Browsing articles by " Kaila Strong"

Optimizing Your Small Business Reputation Online

Jun 26, 2013   //   by Kaila Strong   //   Social Media  //  No Comments

reputation management

Making the most out of your small business reputation online involves many of the factors that build your brand to begin with. Using your reputation as leverage to push down negative results in search engines while at the same time increase sales, reduce costs, or build relationships can occur naturally as your company’s reputation grows. Simply put, there are five factors that will help you to optimize your company’s reputation online and help remedy any online reputation management issues.

Leverage Strategic Online Relationships

Keeping pace in today’s business environment demands that your company remain sharp in every area of business. However, in the real world there are simply too many aspects of business to be experts at everything. So, it’s a good idea for companies to establish and nurture strategic relationships with other experts. The strategic relationships may lead to outsourcing contracts or distribution points in the future. Healthy relationships with other experts and leaders in related fields may be the key to giving your company a friendly advantage. In addition, guest posting opportunities may arise to allow you to post content on their sites or vise versa – drawing in visitors as well as helping with SEO.

Make Quality Improvements

Prioritizing the bulk of your organization’s resources into one specific area can serve as the catalyst for a world of growth. Your organization needs to continue to perform its basic functions to a high standard in order to both build and benefit from its reputation. It is only right that your organization should be benefiting from your foundation work. However, being the best at what your company produces will solidify your place at the top of the industry and likely the top of the SERPs.

Eventually, other industry professionals will reference your work, link to you, and consider it the new standard. As an added bonus, focusing on your core competency amasses cost savings. The savings usually get noticed when a company is able to retain money that it would have otherwise spent on labor unrelated to their actual product or service.

reputation management 2Convert Social Media Leads into Sales

A study conducted by Hubspot showed that social media produces double the amount of leads as telemarketing, direct mail, or trade shows. Hubspot went on to report that companies with more 1000 Facebook likes also receive roughly 1,400 website visits per day. Those are powerful statistics once you consider the fact that leads generated through social media are 13% higher than average (HubSpot). Meanwhile, let’s not overlook the fact that access to the most popular social media platforms is free of cost. Social media is the greatest tool that we know of for capitalizing on a quality brand name.

From an SEO perspective, social media accounts can be a great way to claim your brand and push down branded results in search engines that may rise to the top that you don’t want to be there.

Leave an Impression on Your Core Consumer Online

Understanding your customers is essential for staying relevant. Today’s consumers need to be engaged quite often. During the course of interacting with your audience you will know if their needs are changing. Providing great customer service means being able to adapt to the ever changing need of your audience. In order for this to happen, your business needs to correspond with consumers frequently. Using a good resource such as Reputation.com can increase your online presence. The Reputation Facebook Page also provides regular updates that you can glean information from for future use.

Accessing your particular client base is likely to differ slightly from other businesses. Nonetheless, interacting with them on a consistent basis can help spread positive word of mouth marketing. Here are 3 tips for staying in tune with your core consumer base:
1.  Poll your customers to find out what they think
2.  Interpret your poll results in a way that helps you to understand their preferences.
3.  Place yourself in the shoes of your customers

Create an Online Public Relations Campaign

Public relations refers to the management of public attitudes. It is important to any company that the public receive them in a positive light. A bad public perception is a disaster in the making. Therefore, companies that want to have a good overall reputation need to put effort into positive public relations campaigns. Companies need to be able to provide consumers with a good image from unbiased sources. For this reason, public relations campaigns usually involve press releases and media news releases, which often rank very well in search engines. Public relations campaigns are also excellent ways to gain favor in the sight of your peers in business.

Look to utilize each of the above business reputation tips to help drive positive results to the top of search engines for branded terms as well as grow and maintain your existing business online.

Kaila Strong

Kaila Strong is an avid tweeter (@cliquekaila), and marketer in the Phoenix area.

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Inspiration for Online Marketing Success with Pinterest

May 9, 2012   //   by Kaila Strong   //   SEO Blog, Social Media  //  7 Comments

If you don’t know already, I’m obsessed with Pinterest. I use it a bit as a hobby but mostly I’m interested in browsing to see what others pin and how they organize their pins. There is so much valuable marketing inspiration contained on Pinterest, you just have to go out and find it.

Tomorrow I have a post going live on Search Engine Watch that discusses using Pinterest as a way to conduct market research. One of the things I share in the post that I discovered, is what a wealth of information you can glean to help you improve your website using Pinterest. In the end I think I’ve narrowed it down to 4 key areas in Pinterest that can help inspire a website owner.

