertising Tips & Best Practices by Search Engine Journal

Brian Carter uses this post along with a white paper and video to share more than four dozen tips and best practices for Facebook advertising, which he describes as a combination of “AdWords’ copywriting and analytics with image-oriented linkbait.” Among his tips: use CPM bidding, change ads frequently, and “Always test multiple ads. Always. Always.”

10 Tips for Advertising on Facebook by PPC Hero

Christine Laubenstein recommends getting familiar with Facebook’s advertising guidelines, understanding the different ways to target users, and using Facebook’s bid estimator to help you set your bid before diving into advertising on Facebook.

Facebook SEO

How To Rank #1 In Facebook Search In 60 Seconds For Any Term by All Facebook

***** 5 stars
Dennis Yu provides an outstanding tutorial on how Facebook search works, what factors are most important, what to do (and what not to do) to rank highly in Facebook search, and what changes are likely coming to the search algorithm.

Facebook SEO Ranking Factors, 2010 Study Results by aimClear

Marty Weintraub explains, in exhaustive detail, the top ranking factors for “Suggest,” All Results, Pages, Groups, Apps and more. His aside on the Adult Filter in Facebook is NOT safe for work but is quite amusing in a completely inappropriate way.

Facebook Apps and Tools

15 Applications For A Better Facebook Fan Page by Interactive Online

Lucas Cobb lists his favorite tools for boosting the popularity of your brand’s Facebook presence including Static FBML, SlideShare, Reviews and Notes.

12 Applications to Make Your Facebook Page More Engaging by Social Media Today

Sarah Hartshorn recommends Twitter for Pages, Page Maps, Eventbrite and other apps to help “dress up your Page and make it more interesting and fun for your ‘likers’.”

How to Customize Your Facebook Page Using Static FBML by Social Media Examiner

***** 5 stars
As Nick Shin notes, “Maybe you’ve seen those really attractive Facebook pages and wondered, ‘How’d they do that?’” The answer is frequently Static FBML, a uniquely powerful and popular Twitter app, and in this helpful post, Nick walks through how to use it to achieve a variety of effects and accomplish different tasks.

How To Get Traffic from Facebook Social Plugins by Daily Blog Tips

Chris Webb explains how to use the Like Button (for blogs) and Like Box (for Facebook pages) to generate more Facebook traffic.

15 Simple Ways to Integrate Facebook into Your Website by appstorm

Contending that “There are umpteen number of ways to plug websites of any shape & kind into Facebook thereby nurturing a community, encouraging conversations, improving user engagement and increasing page views,” Justin Stravarius presents 15 such options including the Like Box, Echo, Fotobook and Facebook Connect Wizard.

Facebook Marketing Strategy

Ensuring A Successful Corporate Facebook Presence by MediaPost Online Media Daily

Aaron Strout presents what he terms the “four golden rules of creating a successful Facebook presence,” and supports these using Dunkin’ Donuts as an example of Facebook marketing success.

Six questions to ask before launching a Facebook fan page by a shel of my former self

The legendary Shel Holtz proposes half a dozen questions companies should ask before plunging into Facebook in order to avoid looking “lame and clueless to all but the least sophisticated Facebook users.”

Facebook Fans

Why You Can Say Facebook Is Worth $35 Billion With A Straight Face by Business Insider

Jay Yarow uses the theory of cognitive dissonance to explain why “Facebook pages are the best ads in social media.” Facebook pages are ranked against six other ad types such as banners, enewsletters and widgets based on their effects in driving recommendations and purchases.

Facebook Facts The Numbers Are Insane! by PRUnderground

500 million users, 3rd-largest “country” on earth, yeah we’ve all heard the numbers. But sometimes it helps to see them. Alex Miranda presents an infographic of Facebook facts, figures and myths.

Facebook Skeptics

Why Businesses Should Think Twice Before Investing Money or Time in a Facebook Page by Social Media Today

Given Facebook’s never ending stream of changes (many of which seem to break or eliminate earlier features) and ultimate control over all content on the site (no matter how much a business has invested in developing that content), Maggie McGary questions whether it’s really advisable for companies to rely too heavily on this platform.

Does Facebook Work? by iMedia Connection

Noting that “While 49% of marketers surveyed by MarketingSherpa think Facebook is very effective at brand awareness only 12% think it increases sales revenue,” Daniel Flamberg presents statistics and real-world results from leading brands suggesting that whatever the benefits of Facebook marketing, it generally isn’t producing “the kind of results the reach, usage and loyalty of Facebook would otherwise suggest.”

“Does Anything Other Than Facebook Really Matter?” by iMedia Connection

Taddy Hall does such an awesome job of chilling down Facebook fever with the cold water of reality that I’d like to just republish his entire post here, but will limit duplication of his brilliant content to this: “When it comes to how we (marketers) approach Social Media, I’m reminded of the drunk looking for his car keys beneath the street light because the light is better than in the dark alley where he last saw his keys. Sometimes doing what’s easy trumps common sense…Facebook is not just another broadcast media outlet where marketers can buy inventory and interrupt consumers. As P&G’s General Manager for Interactive Marketing and Innovation, Ted McConnell, remarked with characteristic flair, ‘what in heaven’s name made you think you could monetize the real estate in which somebody is breaking up with their girlfriend?'” Yes, Facebook works quite well for some companies (particularly large consumer brands), but it’s not always the ideal venue. Do your research (particularly for b2b marketing) and pursue audience quality over quantity.

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The Social Media ROI Debate

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Can the financial return on expenditures for social media business activities– in marketing, PR, customer support, HR, product development or other areas — be accurately measured? Can social media costs be justified on the P&L, so that as belts get ever tighter in this stagnant economy, these projects and tasks can be spared the budget axe?

