Posts Tagged ‘Zach Bulygo’

31 Spectacular Web Design Guides, Techniques and Resources

Monday, June 17th, 2013

Paradoxically, in the early days of websites, when there were few standards to adhere to, most business websites were laid out with pretty much the same template: grid layout, logo in the upper left, content in the middle or left frame, “highlights” in the right sidebar. And being edgy meant using a slightly different shade of blue as the dominant color. A few adventurous souls did some creative things with Flash, but even then, few people saw these sites because they were invisible to search engines.

Today, most sites use CSS rather than tables, avoid the use of deprecated tags, and adhere to W3C standards, and yet—the variety and creativity of website design is greater than ever.

How can you design a website that stands out visually from the crowd yet meets users’ needs? Maximizes social engagement? Optimizes trust and conversions? Looks as good on a smartphone as on a monster monitor? Find out here in more than 30 of the best articles and blog posts on website design of the past year.

General Website Design Guides

13 Website Social Optimization Oversights That Make You Look Foolish by Search Engine Watch

Angie SchottmillerThe positively awesome Angie Schottmuller identifies a baker’s dozen barriers to social media engagement on your website, such as requiring account creation or sign-in in order to comment (“Ease up on the form lock down. Allow users to rate and comment without creating an account…Forgotten passwords are a huge barrier to on-going engagement, so leverage OpenID and social sign-on tools to simplify the comment interaction process”).

Why “Infographic Thinking” Is The Future, Not A Fad by Fast Company

John PavlusJohn Pavlus reports that Francesco Franchi is bullish on the potential of infographics—but only if done well. In this video, the art director at one of Italy’s top financial news outlets says that content needs to come first, that infographics shouldn’t be like PowerPoint presentations, and that they don’t need to be one-dimensional.

10 ways to make your website more social by iMedia Connection

Jeff RagovinJeff Ragovin offers tips for creating a more social-friendly website, from first determining your social objectives and choosing your social networks wisely to keeping “your theme and aesthetic similar across digital presences” (i.e., branding) and incentivizing your readers to share your content.

10 Useful Findings About How People View Websites by ConversionXL

Peep LajaPeep Laja shares practical applications of 10 findings from eye-tracking studies, such as that the top left-corner of a site gets initial attention; that people read in F-patterns; that the most effective images are large, high-quality photos of people facing forward; and, most frighteningly, that “When viewing a website, it takes users less than two-tenths of a second to form a first impression.”

List Building: The four questions every email capture page must answer by MarketingSherpa

David Kilpatrick outlines four questions visitors will naturally have when hitting your landing page, such as “Why should I sign up?…What you want to avoid is simply saying, ‘Sign up for our FREE newsletter.’ Write from the subscriber’s point of view and explain how the opt-in for your email program will help the new subscriber solve challenges and eliminate pain points.”

6 Tips to Boost Your Web Presence by Inc.

Though this post largely centers around Lance Armstrong’s website—since somewhat discredited by Lance’s honesty issues—it still contains some great nuggets of wisdom, such as that one should “Keep it simple. The goal of most websites is to get visitors to the content they seek as quickly as possible. A simple, intuitive design is the best way to accomplish that.”

Put Customer Convenience Front And Center When Designing Websites – Part II by MediaPost

Jim Gilmartin details 10 “dos and don’ts” of website design, specifically “to help increase the satisfaction quotient and reduce the frustration quotient of most site visitors especially Baby Boomers and senior visitors,” though the advice applies much more broadly than that. For example, do include a blog and place a (simple) newsletter sign-up box on your site (presuming you offer a newsletter); don’t use auto-play videos, Flash or poorly-crafted titles.

12 Design Best Practices for Drop-Down Menus by Get Elastic

Linda BustosLinda Bustos offers a dozen tips for maximizing the usability of drop-down menus, among them: keep menus as short as possible; use multiple columns for unavoidably long menus; set the menu off clearly with a border or shadow; and get the timing right (“the menu should wait for half a second before appearing, as this prevents the menu popping up every time a user passes their mouse pointer over the top”).

Free Design Fonts

10 Extremely Good Free Fonts for Your Designs by Web Design Ledger

Henry JonesHenry Jones showcases 10 free design fonts, including Bemio, a fun, rounded “ultrabold sans with an extensive character set (which) bridges the gap between old signage and craftsmanship with modern forms and simplicity,” designed by Joe Prince.

28 New Free Fonts For Web Designers by Splashnology

This post highlights more than two dozen free fonts for web designers, such as Adamas Regular by Octavian Belintan, PLSTK by Aesthetic Therapie and Bispo by Jackson Alves. “a script typeface made inspiring on italic chancery calligraphy, with a flat nib pen and a module of 10 pen widths.”

8 Beautiful New Free Fonts by Web Design Ledger

Henry Jones (again) shares eight more free design fonts, including FatFrank, Acorn Typeface and the art deco-ish 47.

10 Excellent New Free Fonts by Web Design Ledger

One more set of free font downloads from Henry Jones, this set featuring typefaces like Nexa, Bouwen and NeoDeco.

Free Social Media Icon Sets

115 Creative and Unique Social Media Icon Sets by EntheosWeb Blog

There’s nothing unusual about including social media icons on blogs, but there are certainly some unusual and distinctive icon sets here. If you want the social icons on your site to stand out from the standard circles or rounded squares, you’ll find plenty of alternatives here, from colorful splashes and jeans pockets to coffee cups, bottle caps and T-shirts.

Best Free Social Media Icon Sets for 2012 by DandyWP

Hand-drawn social media icon setWhile there is inevitably some overlap between this post and the one above, here you will also find interesting icon sets along the themes of trucks, blueprints, monochrome and hand-drawn themes.

20 Free Social Icon Packs That Will Make Your Design Stand Up by Top Design Magazine

Still more social icon sets, from hearts and “Windows 8 style” to squares and sprockets.

Free Social Media Icons (34 Sets) by Graphic Design Junction

Muhammad Faisal presents nearly three dozen creative social icon sets, with themes ranging from 3D social icons and icons with a hand-sketched look to blue, neon, street signs, faded, retro, flaming, dark, frozen. letterpress, Easter egg, and speech bubble.