Categories
The sheer nature of Pinterest is enough to inspire a bit of a website upgrade. The site is so clean, sleek and modern that it’s easy and simple to browse. Additionally, the site’s magazine type layout and heavy photo focus is what appeals to many.

Using the categories as well as search function on Pinterest, you can conduct a bit of research to see the images and items in your niche or industry that are popular. Whether it’s instructographics and how tos to infographics and photos of products, each of these image asset types can be developed and used on your site. Pinterest may inspire you to start a gallery on your website and add additional image assets throughout your site.

Boards
I love looking at how users pin images and organize their boards. The board names themselves are hilarious, creative and often interesting. As a website owner, you can use the boards of users pinning posts on your site to help you organize content better. Maybe several users have pinned products on your site and added them to a board called “Graduation party ideas”. If you don’t already have items categorized into a list that is easy to find on your site during graduation season then you should – and users have already done it for you. Check out that board and see what other products and items are there.

Boards can also help you to understand how a user might categorize pages on your site and products as well. Seeing this data may inspire you to set up split testing with different navigation pathways for visitors or organize content differently in the future.

Gifts

Many products are submitted to Pinterest and marketed by their owners. Often these are small business owners and they know a thing or two about marketing their products. Monitoring the Gifts section in Pinterest can give you ideas to improve the product offerings on your site and show you better ways to present your items.

If you carry an item that many others carry in order to be successful you need to make yourself stand out. Pinterest can help you to see what makes others stand out and eventually you may start to see a pattern in the information, a display style and color combination that really seems to work all because you saw it on Pinterest.

Comments
While the platform isn’t heavily comment based, there are still a lot of comments to read through and glean information for your online marketing purposes. Many users simply repin or like but don’t comment, sowhen they do you should listen. Start monitoring what users pin on your site, by going to pinterest.com/source/yourdomain.com, and see what they comment on their pins.

A pin that might say “this would go well with” something else, or “I like this but in a different color”, can be used to pair a product with something else or improve a product offering on your site. Additionally the comments may shed some light on other competitors. Users are often asking each other where to buy the item in the photo. Those with the inside track will give little known places to purchase the item. These sites might be your competitors and are worthy of investigation.

Pinterest can be used for so many things, inspiration for your website is just one of them. How are you finding inspiration on Pinterest? Share your experiences in the comments below.

Kaila Strong

Kaila Strong is an avid tweeter (@cliquekaila), and marketer in the Phoenix area.

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Google Webmaster Tools You Should Use Today

Apr 25, 2012   //   by Kaila Strong   //   SEO, SEO Blog  //  12 Comments

Whether you have a large site or a very small site, having a Google Webmaster Tool account set up is essential. In GWT webmasters can see the inner workings of a website as it relates to Google. That information can be extremely valuable when evaluating your sites performance and tailoring your efforts to achieve your goals faster.

Crawl Errors
In GWT users can see what errors were encountered by the Googlebot when crawling and indexing your site. Errors with crawling sitemaps, HTTP errors, pages not found or broken links, URLs not followed, URLs restricted by robots.txt, URLs that take too much time to load, and pages that are unreachable can be seen in the “Crawl Errors” section of GWT. This information is extremely helpful if you have a large site to manage.

Errors may indicate an issue with innumerable items on your site. Each error should be examined in detail by an expert to determine its accuracy. Servers can often act strangely and not perform correctly for search engines. Some have even found Googlebot has crashed their sites, but offer solutions in many posts available online. Look at the error reports and determine the cause. Attempt to fix the issues you find because a site that can be crawled without error is certainly a good thing.

Meta Descriptions & Title Tags
I find the meta descriptions and title tags section to be very useful in GWT. Duplicate pages are shown in this section and errors with title tags or descriptions are shown as well. Any duplicates should be examined for accuracy. Inaccurate data should be further researched as it may showcase an issue.

For example, I’ve seen sites that showed thousands of duplicated meta titles and descriptions but the duplicated pages weren’t suppose to be seen. They had 301 redirects in place but Googlebot was still finding the content. These errors in GWT notified us of an issue which required additional research. In the end the issue led us back to their website’s load balancers and cache server settings. GWT can hold valuable information so make a point to examine this particular area often.