Social Media ROI Debate? Not ExactlyAmong social media pundits, the debate rages on. The “yes” crowd argues that of course social media can be measured, and must be in order to demonstrate value to the business. You wouldn’t buy a new machine tool or enterprise software application without an ROI analysis, so why should social media be any different? Executives don’t care about shiny sparkly things or the latest fads or buzzwords; you’d better know what you want to accomplish, be able to quantify both expenses and revenue, and have the analytics in place to track results before even murmuring the words “social media” in the presence of C-level types.

The “no” group will counter that the metrics and tools haven’t yet matured, or that social media is too amorphous to even be measurable, or that it is rapidly becoming simply part of the plumbing or wiring of a modern organization, making ROI immaterial.

My own thoughts (for what they’re worth) on the matter are that:

  • • It’s challenging to measure the true ROI of social media activities with any precision because social media is as much (if not more) about influence than direct action. For example, if John Doe clicks through to your website from a tweet and buys something, that’s easy to measure. But if John Doe is influenced to buy from you based a tweet—but completes the purchase through another unrelated channel—there’s no way to assign the value of that sale to Twitter.
  • • That said, there are many aspects of social media that can and should be measured, both to show results and to help guide future activities (e.g. determining which topics generate the highest traffic and comment activity on a company blog, what time of day is most productive for tweeting, etc.). In other words, the statement “ROI is challenging to measure accurately” shouldn’t be confused with “don’t bother trying measure anything.”
  • • Metrics can be useful to help determine what to do more of, less of, or differently, but should not as the basis for whether or not to engage in social media. At this point, the adoption of social media tools is so widespread as to constitute just another communication channel. It makes no more sense for a business to shun social media until ROI can be demonstrated than it does to demand an ROI analysis for installing phone lines or email.

So much for my thoughts. What do other pundits have to say? Below are summaries of a variety of posts on the topic of social media ROI measurement from luminaries such as Danny Brown, Brian Solis, Erik Qualman, Michelle Golden and Sharlyn Lauby divided into their respective camps: yes, no, and maybe.

Is social media ROI measurable? Yes.

The Real Cost of Social Media by Danny Brown

This isn’t strictly speaking an ROI article, but Danny does dive into the “I” part of that measure, detailing the true costs (investment) of social media participation.

20 Metrics To Effectively Track Social Media Campaigns by Search Engine Land

Chris Bennett lays out the list of metrics he uses to analyze, track and “prove ROI’ from social media marketing. Compelling piece except for his use of the phrase social media campaign (argh).

Social Media ROI – How 3 B2B Technology Companies Are Achieving Revenue Results by MarCom Ink

Kim Cornwall Malseed summarizes the social media wisdom and ROI results gleaned from a panel of b2b marketing pros including Holger Schulze of SafeNet, Frank Strong of Vocus and Susan Cato of CompTIA. She reports on the revenue achieved, social media strategies used and measurement systems employed for tracking.

ROI: How to Measure Return on Investment in Social Media by Social Media Today

In this long but worthwhile post, Brian Solis reviews the evolution of social media measurement forms (e.g. “return on engagement”), the disconnect between social media marketers (most of whom can’t measure ROI) and CMOs (most of whom expect it), then offers his recommendations for improving the measurement of business objectives from social media.

Sexy Numbers: Measuring ROI in Social Media Campaigns by ReveNews

While acknowledging that tight precision is impossible because the same measures from different tools rarely match exactly (and multiple tools are still needed to end-to-end social media tracking), Angel Djambazov nevertheless makes a strong case for developing ROI metrics for social media campaigns. Quoting Brian Solis and others, Angel points out that particularly in this economy, even great ideas without a hard-number rationale are likely to get slashed; ROI measurements are needed because CMOs demand them. The post also includes some strategies, tactics and tools to assist in social media measurement.

Social Media Monitoring Techniques by WebFadds

Scott Frangos presents a concise but clear outline of basic social media ROI measurement objectives, tools and analytics.

Counterpoint: Why you can calculate an ROI in social media – and why you should do it by iMedia Connection

Uwe Hook responds to the post from Ben Cathers (in the “No” section below) on why social media ROI can’t be measured, laying out a roadmap using metrics such as frequency, yield, sentiment analysis, NetPromoter score and customer lifetime value.

Socialnomics: What Social Media Success Looks Like by Fuel Lines

Michael Gass shares a social media ROI argument in video format. “Socialnomics: Social Media ROI showcases what social media success looks like. Social Media ROI: Socialnomics is by Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business author Erik Qualman. This video highlights several Social Media ROI examples along with other effective Social Media Strategies.” Though a few of the examples are vague or misleading, most are compelling. However, after showcasing companies that have achieved remarkable, quantifiable results through social media, Qualman provocatively asks, “Why are we trying to measure social media like a traditional channel anyway? Social media touches every facet of business and more an extension of good business ethics…When I’m asked about the ROI of Social Media sometimes the appropriate response is…What’s the ROI of your phone?” He seems to suggest that while ROI is measurable, it’s immaterial. Hmm. You can find more of Eric’s insights on his Socialnomics blog.

Making sense of social-media ROI with Olivier Blanchard by SmartBlog on Social Media

Rob Birgfeld talks with Olivier Blanchard, introduced as “perhaps the most sought-after expert for those looking to connect the dots between social media and return-on-investment.” Perhaps. Blanchard contends that most self-proclaimed social media “experts” have difficulty articulating ROI because they have no business management background (agreed, I’ve seen these types — which is why our agency has an MBA who helps clients with social media). With that background, he argues that “the question can be answered in about three minutes. All it takes is someone on the social-media side of the table who understands how to plug new communications into a business from the C-suite’s perspective.” He also makes the case that being able to prove social media ROI is essential. The post just doesn’t specify how to do this.