Parallax Scrolling Design Guides

Parallax Hovering And Its Engaging Quality For Web Design by Usabilla

Sabina IdlerSabina Idler explains what parallax effects are in scrolling and hovering, how they work, how they attract visitor attention, and a bit about how to implement them, then illustrates all of this with 10 richly visual examples of parallax website design, from Grab&Go  to Batman 3D.

Hot Web Design Trends: Parallax Scrolling Effects in 100 Examples by Splashnology

For more about parallax scrolling (which is a “technique that features layered images that move around the website in different speeds/perspectives creating a nice and interesting 3D illusion”), check out 100 more examples of the approach here including 8vodesigns, Head2heart.us and Electrochuck.com

Website Trust and Credibility

The Psychology of Why Sexy Websites Suck at Sales by KISSmetrics

D Bnonn TennantD Bnonn Tennant explains why consumers naturally trust “attractive” websites, but that in this case, attractive does not mean sexy or flashy—it means following some conventional design standards that won’t make a site exciting, but may very well help it to convert more successfully.

Give Your Website Soul With Emotionally Intelligent Interactions by Smashing Magazine

Chuck LonganeckerChuck Longanecker writes that when he researched sites and apps with high loyalty, he found “the websites and apps we truly love have one thing in common: soul. They’re humanized. They have emotional intelligence designed into the user experience. And this emotional intelligence is crafted through thoughtful interaction design and feedback mechanisms built into the website.” He then showcases a number of sites that meet this criteria, demonstrating how each is infused with creativity and emotional intelligence.

9 User Experience Pitfalls That Repel Website Visitors by KISSmetrics

Zach BulygoBecause no one wants to lose website visitors due to factors within their control, Zach Bulygo here reveals the unpleasant truths about factors that can drive visitors away, including the use of stock photography (that smiling young woman with the headset representing “customer service” is used on far too many sites), having a slow-loading site, using auto-play videos, and—ugh, my pet peeve!—pop-ups. As Zach puts it, “It’s 2012, why does your website still have annoying pop-up advertisements?…Save pop-ups for the spam sites.”

39 Factors: Website Credibility Checklist by ConversionXL

Writing that “web credibility is about making your website in such a way that it comes across as trustworthy and knowledgeable. Your website is often the first point of contact for the customers…Companies that design for credibility have a strategic advantage over competition,” Peep Laja (again) identifies four types of website credibility, then presents a detailed website credibility checklist–factors to examine (and if necessary, change) on your site such as using case studies and testimonials, while avoiding excessive ads, unsupported superlatives and cheesy stock photos.

Landing Page and CTA Design Tips

8 Reasons Users Don’t Fill Out Sign Up Forms by UX Movement

Noting that “Most users today are more wary than ever about who handles their personal information. In a cyber world full of hackers and spammers, who can blame them?,” this post outlines reasons visitors may not be signing up on your site (for a download, a webinar, a newsletter, whatever)—and by extension, how you can make it more likely that they will sign up—such as fear of being spammed, concern you’re asking for too much information or information you don’t need, or simply not seeing a compelling call to action.

5 Highly Effective Landing Page Tips by Search Engine Land

Mona ElesseilyMona Elesseily details five elements that can increase landing page engagement, including credibility indicators like customer quotes, removing unnecessary page elements, and experimenting with different wording on action buttons (after all, who really wants to “submit”?).

14 Real-Life Examples of CTA Copy YOU Should Copy by HubSpot

Pamela VaughanNoting that “while CTA design is critical to initially drawing the attention of your visitors, it’s the copy of your calls-to-action that has to be compelling enough to get them clicking,” frequent best-of honoree Pamela Vaughan shares 14 examples of outstanding call-to-action copywriting from both well-known sites (Amazon.com) and more obscure ones (OH! Media).

Mobile Website Design Tips, Tools and Resources

Ultimate Guide to Responsive Web Design: 55 Stunning Tools, Tutorials, and Examples by 1stWebDesigner

Noting that “It is estimated that within two years mobile internet users will overtake the desktop internet users,” Daniels Mekšs steps through more than 50 resources for responsive design, from tools like Less Framework 4 and Gridless to sources of “Inspiration” like Quazarwebdesign and Apgdesign.

The 5 worst mobile websites by iMedia Connection

Eric AndersonOf course these aren’t literally the very worst mobile sites in existence, but as Eric Anderson explains, “rather than trying to simply expose five bad mobile sites, I looked for sites that were archetypal of certain common mobile usability problems,” and he found, among others, “The bad first date: Hardee’s” which asks for your zipcode (while you are likely on the road far from home) and the “irony of the year award: Nokia” which—at the time of the writing of this article—did not actually have a mobile website.

10 best practices for your mobile website by Socialmedia.biz

Deltina HayDeltina Hay presents 10 “best practices that should be applied to all mobile websites,” among them taking advantage of mobile features (“Like the click-to-call button, there are features specific to mobile devices that can be used to improve your site’s user experience”) and using a conventional URL structure (“It is becoming standard to find a website’s mobile version at a URL like m.example.com”).

Why Google loves responsive design (and you should too) by Econsultancy

Mike EssexMike Essex outlines half a dozen reasons to use responsive design, such as that “Responsive sites attract more links to key pages” (because there aren’t multiple URLs with the same copy), responsive sites work on multiple devices, and responsive sites (usually) look better, then points readers to resources for getting started with responsive design.

Mobile Websites vs Responsive Design: What’s the right solution for your business? by Google Mobile Ads Blog
***** 5 STARS

Jessica SapickAlthough responsive design is now generally regarded as the best approach to accommodating the needs of both desktop and mobile web users, Jessica Sapick points out that it’s not the best approach in every situation—and provides a vital guide to determining which approach is best based specific business needs.

Best practices for mobile email design by Econsultancy

Observing that about a third of email use is now on mobile devices, Erik Boman offers more than a dozen practical tips for mobile-friendly email design, from going easy on images and including social links (but keeping them out of the way of important calls to action) to using a one-column layout and not crowding links.

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30 Awesome Blogging Guides, Tips and Resources

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

Despite the occasional “death of blogging” pronouncements (often made, ironically, in blog posts), blogs remain the core of a robust social media strategy. The proliferation of themes, tools and plugins have transformed blogs from mere online text collections to powerful interactive, rich-media sites that can attract, engage and educate your potential buyers.