Search Queries
Find the top queries and top pages drawing in the most impressions and clicks on Google. With the limited data available in Google Analytics due to encrypted search, users can use GWT to see additional data as it relates to specific queries. Average position of a search query is available in this section along with percent increase and decrease over the course of a set period. A little over 30 days of data is available at a time and is available for download on demand.

Some webmasters have discovered their sites were hacked by examining this section in GWT. Search queries that contain pornographic terms, drug terms, or gambling terms are obvious signs you have an issue in the innermost workings of your site.

+1 Metrics
While the effect and popularity of Google + is still being determined, I’ve started to examine the +1 Metrics section of GWT to see if I can start to discern any patterns or growth. For certain sites with a high tech male demographic, Google + is performing quite well. GWT will show you +1 annotated impressions, CTR without +1 and CTR with +1.

Activity and audience data is also available, so you can see popular posts as they get +1s and grow over time. As the site grows in popularity, examination of this data will be important to your efforts with content marketing and social media marketing. Have a post that is seeing a decline? Repromote on Google+ and push renewed strength into the content piece. There are many ways you can use the data, the first step is actually looking.

These are just a few of the ways I use Google Webmaster Tools to help examine issues with a site and stay on top of all the moving parts involved in managing a website for search.

How do you use GWT to help you with your website? Share with us in the comments below. 

Kaila Strong

Kaila Strong is an avid tweeter (@cliquekaila), and marketer in the Phoenix area.

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6 Tips: Diversifying Anchor Text

Apr 18, 2012   //   by Kaila Strong   //   SEO, SEO Blog  //  15 Comments

Do you vary your anchor text? Surprisingly, many individuals that do their own SEO and link building activities don’t diversify anchor text enough. Today, over use of your keywords can lead to some pretty severe consequences – penalties, ranking drops and traffic decreases.

Luckily, there are easy ways to combat the issue of over optimized anchor text. Diversifying the keywords pointing to your domain is the best way to avoid this issue. Here are 6 tips to help you understand your options when diversifying anchor text.

Branded Anchor Text

The easiest way to start diversifying your anchor text is to use your brand as the keyword phrase. For large brands, the anchor text most often used when linking to their sites is their brand name already.

Use a tool like Open Site Explorer to examine your backlinks. Use their distribution of anchor text tab to help you see what keywords are being used most often. How often is your brand name used, or variations of your brand name? Keep an eye on the keyword variations showing up in your backlinks and actively pursue opportunities that will allow you to link to your site using your brand name: social profiles, directories, guest blogging, etc…

Misspelling

It’s natural to see keywords misspelled or used incorrectly. This is true too, of your backlinks. Purposely misspell and use keywords incorrectly every now and again. Sure, it’s not a best practice always but when you’re trying to find ideas on how to diversify your backlinks – this is an option.

Natural Unoptimized Terms

Do you know who ranks #1 for “click here”? Adobe of course! Think about it – many sites link to Adobe for their Acrobat Reader. “Click here”, “Download”, etc… are all anchor texts that are used. While this is an extreme case, it certainly can be a good lesson. Natural anchor text is sometimes not keyword oriented but action oriented. Build a few links to your domain using natural and unoptimized anchor text.

Long Tail Anchor Text

Another option you have when diversifying anchor text is to use a long tail term to hyperlink. Having a long tail SEO strategy is always a good idea, as long tail terms can over time draw in the targeted traffic you’re looking for. Try using a question or a quote as the anchor text or look for specific long tail phrases using keyword research that have some search volume.

URL as Anchor Text

Using your URL as your anchor text is an option. Sites that allow you to have a company profile often link to you using just the URL as the anchor text. Seek out these opportunities and try placing not just your homepage as the URL. Look to place internal page URLs as the anchor text as well.

Synonyms

Last but certainly not least, your option to vary anchor text may come down to identifying other similar keywords. Use a Thesaurus to help you come up with synonyms that will still apply to the keywords you wish to focus, but help in diversifying exact match anchor text. You may even find some of the keywords convert better than the broad match terms you’ve always tried to focus on.

Do you have tips to help users diversify anchor text? Tell us in the comments below!

Kaila Strong

Kaila Strong is an avid tweeter (@cliquekaila), and marketer in the Phoenix area.