Social Media ROI — No.

Social media (finally) returns value by The Communicator

Peter Schram doesn’t come right out and say that social media ROI can’t be measured, but rather that organizations should “focus on five key areas where social media will create actual value” that aren’t strictly about sales ROI, including corporate reputation, employee engagement and customer service.

“What’s the ROI of Social Media?” Is the Wrong Question by Golden Practices Blog

Michelle Golden makes a compelling argument that ROI calculations apply only to discrete projects with a beginning, middle and end, such as a direct mail campaign. Social media is a tool, not an event, so such calculations don’t apply.

5 Problems With Measuring Social Marketing by Web Worker Daily

Aliza Sherman articulates some of the frustrations with any social media measurement, much less something as precise as ROI, including the fact that the term “social media” is nebulous and that many traditional marketing concepts (e.g., “reach,” “promotions” and “campaigns”) simply don’t apply to social media –and the industry hasn’t yet developed widely accepted new measures (though Daniel Flamberg attempted to answer this last challenge in 4 Social Media Mining Metrics).

Why you can’t calculate an ROI in social media – and that’s okay by iMedia Connection

Ben Cathers argues that, because the advanced analytics tools that would be required for such measurement have not yet been developed, “In many forms of digital media, you can spend 1 dollar knowing you will earn 1.30…Unfortunately, you cannot do the same in social media, just yet.” He suggests instead that marketers estimate the payback on social media by assigning a value to metrics they can track, such as each follower, each retweet, each “like” of an item, etc.

CEOs Love Pie: The B2B Social Media Case Study, Part 2 by iMedia Connection

In this follow-up post to Conversations that Aren’t about Mel Gibson: the B2B Social Media Case Study, Part 1, Eric Anderson writes that “today you can’t throw a virtual rock without hitting five blog posts about how we all need to simmer down about ROI,” and places himself firmly in the “simmer down” camp. He recommends instead serving them pie, as in pie charts showing measures like “the proportion of their paid impressions that can be replaced or augmented with free impressions. PR agencies have long been selling the value of this pie as earned media or ‘ad equivalency value,’ so CEOs are used to seeing it. They get it. Once you’ve done your social media market analysis, it’s relatively easy to project how big that social media pie wedge will be.”

Social Media ROI…Maybe.

Quantifying Social Results by eMarketer

eMarketer reports that while marketing pros generally agree that quantifying the benefit of social media marketing is important, they are split on whether it is possible. Measuring certain types of activity or behavior is easy; translating those measures into ROI, not so much. As this article notes, “There is a leap, however, between finding appropriate metrics and monitoring them on the one hand, and quantifying results on the other. Marketers must tie the social metrics they settle on directly to business goals, such as increased sales and leads, before social media return on investment can be quantified.”

A call for more accountable social media marketing by iMedia Connection

After acknowledging that “ROI is difficult, if not impossible, to measure with social media. An astounding majority of professionals do not even try to take it into account.  According to a survey late last year from Bazaarvoice and the CMO Club, 72 percent of CMOs did not attach revenue assumptions to social media in 2009,” Jerry McLaughlin goes on to say that marketers must do it anyway. For example, one of his recommendations is to “reach specific social media goals with a tangible ROI, such as tracked discounts or coupons.” While that’s certainly not a bad suggestion, it covers only one very limited aspect of what social media marketing can do.

5 Ways To Set Goals & Measure Social Media Marketing Success by Smart Insights

Danyl Bosomworth summarizes a Jason Falls presentation on various ways to measure social media outcomes. While the post seems to suggest that measuring ROI is easy (measurement #5 casually includes “generation of sales and leads from blog visitors and from social interactions”), it also points out several other benefits that unquestionably have value (e.g., product innovation, branding and awareness, links for SEO benefit), though that value may be difficult to quantify. The message seems to be that if you can directly measure sales and leads then by all means do so, but recognize that social media can provide many other important though less quantifiable rewards.

Marketers Use Varying ROI for Social Media by Marketing Charts

According to a new study from King Fish Media, Hubspot and Junta 42 summarized in this post, most marketers perform some type of social media measurement (e.g., website visits from social media referral sites, new fans/followers, number of links shared, etc.). However, nearly half (43%) admit that they aren’t even trying to measure ROI. And only 29% say “they will have to show positive ROI to continue their social media programs.”

How CEOs are Using Social Media for Real Results by Mashable

Though Sharlyn Lauby shares numbers here from two CEOs able to correlate hard sales data with their social media efforts, she also points out that “even when there might not be data supporting a direct relationship between social media activity and sales, sometimes other metrics point to the connection” such as exposure, branding, customer satisfaction, recommendations, even employee recruiting. The conclusion seems to be that ROI may or may not be measurable, depending on a company’s specific circumstances — or at least that not all of the benefits of social media can be captured in precise sales and ROI figures.

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78 (of the) Best Social Media Marketing Tips, Guides, Tools and Strategies of 2010 (So Far)

Monday, August 16th, 2010

With the amount of helpful content about social media marketing growing faster than Facebook’s user base or Lindsay Lohan’s court appearances, it’s tough to keep up. Here’s a modest contribution to help with that effort; more than six dozen of the best, most bookmark-able articles and blog posts about social media tactics, tools and strategies written so far this year, by leading writers like John Jantsch, Lori Dicker, Lee Odden, Lisa Barone, Jay Baer and many more.