Particularly with Google’s emphasis in its recent Panda and Penguin algorithm updates on content that is fresh, compelling, unique, social, and naturally linked to, blogs have become even more essential to SEO strategies.

For those who still aren’t convinced of the value of business blogging (as well as those who need to convince others), the “why blog” posts below provide compelling evidence. Those getting started or already active in blogging will discover how to:

  • • grow blog traffic,
  • • make content more valuable to readers,
  • • increase blogging productivity,
  • • generate more comments and social shares,
  • • find royalty-free images,
  • • promote your blog, and

more here in 30 of the best business blogging guides and resources of the past year.

Why Blog

Why You Want To Be the Last Blog Standing by Outspoken Media

Lisa BaroneReporting that “the number of Inc. 500 companies maintaining corporate blogs has dropped for the first time since 2007. Did you hear that? IT DROPPED! According to Dartmouth’s research, just 37 percent of companies interviewed said they had a corporate blog, down from 50 percent in 2010,” frequent best-of honoree Lisa Barone advises readers to “let your blog be the last blog standing because while sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may be effective and sexy all in their own right, they don’t hold a candle to the sexiness and superpowers possessed by your blog,” and backs it up with 10 reasons and tactics to beat your competition through blogging.

Yes, Your Company Needs a Blog – 13 Reasons Why by AboutUs

Kristina WeisKristina Weis provides a baker’s dozen reasons for creating a corporate blog, from demonstrating your expertise (“If [prospective customers] can easily find some articles written by you and/or your staff that show your company’s expertise, they’re going to feel a lot more confident about spending their time or money [or both] with you”) and increasing website traffic to helping with customer support and generating new product ideas.

Past, Present and Future of Blogging: 3 Infographics by jeffbullas.com

Jeff BullasJeff Bullas shares a wealth of fascinating blogging facts and stats here, such as that 27 of the top 100 blogs are built on WordPress, with 16 on TypePad. 43% of U.S. companies now maintain blogs. And more than half of all social media-driven blog traffic comes from Facebook (28%) and Twitter (26%) combined.

7 Tips for Blogging – Maybe Your Most Important Social Media Activity for Business by SocialSteve’s Blog

Steve GoldnerContending that “Everyone always jumps onto Facebook and Twitter as one of their first social media activities. I recommend you think about blogging first. No other endeavor can be better to promote you or your brand as a subject matter expert,” Steve Goldner offers seven tips for blogging success,  such as utilizing your passion, speaking (writing) naturally, and posting on a consistent basis.

Dozens of reasons why corporate blogs still matter in B2B marketing by Content Marketing Experience

J-P DeClerckJ-P De Clerck makes a comprehensive case for corporate blogging—as long as it isn’t done the “wrong” way: “It’s traditional PR in a new package: corporate blogs as a way to shout how great they are.” Done right, blogs serve as the hub of a company’s social media strategy, a magnet for search traffic, and an opportunity to speak to prospective customers on a more informal, human level. He points out that 57% of companies with blogs have acquired at least one customer through blogging; that blogs make it easy to share multiple types of information; and that they make it easy (and even inviting) for customers and prospects to provide feedback.

Blogging Tips and Guides

33 Ways to Get Help For Your Blog (Without Breaking the Bank) by Heidi Cohen

Heidi CohenFrequent best-of author Heidi Cohen offers nearly three dozen ideas “to help you efficiently leverage resources in seven of the areas where many bloggers typically need support,” such as content block (one idea: “Answer customer questions…Collect the questions prospects and customers ask from sales and customer service; then answer them”), lack of creative resources, and disappointing blog traffic.

20 Ways to Improve Your Blog by TribalCafe

Gary FoxReporting that “28% of brands that (didn’t previously) publish a blog (planned) to do so in 2012—bringing the percentage of brands that publish a blog to 85%,” Gary Fox lists 20 ways to attract more readers and generate better business results from blogging, among them using strong visuals, varying blog topics, and making your content SEO-friendly (“focus on a keyword [phrase] for each blog post and try to not venture too far” from it).

5 Tips to Becoming a Top Blog in Your Industry by Social Media Examiner

Michael StelznerMichael Stelzner shares a handful of techniques he used to make Social Media Examiner a big success, such as surveying the interests of your audience (“When you know precisely what content your readers crave, it’s much easier to create posts that are widely read and shared on social channels”) and spinning a single hot topic into multiple posts from different perspectives (e.g., a beginner’s guide, biggest myths or misconceptions, case studies, etc.).

Five Tips to Make Company Blogs Worth Reading by Marketing Profs

Muhammad YasinMuhammad Yasin offers a handful of helpful recommendations for making your company blog a success, including focusing on expert tips: “If you are not an expert yourself in a particular field, find experts and learn from them. See what they are writing about, absorb their knowledge, and share their tips. Better yet, invite those experts to share their knowledge on your blog as guest bloggers. Allowing independent experts to write for your blog can provide a much needed fresh perspective and may result in their recommending your products or services.”

Fixing The Social Media Plateau by Soulati Media

Jayme SoulatiThe delightful Jayme Soulati identifies 10 signs that “may be an indication it’s time to step up your game, take it to the next level, and grow or remain complacent” in terms of your social media practices, such as “Learning new things becomes more rare; another 20 ways to use Pinterest blog post isn’t providing new insight over what you know now,” and tips to get un-stuck (e.g., “Reduce the time spent on the channels that don’t return much to you. That way, you’re not spread as thin”).

10 Valuable Ideas to Help You Find Time to Blog by MyBeak Social Media

Laura-Lee WalkerWriting that “Creating content and finding the time to do it are the biggest obstacles entrepreneurs and small business owners face when marketing their business,” Laura-Lee Walker presents helpful ideas for generating more content in less time, among them inviting guest bloggers, repurposing existing material,  and using mobile phone apps like Dragon Dictator: “You don’t have time to write down all your ideas or blog posts…simply use an application…that will translate your voice to text. (They are) not perfect but will give you a head start and reduce the time you spend on typing your blog articles.”