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Using Facebook Interest Lists to Market Your Brand

Apr 11, 2012   //   by Kaila Strong   //   SEO Blog, Social Media  //  6 Comments

During the most recent updates to Facebook, users were presented with Interest Lists as a way to help better organize the content they digest from Facebook connections. Users are encouraged to organize their interest lists and customize them according to the topics that they enjoy seeing status updates about. If you’re active on Facebook, then you know what a fire hose of information it can be. Interest lists help you to lessen the fire hose affect and allow you to better organize your interests in a way for easy digesting.

The new add interests button is located on the left navigation bar. Clicking the button will take you to a list of hundreds of existing interest lists that you can subscribe to. Additionally, you can add your own and others can subscribe as well. The concept is very similar to Twitter lists, where you don’t need to follow or “like” a page in order to add it to a list. Lists are completely customizable including the name of the list.

As marketers we can utilize this new tool in our arsenal in many ways to attract new subscribers. Brands can receive much more exposure with interest lists. Here are 4 key ways your brand can start using Facebook interest lists to market to new customers.

Unique Content

Does your brand provide sought out information on the internet on a very niche topic? If you strike while the iron is hot and while interest lists are still new, you can take advantage and start gaining exposure now. Topics and content that are unique will do well with interest lists, so start thinking about ways you can attract users who are interested in your industry with unique content.

Focus Locallly

Use Facebook lists to attract a local following. Create local lists organized by theme that you think will receive some traction. Your brand will receive much more exposure if you’re on the list not to mention the fact that you created it. Start thinking about ways to incorporate a local component into at least a few interest lists. Add a list of local green businesses, things to do in your area, influential people to follow, internet rockstars in your area, anything that will help you organize local content in a way that is appealing to subscribers.

Promote Your List

Look to promote your interest list in several ways. Invite friends and fans to subscribe. Promote it as a status message  not just on Facebook but try cross promoting it as well. Help users gain awareness about your list by driving traffic to your list and telling others about it. Encourage users to share the list and ask for users suggestions on additions. If your list becomes very popular, you may ask for suggestions to make additions to the list consistently over time. Think about all the ways you can promote your Facebook interest list and start incorporating it into your marketing initiatives.

Create Exclusive Lists

Use an exclusive interest list to capture your fans attention. Create a super cool, interesting and unique interest list and market it to your fans. Make it private so users can only be invited. Provide information that is for fans only in your private interest list to encourage subscriptions. Promote this exclusive list to capture the attention of new users as well.

Using Facebook interest lists to market your brand is just another tool in your arsenal. Use the above tips to help you utilize Facebook interest lists for your brand today. While adoption of new changes on Facebook can be slow, interest lists are one to pay attention to and take advantage of while they’re still new.

Have you started using Facebook interest lists? What potential do you see here for marketing your brand? 

 

Kaila Strong

Kaila Strong is an avid tweeter (@cliquekaila), and marketer in the Phoenix area.

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Getting to Know Search Operators

Apr 4, 2012   //   by Kaila Strong   //   SEO, SEO Blog  //  2 Comments

Are you an expert researcher online? The average online user over time has become better and better at finding the things they need online. The use of advanced search operators is commonplace. While search engines work to combat spam everyday, there are still many sites you wish to avoid in your search. Advanced search commands can help you sift through billions of websites quickly and easily by narrowing down your search with operators or commands.

There are many options when it comes to advanced search commands. One of the more common commands is phrase search operator (“”). When you put quotes around a keyword or phrase, you’re telling the search engine to look for that exact match phrase online. They’ll serve up results with that exact phrase, or tell you that none exist. I use this one all the time when doing link building activities or trying to find out the name of the song stuck in my head at any given time. When you only know bits and pieces of the information you’re looking for use this operator to narrow down your search.

Don’t want to see a result in the SERPs? Use the exclude search operator (-). Exclude words from your search and websites too. Example: Command -.edu will take out all instances of .edu domains in your results. You’re also able to exclude specific domains simply by putting that web address after the operator.

Use what Google calls the fill in the blank search operator (*) if you’re really in need of finding a great site. This operator is a wildcard, or placeholder, for a term that you aren’t aware of. Additionally you can use this operator to find other websites on the same type of topic. Google gives this example query: Obama voted * on the * bill. The query will show results on different votes for different bills, with the unknown being a placeholder for what you want to include.

Trying to find a similar set of URLs but not on the same domain? Use (inurl) search operator and you’ll find similar keywords in a file path. Many webmasters name pages similarly – contact us, about us, blog, etc… Use command (inurl:resources) along with your query to find a list of resource pages. This is one I’ve used to find link opportunities or even content opportunities. Find a great resource list? What type of content is linked to? Create that type of content and ask the site to add you to their resources list.