Social Media Marketing Tips, Tactics and Guides

Best Social Media Tips and Tools of 2010 (So Far)Building Social Bookmarking Networks 101 by Search Engine Journal

Todd Heim supplies a helpful guide to best practices for building a following on and generating traffic from social bookmarking sites like Digg, Reddit, Mixx and Propeller. Todd’s guidance is straightforward and practical; finding the time to do this well is the hard part.

HOW TO: Create Custom Backgrounds for Twitter, YouTube, & MySpace by Mashable

Matt Silverman steps through the process of creating cool custom backgrounds for popular social media sites, with easy-to-follow instructions and rich example illustrations.

What is Social Media Optimization and Why Should I Care? by Kuno Creative

For those who know little if anything about social media (there are more such people than you may realize; some in rather lofty positions at that), John McTigue offers an excellent primer covering the most popular tools, sites and strategies.

30 Tips: The Productivity Guide of Social Media by WebStudio 13

Andrew Ran Wong provides a valuable list of productivity tips for Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Google and other social networks to help readers get more done in less time.

5 Ways That Sales People Can Benefit From Using Social Media by OPEN Forum

Despite the widespread use of the phrase “social media marketing,” marketing is not the only business use of social media, as John Jantsch reminds us. Here he outlines five ways that sales can use these tools as well, from social CRM to teaching prospects how to solve business issues.

6 tips for connecting with social media content by iMedia Connection

Noting that “Smart and savvy companies have positioned themselves as authoritative experts and trusted sources of information by creating their own content,” Gordon Plutsky outlines a six-step process for consistently connecting with prospects through relevant, compelling content.

10 Principles for B2B Sales by Better Closer

Social media has dramatically altered the buying process as well as marketing practices. In this post, Bill Rice provides sales people with 10 principles for using social media in sales, from setting objectives and listening to creativity and tools to improve social media efficiency. Given the importance of sales-marketing alignment, this is a worthwhile read for marketers as well.

Are you reaching your Best Customers through social media? by Cultivating Your Customers

Mark Price summarizes a Fast Company case study on how restaurant chain Houlihan’s engaged their best customers through some exclusive social media programs to increase sales and profits, and what other social media marketers can learn from the chain’s experience.

A Cheat Sheet to Help You Conquer Social Media by Fast Company

Not sure how to navigate through various social media sites? Addy Dugdale shares this handy CMO guide to the social landscape, which “takes all the major social media sites in the U.S. and analyzes their capabilities in four sectors: customer communication, brand exposure, driving traffic to your site, and SEOs.”

5 Ways to Use Social Media for Things You Are Already Doing by Social Media Today

Possibly inspired by Social Media is Simpler Than You Think, John Jantsch explores five ways to use social media for common business tasks such as prospect follow-up and market research.

10 Essential Social Media Tips for B2B Marketers by Mashable

Christina Warren tells b2b marketers how to use Twitter effectively, find their “social voice,” efficiently monitor industry developments through social media, expand their influence and more in this excellent post.

How to Monitor Your Social Media Presence in 10 Minutes a Day by HubSpot Blog

Rebecca Corliss reveals an easy five-step, 10-minute daily process for keeping on eye on what’s being said about your company across popular social media venues. Depending on how active your company is in social media, it may take a bit more than 10 minutes and may have to be done more than once per day, but at a minimum this is a great place to start.

10 Tips for Using Social Bookmarking Sites Effectively by Online Social Networking

Larry Brauner shows how to use a “very social and spam-free strategy” to dramatically increase website traffic from social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon and Amplify.

8 brand personalities Facebook and Twitter users hate by iMedia Connection

If you want to be a success in social media, then you definitely don’t want to be part of any of these groups. Kevin Barenblat presentes a taxonomy of social media failure types, including “canned responders,” spammers, lurkers and serial re-tweeters.

More than 50 bookmarks of Social Media Case Studies by Social Media Tactics You Can Trust

Michiel Gaasterland shares his collected list of 500+ case studies, from small businesses to global brands around the globe.

5 Workarounds In Avoiding Social Media Fluster by Social Media Philippines

The always fascinating Rob Angeles how to ramp up a social marketing quickly without simply “jumping in” with no plan.

6 Reasons You’re Not Rocking Social Media by Small Business Trends

For those whose social media marketing programs aren’t quite meeting expectations, Lisa Barone offers several possible reasons (and advice on how to fix things), such as having poor content, putting the wrong people in charge or simply not listening.

10 signs it’s time for a social media makeover by iMedia Connection

Following on the theme of Lisa’s post above, Lori Dicker offers a collection of indicators that your social media marketing has gone astray such as “An intern handles all your social media efforts” and “Your company does not have a (written) social media policy” and how to place efforts on the right track.

3 Simple Steps for Creating Social Media Visibility by Social Media Examiner

For those still struggling with where to start in social media, Denise Wakeman lays out “a three-step formula to get you started creating a visible presence on the web, resulting in more opportunities for your business: leads, prospects, sales, media queries, speaking gigs and joint ventures.”

Taking the First Steps in Social Marketing by iMedia Connection

Contending that “finding exactly which of your customers and prospects are on which social networks and who are the most socially connected, is the first step to figuring out if and how to integrate social media into your marketing mix,” Gary Halliwell illustrates how to tie your CRM data to social media marketing efforts, and why this is crucial to creating value for your company through social media.

Five Rules for Responsible Social Marketing by Fast Company

Just as etiquette is what separates us from the beasts (well, that plus some DNA), so social media etiquette often separates the successful from the spammy, the engaging from the enraging, the outgoing from the obnoxious. David Lavenda supplies five rules here (such as “Respect people’s privacy online, even if you don’t have to”) to help you stay on the positive side of those word pairs.