21 Business Blogging Tips From the Pros by Social Media Examiner

Cindy KingThe impeccably discerning Cindy King curates an outstanding collection of blogging tips from pros like Leo Widrich (“A product is only useful if you know others want it. Validate an idea for a blog post in the same way”), Heidi Cohen (“Understand prospects, customers and the public are on your blog to get answers to their questions and accomplish their goals, not yours”), and Stephanie Sammons (“Work to develop a blogging style that is unique to you. What’s your angle? What’s your view? How can you differentiate yourself from others who are blogging in your niche?”).

Guest Blogging: Seven Tips for Success by Spin Sucks

Gini DietrichPR expert and author Gini Dietrich offers several excellent tips for expanding your reach by publishing guest posts on other influential blogs. My favorite tip is her first, on how to gauge authority (and corresponding effort) of a blog: “Go to Open Site Explorer and type in the URL for the blog for which you’d like to submit content. I’ll do it for Wood Street…You’ll see the site authority is 48/100. If the authority is 40-70, it’s worth pursuing. If it’s higher than 70, you’ll have a tougher time getting your content on the site, so you’ll need to be extremely patient, but persistent. If it’s between 90 and 100, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get something placed there without the help of a communications professional.”

Starting a Blog in 2013? 16 Ideas to Avoid Complete & Utter Failure (Infographic) by Pinterest

Wendy MarxNoting that “the majority of blogs starting every year end up failing,” Wendy Marx offers 16 tips in this infographic to beating the odds, such as “Be consistent: Whether you keep an editorial calendar or not, it’s important to continue to publish content on your blog because that consistency brings in more traffic” (amen!) and (perhaps most importantly), “Have fun with it: Don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun with the process and enjoy every minute as your grow your audience and build your business.”

Guest post: 7 powerful headline techniques to skyrocket your blog traffic by Creative Ramblings

Lillian LeonReminding us all that “in the online world, your headline is the single most important part of your content…instead of reading every blog post, people scan for information. They look for headlines that capture their interest, and only click on the ones they feel are worthy of their time,” Lillian Leon details seven techniques for crafting headlines that grab attention, including “Fear: Identify the one thing your readers fear the most, and you’ll have yourself a headline that’s pretty much impossible to ignore.”

10 Additional Ideas to Generate Comments and Shares by Spin Sucks

Following up on an earlier post on the same topic, Gini Dietrich (again) offers 10 more ideas to increase engagement on your blog, from writing book reviews and rants to covering the latest trends and answering questions commonly heard by your sales force or customer service reps.

Content Development and Writing Tips

26 Tips for Writing Great Blog Posts by Social Media Examiner

Debbie HemleyIn her own unique and highly creative style, Debbie Hemley presents “26 tips, from A-Z, to help you create optimal blog posts every time you sit down to write,” beginning with A for Anatomically Correct: every blog post should contain the “six parts of the anatomy of a lead-generating blog post” such as an eye-catching title, calls to action, and social sharing buttons.

12 Most Useful Sources for Good Stuff to Post by 12 Most

Peg FitzpatrickPeg Fitzpatrick passes along content curation tips from Guy Kawasaki in this post showcasing the top dozen places to find shareworthy content, starting with your own network and including both popular sharing sites (like StumbleUpon and AllTop) and less obvious choices (e.g., Futurity, TED and NPR).

How to find photos you can legally use anywhere by CBS MoneyWatch

Dave JohnsonObserving that “No matter what you publish — a blog, updates to the company website, project reports, or even the venerable tri-fold — you no doubt need artwork to complement it,” but just haphazardly reusing artwork found online can lead to legal troubles, Dave Johnson recommends two easy methods for finding photos that are usable under the Creative Commons license.

29 Free Blog Images Sources: Where to Get Royalty Free Photos by Directory Journal
***** 5 STARS

Gail GardnerIn case Dave’s recommendations above don’t quite meet your needs, Gail Gardner provides a massive list of sites where you can find free or reasonably priced images, as well as resources for comparing prices across different image sites, selling your photos, identifying trademarked images, adding images to blog posts, and more.

5 of the Most Important Content & Social Media Tips For A Successful Business Blog by TopRank Online Marketing Blog

Lee OddenLee Odden writes that “If I were only to give 5 content marketing tips to a company that wanted to get the most for and from its customers through blogging, here are the tips I’d give.” Among his top five tips? Focus on the problems your audience faces—but don’t forget to tell them how you can solve those problems. Create an editorial plan. And measure results to support continual improvement.

How to Differentiate Your Content by Geoff Livingston’s Blog

Geoff LivingstonGeoff Livingston lays out four steps to becoming an “A-list” blogger in your niche subject area. Given Geoff’s success, I won’t argue with his methodology—though it’s not for everyone. But if you’ve got the time, intestinal fortitude and financial backing or wherewithal to pursue his program, go for it.

The Nine Ingredients That Make Great Content by KISSmetrics

Zach BulygoContending that “In order to boost SEO rankings, gain traffic and/or leads, you need to have great content on your blog or website,” Zach Bulygo shares nine tips for producing stand-out content (such as making your content actionable: “The best content gives the user a sense of how to apply the information…Many times, just writing well about a topic will spark some ideas for readers,”) then follows up with half a dozen examples of sites that consistently provide remarkable content.

Blog Promotion Tips and Tactics

6 Tips For Building a High Quality Blog Following by Fearless Competitor

Shane SnowShane Snow channels Jeff Ogden and Brian Clark in this post, providing “six tips to attracting readers who stick around longer than the click of a StumbleUpon button,” such as speaking to a specific audience, guest blogging and publishing guest bloggers, and encouraging loyalty through consistency: “taking an editorial stand for what you believe in, rather than watering things down to avoid offending anyone. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to try to be controversial. In this day and age, simply taking a position and standing behind it will bring people who agree, and people who don’t.”

Want Your Blog Noticed? (Hint: It’s Not Just Content!) by Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen (again) supplies 23 tips for growing awareness of your blog, such as integrating your blog’s brand into related content and activities (“As a media entity, your blog deserves its own brand. If it’s a corporate brand, it should be adapted for the blog”), referencing and linking to sources, and guest blogging.

Want to Increase Blog Traffic? Some Fab Tips for Success by Positively Peggy

The ebullient Peg Fitzpatrick (again) serves up five tips for growing blog traffic, such as sharing your content at optimal times: “Buffer App helps you not only share at the optimal times based on your followers being online but also evenly distributes your amazing content throughout the day so you don’t annoy your followers with a huge spurt of brilliance and then lose them with silence later.”