Sometimes you might be looking for keywords that appear in the title of the page. Use (intitle) search operator. Using this type of search command is common in advanced SEO research. Looking for sites with specific keywords that appear in their backlinks is also a common advanced tactic. Use (inanchor) search operator.

Know the file type of the page you’re looking for? Use (filetype) search operator. For example, if you were looking for PDFs you’d want to use filetype:pdf as your search operator. What types of pdfs are on your competitors website? Find out and get ideas for your next whitepaper or free guide.

These are just a few of the many search operators currently in practice. Not only can many of them be used on search engines you’d usually think of like Google and Bing, they can also be used in Twitter search. See a tweet go by and then not know where it went? I do this all the time because of the Twitter fire hose effect. But with search commands I can find the tweet pretty easily using bits and pieces of information.

These are just a few of the search commands available for you to use. Many more resources exist that give examples and practical application for each of the commands listed above as well as new ones to try out. Please visit the below resources for additional information on search commands.

Additional Resources

Google Search Help

Guide to Bing Query Language

The Professionals Guide to Advanced Search Operators

Finding Link Building Opportunities With Advanced Search Queries

4 Advanced Search Commands for Smart Webmasters

Search Features Chart

Have additional resources we should add to the list? Let us know! 

Kaila Strong

Kaila Strong is an avid tweeter (@cliquekaila), and marketer in the Phoenix area.

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Testing Your Message is Easier with Facebook Timeline

Mar 28, 2012   //   by Kaila Strong   //   SEO Blog, Social Media  //  5 Comments

Do you know what type of messaging strategy works best on your Facebook Page? Most Page administrators might look at Facebook Insights every so often and may drill down to the per message detail to get their answers. Unfortunately, this isn’t enough to truly measure the effectiveness of your messaging strategy. Some element of test and target must be done, in my opinion, to effectively measure how well your messages are really doing.

Unfortunately, with Facebook it’s pretty much impossible to set up split testing and if you’re thinking about multivariate testing… then forget about it. That is, not in the traditional sense anyways. As an administrator of a page you have the ability to control certain things on your wall. Targeting messages to certain fans and not others, hiding messages from fans, testing message type or time of day, etc… all possibilities on Facebook.

When you drive traffic to your wall whether it’s through ads or referral traffic from other sources like TV or radio ads, testing can be made easier. You can control traffic a bit easier, allowing you to manually perform a split test. Whats the first message going to be that they see on your wall? This is all the more important with Facebook Timeline. No more landing pages! Figure out which message strategy is the most effective for your goals to maximize the traffic going to your wall. Without the call to action of a landing page, or the lure of additional content, coupon, etc… you very well could be less effective at getting your brand noticed, “Like”d, and shared.

With Facebook Timeline, testing the waters with different messaging strategies just got a bit easier. The ability to pin and star posts allows administrators of a page to dictate the effective size and placement of status messages – well the important ones anyways. Use this feature to test out your messages as well as provide a solution to that pesky no default landing page option.

Example of a pinned post.

Pinning a post will place that status message at the top of your wall for 7 days. You can choose to take it down sooner than 7, but the post cannot stay up longer than 7 days. The key here is that you’re able to control one of the first places your visitors land now: the top of your page.

Pin a post for a promotion you’re doing, but hide one message and switch out with another to test new traffic coming in from an ad you’re running elsewhere. Pin a similar post to the top of your page consistently for several days to test the content types effectiveness or the time of day. Depending on your data size (fan count), it can take quite a while to start seeing trends.

Starring a post expands the post to fit a larger area on your wall. This is great for status messages that contain preview images or are themselves images. This feature in essence calls out the status message and highlights it to your fans when viewing your wall. Use this feature to test out content types and time of day as well.

To me there seem to be a lot of potential options for this type of testing on Facebook. What type of messaging test and targeting would you like to do on your page? Tell us in the comments below!

Interested in learning more about the new Facebook Timeline and how it affects your Page? Attend my webinar on April 12th – register here: bit.ly/AprWebinar

Kaila Strong

Kaila Strong is an avid tweeter (@cliquekaila), and marketer in the Phoenix area.