10 Ways to Cut Through the Social Media Noise and Be Heard by Social Media Examiner

Chris Garrett advises marketers to simplify their messages, use appropriate channels and appeal to ego among other recommendations to make their social media content more likely to get noticed.

The “No Duhs” of Social Media by Social Media Bits

Sharon Lane lays out the basic elements for social media success, such as knowing your audience, being authentic and being patient. Good post for newbies as well as those at the “a little knowledge is dangerous” phase.

90+ Essential Social Media Resources by Mashable

A collection of short summaries and links to a huge list of posts about Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, mobile marketing and business development. It’s sort of like this post, except that all of the links are to other Mashable articles. Hmm. Guess Webbiquity is a bit less about ego and more about sharing the love.

16 Lessons on Using Social Media for Business by Social Media Today

Adrian Swinscoe shares an excellent collection of social media do’s and don’ts such as defining your goals to keep yourself on track, great content is crucial, and perhaps most importantly, “It takes time, persistence, consistency and commitment to generate results.”

The 7 Secrets of Social Media Conversion [INFOGRAPHIC] by The Unbounce Blog

*****5 stars
Oli Gardner reveals key tactics for converting social media followers into buyers, from using a landing page with a clear call to action and offering “social proof” through badges and widgets to optimizing post-conversion opportunities.

4 Social Media Mining Metrics by iMedia Connection

Daniel Flamberg proposes four key metrics that can give marketers “actionable intelligence to identify competitive strengths or vulnerabilities, shape messages, identify informal opinion leaders and influencers or suggest the best choice of media channels” along with suggested tools to track those measures.

4 Ways to Measure Social Media and Its Impact on Your Brand by Social Media Examiner

On the same theme as Daniel’s post above, Nichole Kelly her shares her four key social media metrics and shows how these fit within the sales conversion funnel.

25 Characteristics of Highly Effective Social Media Campaigns by Social Media Today

What sets successful social media marketing programs apart from the failures? Lots of things, and Sosthenes Boame helpfully lists 25 factors such as providing value, being “not spammy,” building trust, consistency, and incorporating visual images.

12 Social Media Marketing Myths by Roxana Portalatin

Social media is cheap or free. It’s a fad. It’s for kids. This post demolishes these and other common social media myths.

Top 10 Social Media “Power Friending” Tips by OPEN Forum

Amber MacArthur condenses her book Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Grow Your Business into these 10 key tips to grow your social media presence and influence, such as acting authentically, telling stories and listening well.

Top 6 Social Media Mistakes And How to Fix Them by Social Media Examiner

Kristi Hines details half a dozen social media mistakes to avoid (or correct) including having the wrong connections, sending the wrong messages, and restricting your activities to “things that can be measured for return on investment.” She also lists “using social media profiles for link building” as a mistake, though there are situations in which this makes sense; you may want to grab a profile on a lesser-known social media site for purposes of reputation management or brand protection. Even if there isn’t enough relevant traffic on that site to make a large effort in network-building and interaction worthwhile, any links you include in your profile still have value.

50 Tips Granny Never Told You about Twitter & Social Media Etiquette by Social Media Today

Noting that “social media is no different than the social circles that existed in the 20?s, 50?s, 70?s and even 80 ‘s. Yes, the same rules apply. Just executed on a different platform and at a higher volume,” Pam Moore passes along 50 social media etiquette tips from Great Granny Walton. Among these nuggets of fold wisdom: “Be a friend to get a friend,” “Plan yer work and work yer plan” and “It is just darn right rude to auto DM when Tweeters follow ya’!”

Social Media Tools

Social media tools that marketers shouldn’t miss by iMedia Connection

Lori Dicker presents an outstanding list of free and fee-based tools for social media monitoring, measuring and messaging.

Managing Your Reputation Online: 5 Essential Tools by CIO Magazine

Kristin Burnham reviews five excellent tools for monitoring your online reputation, including Addict-o-matic, SocialMention, and the impressively comprehensive Yasni.

Where To Find Social Media Power Users by Search Engine Land

Want your story on the front page of a popular social media site? You need help from the power users in that community. Greg Finn introduces a dozen tools and pages to help identify the most influential users to connect with on various social sites including Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon and Twitter.

Top 10 Free Social Media Tracking Tools by ineedhits

Rene LeMerle provides mini-reviews of his favorite free monitoring tools, from the obvious (Google Alerts, Social Mention) to the less familiar (Boardreader, Samepoint).

Social Media Glossary by Social Media for the Socially Awkward

Social media jargon can be confusing for newbies, and even seasoned pros occasionally run across unfamiliar terms. To help out, Sean Horrigan has compiled this glossary of social media terms from aggregator, blogs and crowdsourcing to thumbstream, widget and wikis.

The Ultimate Glossary: 101 Social Media Marketing Terms Explained by HubSpot Blog

Speaking of social media glossaries, Kipp Bodnar provides a more extensive list of terms and definitions here.

11 Free Tools for Social Media Optimization by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

The ever-modest Lee Odden reviews tools to help spot trends, research keywords and analyze social media activity to help improve “visibility on standard, social and real-time search.”

8 Social Media Monitoring Tools by Onflow Interactive

A quick list of eight leading monitoring tools, from Alterian and Radian6 to UberVU and Sysomos.

Google: the killer social media monitoring platform by Social Media Today

Trevor Jonas explains how Google’s various tools — from Google News and blog search to Google Reader and Analytics — combined create a powerful and free social media monitoring platform, and how these would enable Google to “absolutely blow away any of the existing monitoring services tomorrow if it wanted to.”