How Bloggers Can Grow Each Others Readership by The @Steveology Blog

Steve FarnsworthSteve Farnsworth recommends Triberr as a tool for increasing the reach of your blog posts, and explains in detail how Triberr works and how to get the most out of it (e.g., by starting your own tribe, joining other tribes, and “dating around”). While the tool is a great concept and has potential, its ongoing technical issues are frustrating.

How to Effectively Promote Your Blog Posts by MyBeak Social Media
***** 5 STARS

Beyond the big social networks and Triberr, Laura-Lee Walker (again) presents an infographic illustrating 30 ways to promote your blog content using social media, social bookmarking sites (does anyone still use Digg?), your contacts, other blogs, and 10 top syndication sites.

5 ways to promote your blog by commenting on others by Creative Ramblings

Cendrine MarrouatCendrine Marrouat explains why commenting on blogs is beneficial (chief among the rewards: “You get to connect and build relationships with other bloggers”) and how to do it well (e.g., add value to the conversation, share relevant links, and comment regularly on the same blogs).

30 Ways to Promote Your Blog Posts by Listly
***** 5 STARS

Ted RubinTed Rubin shares a bookmark-worthy list of tactics for sharing and promoting blog posts, including Facebook (“Add it on your personal & business pages, groups and through ads”), Pinterest (“Create a board specifically for all your blog posts and pin each post to it”) and through AllTop.com (“syndicates content in every category, from autos and food to business and sports”).

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24 of the Best Google+ Guides, Tips, Rants and Raves of 2012

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Will Google+ be a “Facebook killer” or just Google’s next failed social network? It’s certainly gaining traction, with over 500 million users now on board, already half of Facebook’s total. Then again, the average Facebook user spends nearly seven hours per month on the site—compared to just three minutes for the average Google+user.

Best Google+ Guides, Tips and Rants of 2012Many of this year’s best posts about Google’s newest social platform were written early in the year. Since then, though the user base has continued to grow, enthusiasm seems to have waned. While Marty Weintraub offers a more provocative metaphor below, it almost seems like Google+ is becoming the colonoscopy of social networks: everyone agrees it’s vitally important, but few people really want to talk about it or spend any more time on it than absolutely necessary.

“Ghost town” or not, many experts agree that Google+ is here to stay, and it’s valuable for b2b marketing, SEO, personal branding, and reputation management. So what makes Google+ special? What are the best practices for business use of the platform? How can an individual or organization most efficiently grow a following there? And will Google+ end Facebook’s domination of social networking—or will it “break the Internet”?

Find those answers and more here in two dozen of the best Google+ guides, tips, rants and raves of the past year.

Google+ Guides and Tips

5 Things Google+ Offers Brands That Facebook Doesn’t by Sprout Insights

Susan GuneliusSusan Gunelius outlines five social networking features unique to Google+, including circles (which enable you to “separate your customers from your colleagues and online influencers from your business partners”) and hangouts (which can be “used for things like small-group webinars, question and answer sessions, and more”).

Why brands will lose if they ignore Google+ by iMedia Connection

Though he calls Google+ a “half-baked invention,” Daniel Flamberg nevertheless advises that “savvy marketers should use Google+ these five ways,” including experimenting with hangouts, expanding social assets and audiences, and optimizing branded search: “Link owned digital assets to Google+. Use the +1 and encourage your followers to do the same. Plant +1 badges on all your assets to take advantage of the Direct Connect tool that automatically brings customers and prospects searching in your category to your page.”

6 Steps to Getting Started With Google+ by Social Media Examiner

Marc PitmanFor marketers who are either still on the fence about Google+ or just haven’t done much with it, Marc Pitman provides an excellent guide to the basics like filling up your links “While you’re editing your ‘about’ page, be sure to pay attention to the ‘other profiles’ section…(consider adding) links to other social media networks, links to your business sites (and) links to special pages on your website.”

The First 5 Things You Should Do With Your Google+ Business Page by WindMill Networking

Mark TraphagenOnce you’ve finished with Marc Pitman’s post above, Mark Traphagen presents a five-step process for taking your business presence on Google+ to the next level, starting with 1 four-item list on optimizing your page for SEO followed by upgraded the visual appearance of your page and filling your stream with quality content.

3 reasons Google+ is not a social network by iMedia Connection

Lauren FriedmanLauren Friedman explains why she thinks Google+ is not a social network but brands should be there anyway–for example, for SEO purposes: “The best way brands can take advantage of Google+ is to amp-up their SEO. Each time a user clicks the +1 button, it helps with that brand’s SEO and the content getting served to users above other content. Search results are personalized based on the +1s of those in your circles, and as a marketer, that changes the game. Search results are still based on Google’s proprietary algorithms, but sites with more +1s will appear to be more relevant and thus ranked higher.”

3 Successful Google+ Pages and Why They Work by Social Media Examiner

Lisa PeytonLisa Peyton highlights three examples of successful Google+ brand pages such as the NASA page, where “The active space and science community on Google+ may support speculation that platform users are mostly tech-savvy early adopters. This finding contradicts the fact that the TOP Google+ profile belongs to pop star Britney spears. However, her page garners less engagement based upon the number of followers than the top brands outlined in this article.”

Google+ for SEO? Don’t Focus on Your Brand Page! by B2B Digital Marketing

Eric WittlakeContradicting popular wisdom, Eric Wittlake argues that “Google+ Brand Pages are not the ticket to SEO success. In fact, if you focus your Google+ efforts on your new brand page, you will miss the most important search benefits of Google+.” He then outline three strategies he says are designed to improve search rank and traffic.

6 Reasons Why Adding Google+ to Your Web Presence & SEO Strategy is a Good Idea by iMedia Connection

Krista LaRiviereKrista LaRiviere of web presence optimization software vendor gShift Labs offers six reasons for brands to embrace Google+, among them fresh content (“Google+ is just one more place to publish your press releases, blogs, testimonials, case studies and news. The difference with Google+ is that your content, if found, will be listed at the top of Google personal results mixed in with traditional search results”) and the fact that Google+ produces social signals which factor into Google’s ranking algorithm.