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4 T’s to Help Improve Your Facebook Marketing Strategy

Mar 21, 2012   //   by Kaila Strong   //   SEO Blog, Social Media  //  10 Comments

You’ve seen the Facebook stats: 845 million active users (161 million active US users), 2.7B daily likes, 60% of all internet users in the US and UK are on Facebook, and 2 billion total registered users. The social media site we’ve been use to for the past 5+ years has grown and evolved – and your marketing strategy should as well.

Improving your Facebook marketing strategy over time requires a bit of trial and error. Heavy testing is involved and is my – 1st T: TEST. If you aren’t testing now, you’re missing out. Having your social media team utilize Facebook Insights is crucial to your success. Test and monitor your messaging strategy in the following ways:

  • Time & date of successful status message updates
  • Type of content and it’s success – pictures, video, etc…
  • Trends in weekly total reach – look for cyclical patterns and spikes
  • Friends of fans count – look for spikes to help you determine your most influential fans
  • # of engaged users and reach per message

There are key sets of data you can obtain by testing, as you can see above. Utilize this information to target your messaging in a better way to your audience – T #2: TARGET. It makes sense that messaging strategies that target your demographic are going to be the most successful, but surprisingly many Facebook admins update their status messages ‘willy-nilly’, often forgetting who their real target market is.

With T #1: TEST, you’ll get a good idea of how your current fans engage with your page. Use this information to target your messages. Do Q&A type of posts work better? This type of messaging, when asking the right questions, can target users in certain buying cycles and help push them over the edge to make purchases. Is more engagement on posts targeted to a certain type of fan? Status messages catering to a female demographic, if you have more female fans than male, can produce higher engagement scores. Do you have a lot of international fans? Page admins can target messaging by location or language. Look at the data and target – enuf said!

And on to – T #3: TAG. It’s surprising to me how few brands actually use tagging. This is one of the best features on Facebook that allows you to cross promote your page and engage as a brand with other pages. Start using tagging in status message updates to highlight business partnerships, give shoutouts to employees, highlight an awesome charity or shed light on a new cause. Start using tagging to engage with other pages and you’ll find the fans of those pages will slowly follow.

Something else to remember when using Facebook to market your business is – T #4: TRENDS.  I use Facebook both personally and professionally, so it seems I’m logged in quite a bit. Over time you start to notice trends in the messages of your friends. Whether it’s things they’re talking about, types of questions they’re asking, events they’re reporting about or even content they’re sharing – these are all opportunities as marketers to get great ideas for your business page.

For example, the “meme” trend and caption photos are pretty hot right now on Facebook. As a business page you can utilize this trend and make your own memes or caption photos. If you weren’t following the trends, however, you may have missed this type of messaging on Facebook. The “Doppelgänger” fad from a few years ago is another example. Using these trending topics to engage with your users can help improve engagement and the effectiveness of your efforts.

Well there you have it, the 4 T’s to help improve your Facebook marketing strategy. Can you think of a few more T’s to add to the list?

Kaila Strong

Kaila Strong is an avid tweeter (@cliquekaila), and marketer in the Phoenix area.

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Are You Sure Your Customers Are Social?

Mar 14, 2012   //   by Kaila Strong   //   SEO Blog, Social Media  //  2 Comments

How much do your customers really use social media? This seems to be a question that’s asked often and answered often. You might ask this question if you’re just starting out in a new industry or maybe you’ve been in your industry a while but just don’t have a clue where to start online. Lack of knowledge, disconnect with data and not knowing who your customers are can cause issues when trying to figure out how social your customers are.

The first step in figuring out how social your customers are is research. Turn your lack of knowledge into expertise just by putting in the research. Conduct social listening exercises across multiple platforms to get started. Here are some suggested social listening exercises to help you gain the social insight you need into your industry.

Site Search

Monitor the large social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and even MySpace. Use the search functionalities of each of these sites. Search for keywords related to your products or services. Who is talking about your products and services? Are any of these users very influential – you can figure this out by going to their profile and looking at how many friends they have and how active they are.

Additionally, try typing in frequently asked questions into the search bar. Are there users asking those questions? Make note of how regularly messages are sent out and/or responded to. This can help you figure out how social your customers are too.

Competitors

Search for competitors brand pages. You can gain a lot of insight by seeing just how other brands are using social media. How active are their fans? Do fans comment, “like”, “share” and post regularly? Do they foster a sense of community on their pages? Make note of how your competitors are using social media marketing.

