So Know That You’ve Liked Me – Are You Going to Buy Something???

Now that your business is branching out and reaching fans through social media. How do you keep these users coming back to your site and interacting/purchasing over and over again from these sites?? Through these new advertising channels, you are now tasked with turning these first-time purchasers into advocates of your brand. A pretty cool article from eMarketer on How Marketers Can Keep Brand Fans on Board tackles this dilemma.

What are users looking for and what keeps users around?

Users are still drawn the most by incentives – although new-media users expect deals, these users also search for brands to help solve their problems and get their feedback on products and services – this will help make a larger connection with online users and shoppers.

Marketer Beware: What can lose a user’s interest and loyalty?

The top three reasons users stopped following a brand?:

  1. The brand sent too many messages
  2. The brand acted irresponsibly
  3. Content was irrelevant

The Magic Recipe: Keeping Users A Returning Consumer and Raving Fan:

There is a fine balance in what we see above to gain return visits and create fans on our clients’ brand – too little communication won’t help engagement, but too much communication where it seems impersonal or off-base will lose a user’s loyalty.  It is up to your marketing team to ensure online new media users are served with balanced, targeted information that keeps them returning for more and spreads positive feedback through online communities.

You Have a Rep Online – Make Sure You Manage It!

“How Business Can Get Proactive About Managing Their Online Reputation” is a great article which provides some great tips in managing a company’s online reputation and how to utilize social networks to broadcast their brand.

First, “reputation is, essentially, what others say about you. And for years, reputation was mostly shaped and influenced by word of mouth and through advertising in yellow pages, broadcast and print media, and direct mail.”

This form of reputation is based off of a traditional model and as we all know this has now changed and many users now can review a range of products and services and even comment about their experience for other users to read via the web making online reputation a must for companies to ensure they stay in business.

The main and most important factor businesses need to do is create and maintain proactive online strategies for managing reputation.

Now in order to do this here are a few steps/tips businesses should consider when thinking about entering this new realm to stay ahead of their competition:

  1. Ensure your business is properly represented on local business listing websites. One of the simplest ways to guarantee a consumer can find your business is to create profiles on top local business listing sites, such as Yelp, Citysearch, Google Places, and  Business can also consider a new wave of local search via Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places.  These offerings are the best way for businesses to easily add or update their company information, ways to be reached, and different product/ service offerings.  Since these types of sites see high online search visibility it’s worth the extra work!
  2. Launch a website that demonstrates that you run a high-quality business. Now this one can be a bit tricky since some business owners might think they already have a great website that portrays this image however, it’s more important now than ever for a local business to have a great website that establishes the company as a reliable, trusted operation and that’s packed with information consumers need to make a purchase. Beyond including the basics like a business address and phone number, a website needs to be visually-appealing, well-written, interactive and constantly updated to give consumers positive, lasting impressions about the company.  What you have to remember is your website is your public face.
  3. Leverage social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  “In addition to a website, businesses should create a social media presence that will allow the company to engage in online conversation related to its brand and industry as a whole. Facebook and Twitter—both free to setup and use—allow businesses to convey their own voice, express thought-leadership in their area of expertise, talk one-on-one with customers and promote and defend themselves when necessary.”  In addition, Youtube also allows businesses a chance to connect with consumers visually and show off their offerings in a more personable way.
  4. Monitor and influence the online conversation about your business. Monitoring ensures that no alarming customer complaints or charges are posted about the business, and if there are, that the business quickly identifies the customer, responds and mitigates the customer’s concerns. It pays to know what others are saying about you.  These days, consumers are using local search and social networking sites more than ever when deciding whether or not to move forward with a purchase, and a negative review—no matter how small, or even how long ago it was posted—can easily influence them. Additionally, rating systems on review sites can have a negative impact not only on a business’ reputation, but where the business shows up in search.

Businesses which handle online customer complaints well can quickly regain the respect of angry or frustrated customers, as well as the admiration of others watching the exchange.

As you can tell, managing a local business’ online reputation requires a firm, long-term commitment, but it’s also necessary in today’s increasingly digital world. To attract the customers you want to make your business grow, businesses need to take action to create online presences that are accurate, engaging and responsive to consumers’ needs.

Facebook, Your Location and your Deals

As we all know Facebook launched Places in August as the long-awaited location-sharing feature on Facebook to combat with foursquare and Gowalla and other location sharing services.

In an article Facebook Gets Serious about Location with Deals Noah Elkin talks about what Facebook needs to do to make this feature more appealing.