32 Totally Free Google “Search Plus Your World” #SEO Resources by aimClear Blog
***** 5 STARS

Marty WeintraubFrequent best-of honoree Marty Weintraub compares Google+ to a dominatrix (it makes sense the way he writes it), offering short-term pleasure (search rank improvement) at the expense of long-term frustration. Still, he thinks it’s worth the effort to chase the temporary bump and so shares an excellent list of nearly three dozen how-to articles from writers like Lisa Barone, Matt McGee and Stephanie Cain.

Reputation Management: How Google+ Can Be Your Best Friend or Your Worst Enemy by Business2Community

Danny DeMicheleContending that “PageRank, Google’s ranking scoring system, is profoundly impacted by these (Google +1) votes,” Danny DeMichele provides a simple four-step process for using Google+ as part of a broader reputation (personal or brand) strategy.

20 Google+ Terms and Definitions You Need to Know by Sprout Insights

Susan Gunelius (again) presents helpful definitions of basic (e.g., “Chat: Using the Chat feature, you can notify people in your Google+ Circles that you’re online and available for an online chat from within Google+”) and advanced Google+ terms (such as “Data Liberation: Use this feature to download and backup the content in your Google+ Account, which is available through the Google+ Settings option [the gear icon in the upper-right corner of your screen when you’re logged into your Google+ account”]).

How Google’s +1 Button Affects SEO by Mashable

Keith KaplanKeith Kaplan explains that although “The +1 has an indirect effect on your site’s search rank. This does not mean the more +1’s a link has, the higher rank it achieves in traditional search results,” it can indirectly help with SEO by making a piece of content more likely to be clicked on and shared on other social networks—which does actually affect rank.

How to Effectively Create a Google+ Following of 10,000 Engaged Fans by Search Engine Watch

Eric SiuEric Siu shares advice from Fraser Cain, publisher of the Universe Today space and astronomy news website, on how to build, maintain and engage a large following on Google+. Eric contends that Fraser’s success, based on unique content and active network, belies the notion promoted by some (such as Austin Carr, below) that Google+ is a “ghost town.”

Build Your Google Plus Page Following with Topical Pages by WindMill Networking
***** 5 STARS

This tip from guest blogger Mark Traphagen (again) is almost too good to share. “What if you could create opt-in subscription lists on Google+? You can! Here’s the wonderful secret: you can create a Google+ page about virtually anything, including a topic. It doesn’t necessarily have to be connected with a brand name.” He then details a “simple strategy for using Pages to create opt-in subscription lists about specific topics.”

Quick Tricks to Make Your Google Plus Business Page Sparkle by ZD Design Blog

Donnie BryantAgain arguing against the “Google+ is a ghost town” thesis, Donnie Bryant here provides a handful of helpful tips for getting more performance out of a Google+ business page, from creating a short URL and maximizing the use of photos and video to encouraging sharing.

The Marketer’s Guide to Google Plus by KISSmetrics

Zach BulygoZach Bulygo offers a highly detailed and richly illustrated guide to marketing on Google+, from the basics of business page setup and getting a verified name to optimizing your tagline, use of photos. Google+ author tag and the +1 sharing button.

How to Use Google Plus for Personal Branding and Establishing Author Rank by WindMill Networking

Neal SchafferNeal Schaffer quotes Mark Traphagen (one last time), who calls Google+ a “powerhouse” because of its “tight integration into Google search. Google+ posts are easily indexed by Google search, and unlike tweets or Facebook posts, are treated much like regular web pages. That means a well-constructed G+ post (with a main keyword in the first sentence/title and a good amount of engagement) can rank well in Google search and, unlike other social media status posts, actually stay ranked for a long time,” and explains why Google authorship is important and how to set it up.

Google+ Rants and Raves

Google+ Is Going To Mess Up The Internet by ReadWrite

Jon MitchellJon Mitchell is not a fan of Google’s latest social network and isn’t afraid to say so. He writes, “Google tools used to enhance the Internet. But as Google ships ‘the Google part’ of its new Google+ identity, it’s breaking the Web it once helped build,” and then offers half a dozen specific reasons why.

“Don’t Be Evil” Tool — Backed By Facebook & Twitter — Shows Google’s “Search Plus Your World” Can Go Beyond Google+ by Search Engine Land

Danny SullivanDanny Sullivan details the use and results from the “Don’t be Evil” browser bookmarklet, stating that “The companies behind the tool feel Google’s hasn’t focused on what’s best for its users with Search Plus Your World. They have a good point. But the tool makes this point better than all the debates that have happened so far around Search Plus Your Word, because it shows what Google could have done to better serve searchers, if it had wanted to.” He also explains how some features of Google+ are part of the problem.

How Google+ Is Encircling Your Brand by MediaPost

Though he believes “Google+ is emerging as a great way for brands to connect directly with consumers,” Gavin O’Malley also notes that a disproportionate share of interaction is driven by a few aggressive, early adopting brands on the platform, and points out “Google+ still has less than 1/100th the number of total consumers interacting with the top 100 brands that Facebook has achieved.”

Exclusive: New Google+ Study Reveals Minimal Social Activity, Weak User Engagement by Fast Company

Austin CarrAustin Carr reports on the findings of a study which paints “very poor picture of the search giant’s social network–a picture of waning interest, weak user engagement, and minimal social activity.” Among te research findings from RJ Metrics, “Roughly 30% of users who make a public post never make a second one” and “Even after making five public posts, there is a 15% chance that a user will not post publicly again.” The author concludes that Google+ “might indeed just be a ‘virtual ghost town,’ as some have argued.”

Think You Don’t Need Google+ in Your Business? Think Again! by Rebekah Radice

Rebekah RadiceWhile acknowledging that Google+ has its shortcomings and that many marketers remain (not entirely unreasonably) skeptical about the platform, Rebekah Radice nevertheless offers half a dozen reasons to embrace Google’s social network, such as the circles and hangouts features and the B2B networking value.

With Google+ Communities, Google launches its own version of Facebook Groups by VentureBeat

Tom CheredarTom Cheredar explains how Google+ Communities work and how this capability compares with Facebook groups: “There are a few notable (notable differences between Google+ Communities and Facebook Groups), including the ability to start a Google Hangout video chat with the community and sharing things specifically with G+ communities from any +1 button. That’s pretty cool, and something that might actually attract people to use it over Facebook.”