Forums

Use a search engine to find discussion boards and forums. How regularly are people posting, answering and sharing? The conversations in forums and on discussion boards can show you how often your customers feel compelled to post about industry related topics.

Blogs & Industry News

Use a search engine to find industry blogs and websites. Does the site allow contributors? How many bloggers write for the site and how active are they on social media? Make note of how regularly posts are updated, commented on and responded to. This can help you see exact how social your customers are.

With each of the listening exercises above you’ll gain great insight into the social activities of your prospects. In addition to the research you put forth through social listening, try looking at studies put together by by Forrester, Marketing Hub, Pingdom, and others. Some of these studies will help you identify how social certain demographic groups are.

Additionally, you can get insider tips from people within your own industry. Search Google for articles about marketing to your industry through social media. Or follow experts like Jay Baer who wrote this great blog post, “4 Detective Tricks to Find Your Customers in Social Media”.

Hopefully after a few of these exercises you’ll start to get a better grip on exactly how social your customers are. Don’t forget to go back and conduct these exercises often – the social activities of your customers change over time.

What sites do you currently use to conduct social listening?

Kaila Strong

Kaila Strong is an avid tweeter (@cliquekaila), and marketer in the Phoenix area.

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4 Tips to Improve Your Social Media Calendar

Mar 1, 2012   //   by Kaila Strong   //   SEO Blog, Social Media  //  2 Comments

Are you using a social media calendar to keep you organized? Many experts suggest utilizing a social media calendar to make your time more efficient and to keep things consistent. Similar to an editorial calendar, a social media calendar lays out a rough sketch of what your week, month and sometimes year will look like as far as messaging and interaction through social channels goes. Lisa Buyer gives a great overview of what a social media calendar is on SearchEngineWatch.com if you’re interested in learning more.

In addition to Lisa’s great suggestions I wanted to share a few tips of my own to help you improve efficiency and consistency. Here are four of them:

Be Consistent and Use Data

When many people are responsible for monitoring and responding via social channels for a brand, consistency can sometimes fall to the way side. Look back at your own brand’s messages from the last month. Is there consistency, relevancy and organization? Even the most well thought out social media plans can get misaligned.

Examine the messages you and your team sent out in the past month and look for consistency. Make changes to your processes and add information to your social media calendar to help with consistency as needed. Pre-populated messages or a bank of messages can at times aid in keeping things consistent. Tweets and posts about holidays, days of remembrance, for special promotions you know about in advance, to re-promote website content or even in response to commonly asked questions are great ideas for a bank of messages. These evergreen social messages can be used and improved to fit the need at the time.

I often look at the past month’s messages at a whole when I’m preparing a month end report  and analyzing any of the data available to me: website analytics, Facebook Insights, click through rates via bit.ly, social search numbers from sites like Topsy, etc… Looking at both of these areas will help you to identify gaps in consistency as well as gaps in strategy or messaging style. Overtime you’ll be able to compare this information month over month and year over year to see trends. What messaging style is working and which isn’t? What time of day and time is best? This information can be added to your social media calendar.

Avoid the Social Media Time Suck & Use Tools To Help You

Inevitably social media can be a huge time suck. When you’re looking at data, examining messaging, engaging with customers or prospects…the hours just fly by. That’s why it’s important to keep yourself on track and avoid interruptions when working on specific tasks. Close your e-mail, avoid distractions at the office and stay aware of the time.

Just being aware can help you to be more efficient. Add estimated time for tasks into your social media calendar. Gauge consistency of time with your teams work. When it comes down to asking if there is return on this social media investment, you’ll at the very least have some raw data to work with that shows the effort put forth. Additionally, if you’re managing a team you can instruct changes to processes.

Last but certainly not least, my suggestion to you is: use tools! If you aren’t already using a few tools in your social media arsenal then you should start. I’m a huge fan of Hootsuite and enjoy their pro account platform – to me it’s worth the spend. Monitoring keywords, mentions and scheduling tweets on occasion (yes I admit I do this) are just a few ways the platform can help. Additionally Tweetdeck and Seesmic are platforms commonly suggested.

A tool that can be used to help with your social media calendar is suggested for users who are on social media to promote their blogs. If you have a WordPress website you can add the Editorial Calendar for WordPress plugin. Here a writer discusses how using this type of plugin can help improve efficiencies.

Do you have additional tips to help improve a social media calendar? 

 

Kaila Strong

Kaila Strong is an avid tweeter (@cliquekaila), and marketer in the Phoenix area.

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