10 Essential Social Media Tools for B2B Marketers by Mashable

Christina Warren reviews 10 tools on her list of social media favorites, including some surprises. Note: most are fee-based, but worth the cost for midsized to large enterprises active in social media marketing.

10 Free Social Media Tools Every PR Pro Should Master In 2010 by the COMMS corner

An alternative list from Adam Vincenzini of 10 key social media tools for those prefer free to fee.

7 Social Media Aggregation Tools To Simplify Your Streams by Social Media Today

Sarah Hartshorn details her favorite aggregation tools — like Hootsuite, Netvibes and Flock — for more efficiently monitoring and managing an organization’s social media presence and activities.

The 39 Social Media Tools I’ll Use Today by Convince & Convert

***** 5 stars
Jay Baer reviews his favorite tools, organized by category: Twitter-related, Facebook-related, Virality & Search, Photos, Tracking, Content Creation, Listening, Email and iPhone. This collection is comprehensive without (quite) being overwhelming.

Master List – A Wiki of Social Media Monitoring Solutions

***** 5 stars
Some day in the future, when social media is a mature marketing channel, there will likely be only a handful of high-quality, comprenhensive monitoring tools on the market for marketers to choose from. Today, however, social media monitoring tools are still in their wild west phase: there are a large number, of varying quality, each of which does something or a few things very well, but none of which are yet the “Holy Grail” of monitoring. Ken Burbary has done a masterful job of compiling this list, currently at 145 social media monitoring alternatives. The list is likely to grow before it consolidates.

195 Social Media Measurement Tools & Technologies by Sales Rescue Team

Yet another huge list of social media monitoring tools.

Social Media Employee Policy Examples from Over 100 Companies and Organizations by Social Media Today

In an organization of any size, you’ll have multiple people using social media sites. In large organizations, this can be hundreds or thousands of employees. While management can’t, and shouldn’t seek to, tightly control all such interactions, it is imperative to have basic guidelines in place. That’s where a social media policy comes in, and if you’re not sure how to write one or what to include, check out this extensive set of examples.

57 Social Media Policy Examples and Resources by Social Media Today

More corporate social media policy examples, this list from Dave Fleet.

11 Free Services for Scheduling Social Media Updates by Mashable

Social media monitoring and interaction activity can be tough to maintain. So Erica Swallow helpfully provides “a list of 11 free services for scheduling social media updates, either across multiple social platforms or just for Twitter. At the end of the list, you’ll also find a quick note on 11 paid services that you may be interested in investigating, as well.”

Social Media Marketing Strategy

Social Marketing Strategies by Brand Nexus

A fact- and statistic-rich SlideShare presentation covering social media reach, growth, demographics, consumer and b2b buyer behavior on social networks, spending levels by industry and strategies for success.

4 ways social media can save you time and money by iMedia Connection

Noting that social media be used for various business purposes (marketing, PR, market research, customer service), Larry Weintraub cuts to the chase with practical guidance, writing “ultimately you want to do one thing: sell more products or services. Let’s take a look at how each of these  four components of your social media strategy can help you sell more.”

Razorfish: Social Influence Marketing Trends by Digital Buzz Blog

Another social media SlideShare presentation, this one focused around trends and rich with both useful guidance and examples from brands that have achieved social media success. It also includes a helpful section on metrics, introducing the SIM score.

Is Social Media Just Another Channel? The Potential of Social Media for B2B Markets by The Social CMO Blog

Alex Romanovich contends that social media is far more than just another marketing channel; it is phenomena that is “forcing corporations (brands) to look at how they engage with their clients, how they use information, and how they respond to events…the benefits and opportunities it presents are something we’ve never seen before. It is becoming the connecting thread that links all points of the Value Chain.”

10 Awesome Social Media Presentations by thought leaders of the Industry by Daily Bloggr

Got some time? Here’s a nice collection of 10 exceptional social media SlideShare and YouTube presentations, including “Web 3.0 – This time its personal,” “Content Strategy for Social Media” and “How to make the best use of SEO and Social Media.”

Social Media History Animation by Hai Le

Interesting video filled with trivia and statistics on the growth and current state of social media, such as that there were 90 trillion email messages sent last year (though roughly 80% were spam), Facebook serves six million pageviews per minute (is that possible?) and that YouTube serves one billion videos per day.

Social Media-Integration-Theory-Model by Israel Garcia’s No-Blog

Israel Garcia offers a compact model of how social media has changed the historical pattern of corporate and marketing communications, and how to capitalize on that trends. He also makes a compelling case for doing so, pointing out research showing that “consumers are 67% more likely to buy from the brands they follow on Twitter, and 51% more likely to buy from a brand they follow on Facebook.”

Why we need to kill “social media” by iMedia Connection

Rob Key argues that the term “social media” needs to be killed because (almost) all media is becoming social, and it isn’t the tools or buzzwords that really matter in business so much as what social media can do in areas like risk management, media relations, product life cycle management, customer care, HR, market research, and innovation.

11 Killer Social Media Presentations Worth Watching by HubSpot Blog

Kipp Bodnar showcases 11 outstanding social media presentations from experts like Rohit Bhargava, Marta Kagan, Christina “CK” Kerley and Jay Baer.

9 Ways To Convince The CEO To Use Social Media and Enter The 21st Century by jeffbullas.com

Jeff Bullas offers several suggestions for selling social media to executives. #1, “scare them” is tempting but perhaps not the ideal approach, while #5 (use website grading as a baseline measurement) has real potential. #4 (buy them a book) works well if [italics] you have the kind of boss who actually reads books.