Google+ becomes the world’s social platform…with Community by Relevanza

Steve HartWriting that “While Google announced Google+ reached 500 million users, the bigger announcement by far was the roll out of Google+ Communities,” Steve Hart explains what Communities are, how they work, what they can be used for, and why they are “a BFD.”

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33 (of the) Best Social Media Guides, Tips and Resources of 2012 So Far

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Given the widespread adoption of social media marketing practices, the “if” and “when” questions seemed to have now been resolved by most midsized and larger companies (and a lot of small companies as well).

Many social media marketing questions remainHowever, as the posts and articles highlighted below show, plenty of questions remain, such as how much should we budget for social media? What’s the best process for developing a social media marketing plan? How should we staff for this and train current employees to contribute? How do we demonstrate the ROI of social efforts?

Find the answers to those questions and many more here in almost three dozen of the best social media tips, how-to guides, lists and reports of 2012 so far.

Social Media Marketing Tips, Tactics & Techniques

Dr. Seuss’ 7 social media lessons by Ragan’s PR Daily

The delightful Heidi Cohen presents seven social media marketing tips in Dr. Seuss style, among them “‘Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.’ Be yourself on social media platforms and reveal your true essence…Show who you are with your avatar and profiles. Include information that proves you’re human.”

9 social media hacks you need to embrace now by iMedia Connection

Astutely noting that “Social media isn’t inexpensive, it’s just different expensive. To do it well requires a tremendous time commitment, and regardless of what your life and lifestyle entails, the time you spend on social comes with an opportunity cost price tag,” Jay Baer offers six tips for getting more done in social media in less time, such as listening to podcasts while commuting or working out, and utilizing tools like Buffer and If This Then That.

Five Types of Social Media Influencers by Intelegia

Raymond Morin presents both Klout’s 12-type matrix of social influencer types as well as Lisa Barone’s simpler model of five types, including the networker (“one who has the biggest contact list and found on all platforms. He or she who knows everybody and everybody knows him or her”) and the sharer (“one who distributes information to the bloggers to journalists through the specialized webzines. He or she usually amplifies messages”).

Brands Face Stream Fatigue as Consumers Look Beyond Gimmicks in Social Networks by Brian Solis

“Businesses are interacting with consumers to socialize rather than learn about customer expectations to in turn, deliver tangible value, improve product experiences, and invest in long-term relationships,” writes Brian Solis, who then details an experiment by Andrew Blakeley in which he spent a week as a “social consumer.” Blakeley concluded that “the online experience for consumers was undefined or uncharted, leaving consumers to fend for themselves to find relevance within the engagement without any reinforcement to brand value or story.” Don’t be one of those brands.

What Marketing Questions Are Worth Asking in Social Media Listening? by MarketingProfs

David Rabjohns says that the top five questions Fortune 500 companies are asking about social media are:

  • • Where are people talking about my brand?
  • • How should I change my messaging?
  • • How much buzz do I have vs. competition/trend?
  • • How do they feel about us vs. the competition?
  • • Quantify the biggest brand topics.

Why Now Is The Time To Build Your Personal Brand by B2B Marketing Insider

You want loyalty? Get a dog. Michael Brenner notes how recession, downsizing, the end of pensions and other developments (the accelerating pace of technological change) have made the implicit employment “contract” that existed for much of the last century obsolete, and offers four tips for building a brand that will enhance your professional success and influence.

29 Social Media Leaps of Faith by Heidi Cohen

Heidi lists 29 helpful “leaps of faith to help you build your social media presence and activity,” such as building your social media tribe, introducing your connections to each other (where is may be mutually beneficial), and guest blogging.

3 Steps to an Effective Social Media Strategy by Social Media Examiner

Amy Porterfield outlines a “three-step plan designed to help you develop an effective, streamlined road map for social media success,” beginning with an assessment of where you are at today and working through ongoing monitoring, measurement and continual improvement.

How to create and edit articles for Wikipedia by Web Ink Now
***** 5 STARS

Wikipedia is one of the most popular sites on the web, so getting exposure there is incredibly valuable. But the site is not of course, and shouldn’t be, a marketing tool. Content needs to be informational and neutral in tone. David Meerman Scott explains how to properly write for Wikipedia here.

How to Train Employees to Manage Social Media [infographic] by WordPress Hosting SEO

This infographic explains why existing employees may make the best social media managers, how to divide employees into different training groups most appropriate to their skills, and recommendations for handling personal social media use at work.

How To Write Your Social Media Plan in 8 Steps by Social Media Today

Mike Thimmesch lays out an eight-step process for drafting a social media plan, starting with painting “The Picture of The Big Opportunity of Social Media” and finishing with an urgent call to action (“While similar to how you started your plan, you want to finish with some more strident points that create a sense of urgency”).

7 tips to take social to the next level by iMedia Connection

Erick Mott walks through the definitions of and process of creating owned, paid and earned media followed by seven tips for developing and implementing a social plan, among them “Staff up your social media roles with a distributed workforce that can collaborate and perform in real time. Plot where your organization is, which will help inform strategy and budget and hopefully help you secure what you need for the next phase.”

21 Tips to Balance Social Media Addiction, Tweets, Life and Real Work! by The Marketing Nut

Pam Moore supplies 21 tips for keeping the “social” in social media marketing, developing “a plan that includes objectives, goals, and knowing your audience” without spending excessive time (though noting that sometimes such activity will necessarily take longer than you expect). Among her tips: “Use time blocks. If you struggle with controlling your time enjoyed (or wasted) on social media then set time blocks for engaging, writing blog posts and other tactics.”

14 Ways to Build Strategic Relationships With the Who’s Who of Social Media by Copyblogger

Tom Treanor shares 14 “secrets” to building relationships with industry influencers, though he acknowledges the simple truth that “Networking is 98% about being a nice person and having good manners.”

What exactly is a social graph? by Biznology

Writing that “one thing I don’t like (about social media) is that technical people like to make up new fancy words to describe what they make, even if no one knows what they mean,” Mike Moran explains in plain words what a social graph is and what its limitations are.