When Facebook launched Places they thought that it would bring an early death to Foursquare, however, since the launch of Places, Foursquare’s user base continued to surge, growing from 2.6 million on August 12th to 4 million on October 21st.

Looks like Facebook underestimated its opponent.  I have yet to adopt this new feature and I have heard very little about my friends using it.  This could be because of the lack of compelling features, such as game dynamics, that provide an edge for foursquare. Based on a recent calculations by Silicon Alley Insider (SAI), a large number of people (a reported 30 million) have tried Places, but more people check in on foursquare on a more regular basis.

So what is Facebook to do if they plan to grow Places?  Well yesterday Facebook launched its Deals program and they suspect the answer is commerce.

With the new Deals program Facebook has the opportunity to reap the success of group-buying services such as Groupon.  Deals is launching with 22 national brands including, Gap, H&M, McDonald’s, Chipotle, and Macy’s, proves that Facebook is serious in playing in this game.

Now with over 200 million mobile app users Facebook has a real opportunity to make a significant impact in the marketplace.  It could also offer a big boost to mobile-assisted commerce and make mobile not only a more viable but also more necessary channel for reaching consumers.

I may just have to check it out myself.

Will 2011 be AOL’s Year?

In a recent Advertising Age article, “AOL’s Attempt to Spruce Up Its Sites Washes Away Ad Revenue,” Edmund Lee explains how AOL’s CEO, Tim Armstrong, has been consistently emphasizing his message of: “It’s going to get worse before it gets better” in efforts of creating turnaround for AOL. Most of these efforts are focused on strengthening the “user experience” by reducing the amount of ads, increasing the quality of content, and slashing operating costs. However, lowering these costs has also had the effect of lowering incomes.

Jeff Levick, President of Global Advertising and Strategy, continues to explain that “We cleaned up the user experience. By removing the number of units, we’ve seen higher engagement of advertising across our pages. That is the strategy.”

Armstrong is not expecting any significant changes over the next quarter, but is hopeful for the second half in 2011. Specifically, Armstrong is strategizing to buy more content verticals that will prove profitable, especially video; and to “lock down AOL’s 2011 advertising pipeline.”

Do y’all think AOL will really be able to resurface in 2011?

HTML 5 and SEO

HTML and SEO not automatically two things that you think about together , but certainly two things that you should start to think of as more interconnected.

The web is built from semantics. This means that websites are, you guessed it – built off semantics.

Here is a brief article about HTML and it’s effect on SEO’s future. Great article that is straightforward.

I’d like to add a few more things:

  • – HTML 5 has a XML like syntax. This structure could make search engine friendliness easier than ever. Think about this one for a bit. Are you familiar with sitemaps? They are built off XML (collective ah-ha)
  • – There is a new Header tag, semantically (There’s that word again!) equivalent to a H1, which could contain big blocks of texts. In this header tag, you can have H1, H2, H3 elements, paragraphs, hard-coded links (WIN!)
  • – The new section element, “article,” to me seems like a no brainer. A tag that will actually HELP make Google more aware of the content on your page!

-TJ Walsh

Blekko – Will it Beat Google?

Many companies have tried to compete with Google in attempts to create a more effective search engine, but have nevertheless failed.

The most recent attempts at conquering Google is a new search engine called Blekko, which opened today to the public.

In a recent New York Times article, “A New Search Engine, Where Less Is More,” Blekko’s chief executive Rich Skrento, reports that “since Google started, the Web has been overrun by unhelpful sites full of links and keywords that push them to the top of Google’s search results but offer little relevant information.” Skrento continues by noting that Blekko’s main goal is to provide users with trustworthy and relevant sites and ultimately to “clean up Web search and get all the spam out of it.”

Blekko searches through over three billion Web pages, but only shows the very top results on specific topics. Essentially, Blekko provides an edited list of the most relevant Web sites. Users can use “slashtags” to search for their desired topic, such as “Kindle/Amazon,” which will search for Kindle on Users can make their own slashtags and edit others, on top of Blekko providing hundreds of these tags as well.

But, my question is will people who are Google-loyal really switch over to a new search engine because it claims to provide more relevant search results? Reportedly, two-thirds of search queries in the US are conducted by Google. Also, Blekko plans to sell similar search ads to Google that are linked with slashtags and keywords.

Perhaps Blekko will not be a complete flop like so many other search engine attempts, but some claim that it has no chance in being the “Google killer.”