What Can Social Media Do to Improve Your Business by My Venture Pad

Writing that “the intention for gathering (social media) data should NEVER be for spamming but to help integrate your value proposition into what people are truly interested in,” Eric Tsai lays out a framework for gathering data, analyzing it, and using it to make decisions and modify activities so that you can ultimately do “more of what works and less of what doesn’t.”

Social Media Strategy from A to Z by Techipedia

***** 5 stars
Tamar Weinberg has written one of the most thoughtful and creative blog posts of the year, explaing social media strategy through the alphabet from “always be listening” to “zealous” (and yes, she even includes entries for the letters q and x). Simply brilliant, a must read.

Social Media needs a (GASP!) budget by iMedia Connection

Uwe Hook helpfully makes the case that “Social Media is not free. Social Media is not cheap. Social Media requires a considerable of time and resources to make it work.” A toe-in-the-water approach doesn’t work with social media; it requires a commitment and a sustained investment, because while the payback can be considerable, it won’t happen overnight.

B2B Social Media Strategy: 5 Steps to Gaining Executive Buy-in by B2B Bloggers

Michael Brenner provides an outstanding guide to getting executive buy-in for social media marketing, beginning with showing them the numbers behind the new reality and progressing through resources to help you answer the (inevitable) hard questions and developing a social media roadmap.

We Can’t ‘King Canute’ the Social Media Tide by iMedia Connection

Gary Halliwell writes that “there are only three things standing in the way (of social media marketing success). The bad news is these are potentially tricky issues if not addressed correctly.”

12 Reasons to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business by My Venture Pad

***** 5 stars
“Why exactly should we do this social media stuff?” Rather than fumbling to articulate a brilliant answer when you get that question from an executive or client, refer to this outstanding post from Pam Dyer, packed with ammunition like increasing brand recognition, improving SEO, taking your message directly to buyers, and making it clear that you “get it” (at this stage, as Pam notes, “If you don’t have a presence, you appear as if you’re not very savvy.”).

Is a social media bubble ready to burst? by iMedia Connection

If the boss or client remains a skeptic even after following Pam’s guidance above, you may need to pull out this post. “Aha!” your skeptical counterpart will say, “I knew it! Social media is just a fad.” Actually, it’s not that simply, and you may be surprised by the conclusions Michael Estrin draws in this insightful post.

Is Social Media a Big Joke? by The Confident Copywriter

First a bubble, then a joke? Is this more fodder for social media skeptics? Not quite, but Victoria Ipri offers a helpful reminder here to avoid jargon — both when selling social media and when using it. In her words, “simple, to the point, interesting, thought-provoking, but not especially flowery or verbose” messages are key in both situations.

9 Things to do Before Entering Social Media by Small Business Trends

***** 5 stars
In another outstanding post from Lisa Barone, learn what it’s crucial to do before getting immersed in social media marketing. Just as a strong foundation is critical to the long-term stability of a home or building, so steps like crafting a social media policy or rulebook, assigning responsibilities, and making a commitment to responding are vital to social media success.

Three ways to act on your social media monitoring by Fresh Networks

Once you’ve decided on a set of metrics to monitor and tools to use (see the section above), now what? Matt Rhodes notes that “What you do with your social media monitoring is as important, if not more important, than getting the monitoring in place in the first place. Different brands will want to engage with the conversations they discover online in different ways,” and suggests three actionable areas based on monitoring results.

Defining your social media goals by iMedia Connection

Ben Cathers provides guidance on the different approach and metrics to use depending on whether the primary focus of your social media efforts is for customer service or customer acquisition.

5 reasons why brands fail with social media by Engage Sciences

Whether you’re already engaged in social media marketing and not seeing the results hoped for, or you’re just getting started and want to avoid common pitfalls, this post will help you avoid strategic mistakes (such as treaing social media as a silo) and steer your efforts in the right direction.

Conversations that Aren’t about Mel Gibson: the B2B Social Media Case Study, Part 1 by iMedia Connection

Eric Anderson eloquently makes the case for b2b use of social media marketing. “B2B sales tend to be complex and consultative, after all, and where do B2B buyers go for consultation? A surprising number start with simple Google searches, and those Google searches increasingly lead to, yep, industry blogs and forums.”

Why Executives HATE Social Media by The Deming Hill Blog

***** 5 stars
A long but brilliant post on the executive view of social media, starting with, as the title indicates, some of the reasons C-level people hate social media including “don’t feed me another fad” and “eagles don’t flock.” Midway through, however, the tone changes as the author writes “Maybe I don’t HATE social media after all.  Maybe I just hate the Quixotic context in which most social media conversations exist, featuring a perpetually moving target, combined with an obsessive, cult-like worship of the default worldview,” then proceeds to detail five of the top benefits of social media from the executive perspective.

How To Create A Killer Social Media Strategy by The Business Insider War Room

Alyson Shontell quotes Nicole Melander, PhD, who teaches American University’s MBA course on social media for business, saying “At this point companies don’t have a choice (about participating in social media). They have to play in the arena somehow. The conversation is happening, it’s just a matter of how much a company chooses to participate.” Melander then presents a five-step guide to creating a business social media strategy.

25 “P”s of Social and New Media Marketing by Social Media Today

Expanding upon the traditional five “P’s” of marketing (product, price, place, promotion and people), Ky Ekinci proposes 25 P’s for social media marketing such as promote (carefully), play, protect, plan, and perhaps most importantly — persist.

Trends with Traction: Meaningful “social” measurement with Net Promoter Score by iMedia Connection

Adam Kleinberg extols the virtues of the Net Promoter score, introduced by Frederick Recihheld in his book The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth. He makes the case that this metric is one of the most vital, meaningful and valuable ways to measure the impact of social media marketing activities.