Social Media Metrics and ROI

101 Examples of Social Business ROI by Dachis Group

Despite the fact that “quantified results in social business and brands willing to stand behind them are difficult to find,” Peter Kim manages to compile a list of more than 100 real-life examples of social media ROI, such as Blendtec (“Viral videos increased company sales +700%”) and Epson (“Reviews drove 98% higher revenue per visitor for Epson”).

The Social Media Metrics That Truly Matter by iMedia Connection

Kent Lewis proposes a matrix model for identifying and monitoring meaningful metrics for your company, based on which platforms are most relevant to your target audience, your objectives and goals for each, and important secondary KPIs to consider.

The Real Secret To The ROI Of Social Media by Social Media Today

Koka Sexton explains why “The real ROI of social media is the moment you realize that you can’t stop the spreading of your content even if you tried. It would be like trying to unpull a trigger…ROI is most importantly the cultivation of relationships and capturing the positive word of mouth recommendations from your community. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”

CMOs Say Social Media Spending Will Surge 46% in the Next Year by Mack Collier

Mack reports that although spending on social media marketing is set for another year of strong growth, many companies still struggle to measure or prove the ROI, because, in Mack’s words, “shockingly, most customers don’t want to be marketing mouthpieces for brands.” Therefore, transferring traditional value measures from other media won’t work in social networks; that doesn’t mean ROI can’t be measured, it just can’t be measured using the same criteria.

Social Media Facts and Stats

Companies Struggle To Manage Social Media by MediaPost

Mark Walsh reports the findings of an Altimeter Groups study showing that “global corporations are now struggling to manage an average of 178 business-related social media accounts, spanning Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Foursquare, among others…Social media has often been harnessed haphazardly for marketing, sales, customer support and product development. While 70% of businesses said social media efforts met company objectives, only 43% had a formal strategy to address how social will meet specific business goals…(social media management is) exacerbated at a scale CMS didn’t have to deal with (as large) companies typically oversee 39 Twitter accounts, 32 blogs, 30 Facebook pages and 29 LinkedIn accounts.”

Social Media Jobs Salary Guide by Onward Search

Promising “a comprehensive look at the best US job markets, the most in-demand social media jobs, and the corresponding salary ranges for each profession,” this informative infographic reveals findings such as that Minneapolis ranks #13 in number of social media job postings (New York is #1), the highest salaries are generally paid in San Jose, and the most common position is content writer.

Digital Smackdown: “digital dinosaurs vs. digital natives” by Forbes

Reporting that “77% (of consumers) are more likely or much more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media to clearly define company values and leadership principles (and) 94% say C-suite social media participation enhances a brand image,” according to a recent Brandfog survey, Rhonda Hurwitz advises senior C-level executives to learn social media tools instead of over-delegating.

Search and Social

Using Social Buttons to Enhance Search Engine Optimization by Practical eCommerce

It’s no secret that social signals are playing an increasing role in search engine rankings, but Jill Kocher provides additional detail behind the trend and recommendations for how to capitalize on it.

Social Media Tools

New technologies to manage social by iMedia Connection

Josh Dreller lists almost 200 tools for every aspect of social media marketing from managing multiple social networks, managing Twitter and searching social networks to apps for social analytics, media relations and video/photo sharing.

YouTube Tips & Tactics

Set Up Your YouTube Channel for SEO Success by The YouMoz Blog

Pointing out that “YouTube is now the world’s second largest search engine,” Joel Chudleigh steps through the process of optimizing a YouTube channel for usability and findability, from properly setting up your profile and editing your channel to sharing videos through social networks and measuring results.

B2B And A Resistance To Video Marketing by B2Bbloggers

Observing that “B2B companies have long resisted video as a means of marketing, but that medium is gradually becoming more accepted,” Chris Peterson provides half a dozen valuable tips for technical optimization as well as four practical suggestions for producing effective, non-cheesy b2b videos.

Pinterest Tactics & Techniques

Why Pinterest Should Be of Interest to Brands by MarketingProfs

Amanda DiSilvestro explains how Pinerest works, how to get started with it, and four ways that brands can benefit from the visual social sharing site, including “Visibility and SEO: Every image that is pinned will include a link back to the website where it originated. This helps to spread the word about your company and what your company can offer” (in addition to building links, though these are now no-follow).

10 Tips for Pinterest Search Engine Optimization by ClickZ

Sage Lewis first explains why optimizing for Pinterest is important (e.g., to ” take up greater search engine results pages real estate) then provides 10 optimization tips such as posting original images, giving them search-friendly file names and using keywords in your description.

6 Compelling Reasons You Should Use Pinterest for Marketing by HubSpot

Claiming that Pinterest is “not ‘just another social media site.  This one is different. Pinterest is doing a great job of driving traffic, leads, and sales,” Jesica Meher outlines six benefits of Pinterest, from generating inbound links to integration with existing Twitter and Facebook accounts.

103 Resources For Becoming a Pinterest Expert by KISSmetrics

Zach Bulygo shares more than 100 tips for capitalizing on Pinterest, helpfully arranged in categories like Background and Basics, How-To Articles, Lessons to Learn, Marketing with Pinterest, and Similar Sites.

Why I’ve Resisted Pinterest by MediaPost

The brilliant Ryan DeShazer likely speaks for more marketers than he knows in this thoughtful essay outlining his personal and professional reasons for not yet jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon. Among his personal reasons: “#1 – My guy friends would make fun of me. I’m serious. You will never catch me at a dinner party commenting that, ‘I just pinned the most incredible thing today.’ #2 – This smells like social scrapbooking. I don’t scrapbook. My mother does.”

Tumblr and Google+ Tips & Tactics

How to (Properly) Use Tumblr to Market Your Brand by Search Engine Journal

Writing that “According to comScore’s State of the U.S. Social Network Market, Tumblr is one of the most consistently growing social networks out there…But this is not just about sheer number of visitors. The amount of time that visitors spend on Tumblr averages around 2.4 hours a month, making it only second to Facebook in terms of user engagement,” Neil Patel explains what Tumblr is, who uses it, how to get brand exposure there and how to use Tumblr to drive traffic to your other social media platforms.

10 Brands Who Stand Out on Google+ and How They Do It by GigCoin

The prolific Debbie Hemley showcases 10 major brands (including ESPN, Wired magazine, Starbucks, Pepsi and Android) that stand out from the crowd on Google+ and what makes each brand page remarkable.

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