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How to Launch a Successful Blog in 12 Weeks: Lessons from Webbiquity

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

One of the primary reasons most blogs are abandoned is that it takes time to build an audience. It’s demotivating to spend hour upon hour crafting sparkling prose that reveals your most profound industry insights and most valuable guidance, only to see that after weeks of effort, your blog is attracting only a handful of readers per day. How can you avoid that fate and build an audience more quickly?

It can be done. the graph below compares the last three months of traffic on the WebMarketCentral blog, which after four and a half years had built up a sizable and consistent following, to the first three months after launch of the Webbiquity blog. As the graph shows, it took just 12 weeks for traffic to Webbiquity to surpass the traffic level of a far more established blog.

Blog Traffic After Launch - Webbiquity vs. WMC

Blog Traffic After Launch - Webbiquity vs. WMC

Granted, in the case of Webbiquity, it helped to have an established blog to link from. But even absent that advantage, traffic to a new blog can be ramped up quickly using the following 12 techniques.

1. Build links to your blog from every possible source. Link to the new blog from your website, Facebook page, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, other social networking and social bookmarking profiles, comments you leave on other blogs—anywhere you can create a link. Add your blog name and link to company email signatures and include it in your corporate newsletter or marketing emails as well.

2. Publicize the blog through offline channels. Include the URL on business cards, brochures, your corporate PowerPoint template, trade show booth signage, etc.

3. Use Twitter. Twitter is the fourth-highest source of traffic to Webbiquity, just behind Google. Of course it helps to have a sizable Twitter following, but the quality of your followers is much more important than the quantity. A few influential followers (with significant followings of their own) who will retweet your blog post links are far more valuable than a boatload of spammy followers who probably never visit your blog in the first place. Blogging and Twittering work together synergystically; writing quality blog content, then tweeting about it, can help increase both your relevant Twitter following and blog readership.

4. SEO the blog. Write compelling, relevant (i.e., don’t try to be too clever) headlines. Include post tags and properly categorize each post. Use keyword-rich post URLS, not meaningless page names like “id=98″. In WordPress, you can set this in Settings…Permalinks. Finally, include relevant page titles, a compelling description, and keywords with each post. For WordPress blogs, two of the best SEO plugins are All In One SEO Pack and Platinum SEO.

5. Promote your blog posts to your relevant LinkedIn groups. If you haven’t already done so, find and join LinkedIn groups relevant to your industry, groups that key influencers, potential business partners, and most importantly your sales prospects are likely to be members of. Link to your posts as either discussion items (for posts that ask questions, solicit reader feedback, or address controversial industry issues) or news items (for posts that are more straight reporting of research or how-to type content.)

6. Create “linkable” content. Links can generate direct visits and they are critical for SEO. The best way to obtain links is to attract them naturally, by writing link-worthy content. A variety of content can qualify, including posts that report new information, explain how to solve a problem, take a controversial stand, or make people laugh. A SWOT analysis is one helpful tool to develop killer topics for blog posts.

7. Write guest posts for popular blogs. A great way to reach a new audience, spread your company’s fame and promote your own blog is to write an attention-getting piece for an established industry blog. It helps (greatly) if you already have a relationship with the blogger, but even if you don’t, most bloggers are far more open to offers of a guest post than they are to PR pitches. Politely contact the blog owner, offer to write a guest post on a pertinent topic for the blog, and ask what the requirements are. When using guest-posting as a strategy, it’s best to start with relatively small blogs and work your way up the food chain. An offer to guest post will have far more credibility if you can point to other posts you’ve already written. If you’ve never had a guest post published, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll get your writing to appear on an A-list blog like TechCrunch or Mashable, but—as evidenced by the fact that both do publish guest posts—it is possible to work one’s way up to that level.

8. Use social bookmarking. Social bookmarking sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, Mixx and Propeller can help drive traffic and provide links, though some sites including the first three in this list use the insidious nofollow tag, which means the links won’t help with SEO. It’s perfectly acceptable to link to your own content, as long as you don’t promote your own stuff exclusively. And if someone else bookmarks your content—vote it up!

9. Add your blog and feed links to blog directories and RSS syndication sites. These links can help drive direct traffic, increase your blog’s subscribers, and improve the position of your blog in search. Helpful, though slightly out-of-date lists of blog directories and RSS sites can be found on the TopRank blog and Robin Good’s site.

10. Link to other bloggers. The golden rule as applied to blogging would be: link unto others as you would have them link unto you. Almost every blogger appreciates links (it’s high praise that you find their content worth linking to) and many will return the favor in some way; by linking back to you, Tweeting up your blog post, social bookmarking it, etc. Linking to other blogs accomplishes at least three things: it’s social (and therefore may lead to a link back), it’s helpful to your readers (by pointing them to more information on a specific topic), and it demonstrates confidence.

11. Submit your blog to AllTop. This is very popular blog directory. It won’t necessarily drive a lot of direct traffic, but it helps, and you never know—Guy Kawasaki may end up retweeting one of your posts and giving you a huge spike in visits.

12. Add alt tags to images and use SEO-friendly file names. Google’s image search can drive a surprising amount of traffic. To optimize the images in your posts, use appropriate alt tags and descriptive file names (e.g., a photo of a polar bear should be named something like polar-bear.jpg, not image01243.jpg). Proper alt image tags also help with SEO of the post itself.

The first requirement of a successful blog launch is to create quality content and publish on a regular basis; weekly at a minimum, more frequently if possible. The second requirement is patience—being willing to stick with it even if your traffic doesn’t skyrocket immediately. There’s no way around that first requirement, but you’ll need less of the second if you utilize all of the avenues above to help your blog quickly build a respectable following.

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