A Recipe for Sweetening Negative Reviews

The Real Deal with Bob Kehoe

For consumers, the Internet has proven to be a valuable tool when it comes to making sound purchases or investments. That’s why online reputation management has become so essential.

These days, you can do your homework and find reviews of pretty much any product or service and, for many perspective buyers, doing his or her homework online before picking up the phone or making a purchase is nowadays imperative.

Businesses subject to the consumer’s two cents, though, may not be so appreciative of this. And occasionally, their attempts to fan the critical or negative flames on their own can make matters worse.

Case in point: a friend of mine is a chef who, despite an impressive CV and years of work and smarts under her belt, had to take work at a small catering company a few years back at the height of the recession. To get a sense of what she was getting into, she perused a few popular sites that specialized in restaurant and food service reviews and came across a range of responses to the outfit that were, as she described it, “all over the map.” Given the economic climate, though, she took the job.

Over the next few months, my friend monitored the websites and noticed something curious: if any reviews posted that expressed even the slightest dissatisfaction with their services, a post would quickly pop up praising the company and including counterpoints to the original, critical post.

Even more curious: the complimentary posts praised the catering company for fictitious work. These hijinks were easily traced to the owner, who was also in charge of sales and whose reputation for being difficult to her clientele and employees proved to be well-founded. The occasional critical posters also weren’t spared an ounce of her wrath, as the posts between the critical client and owner turned into full-on pissing wars on a few occasions — not everyone can successfully handle review management.

 

Respond to Negative Reviews with Dignity

Whether or not consumer critiques are posted in earnest or with ulterior motives is beside the point to business owners. They’re out there for others to read and consider, and the companies on the receiving end of the critical or negative reviews stand to lose potential business regardless of if the post is sincere or unfounded.

If inclined to respond to a negative review, the best approach is to take the high road.

Gauge which posts are the most logical to address: this is as important as how you will respond. Then address the critical post politely and sympathetically. Offer a sincere apology acknowledging the issue and offer a remedy to resolve the problem and/or offer a discount or other incentive to prompt return business. If the poster responds negatively, then let it go.

This can also reflect well on those considering doing business with your company: smart consumers are aware that not every customer will walk away completely enthralled with your operations, and mature, sympathetic responses on your part can actually make a good impression to readers vetting you out.

 

Getting Help with Online Reputation Management
While it’s wise for the business owner or manager to do their part in monitoring consumer websites and social media pages and responding to negative as well as positive comments, they can’t be expected to handle it all. Responding to all online reviews can be a daunting task, especially if your company has several locations or branches with their own Yelp or Google+ pages. That’s where Leverage comes to the rescue.

Through our online reputation management platform, we regularly seek out positive reviews of our clients’ products and services and make sure those are placed front and center on a variety of sites. We also identify and manage any negative reviews our clients may receive as soon as they receive them.

By executing this program, we expect our clients’ online rankings to improve, as will the volume of organic traffic and overall ratings. This program, as well as the approach to responding to unsatisfied customers or patrons as described above, is the better path to service-driven companies, including catering and food service operations.

Our chef friend’s tenure with this catering company was short, by the way: the owner may have made a point to write “praise” for her outfit online and defend anyone whose opinion was less than celebratory, but there were other things – notably her employees’ paychecks – that she’d forget to write.

CHEERS TO RETARGETING!

It’s funny how a couple casual cold ones with a friend can turn into fuel for this here blog.

A few Fridays ago, I met up with a pal for a pit stop close to the home front. Being a Friday afternoon, the corner pub was its usual busy self, but on this particular end-of-week stop, all eyes were on a table full of 20-somethings and early 30-somethings who, judging by the rowdy celebration (not to mention quantity of booze consumed), were celebrating landing a big client or account.

Anyone whose livelihood is tied to sales should be able to identify with these guys. The crushing hangover that had to follow that Saturday morning, though, is optional.

The importance pretty much any company puts on new business is immeasurable, from the CFO making sense out of spreadsheets and percentages to the corporate salesperson whose fate lies in those numbers their bosses are looking over. New business is paramount, putting it mildly, to companies of all sizes, shapes and forms.

Leverage is hardly immune to this mindset. Like any business of any size, our annual goal isn’t solely to keep the lights on and our staff paid: we want to prosper and grow, both fiscally and in terms of innovation, at a steady clip. We are also elated when our hard work results in a new client and, on the other side of the coin, have been dealt our fair share of blows in terms of missed opportunities.

Yet to continue to thrive, we at Leverage are just as concerned about maintaining our relationships with the clients who have rewarded us with their business. That means continuous evolution of their online marketing strategies, with the end result being further success – and profit – in their online endeavors as well as continued satisfaction with our work.

For our clients, this means retaining their customers or clients. Once they have established their relationships with their base, continuing and expanding upon those relations is crucial.  While this is a long-term and continuously evolving process for all parties involved, the cost to our clients to retarget their customers is, compared to the cost of establishing the relationship in the beginning, much lower, and the practice is as, if not, more rewarding long-term than bringing them into the fold the first time. We all know how significant the lifetime value of a client is. Retargeting keeps customers in the loop and makes the rewards of customer lifetime value a reality.

Retargeting generally produces between 25%-40% more in sales revenue than targeting new clients

There are many approaches to site retargeting for an online client base, but three proven methods immediately come to mind:

  • Using marketing automation to trigger customized e-mail retargeting based on the browsing and purchasing behavior of customers.
  • Using paid search to retarget current customers with ads based on items they have viewed.
  • Using an e-mail database to trigger ads in social media news feeds based on the clients’ interests.
  • Remarketing solutions generally produces between 25%-40% more sales revenue than targeting new clients.

To me, the ability to be a company that continues to dazzle our clients by retargeting their proven customers with unique and profitable solutions is as satisfying and worth celebrating – be it with a Budweiser, bourbon or Barq’s root beer in hand – as that first success. First time clients are exciting, but repeat customers are what keep you in business. Are you ready to start reaching out to your customers? Contact us today for a FREE evaluation on your digital marketing strategy and learn how retargeting can benefit your business!

Digital Marketing or Marketing in a Digital World?

The shift is coming and most of us already know it. The Don Draper dinosaur is extinct. Not only has most of advertising become digital, but the majority of marketing departments will also be digitally-focused. Let’s reflect on all the old mediums of advertising: radio, TV, and snail mail. All of these things are now functioning digitally through podcasts, Pandora, Spotify, YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and of course e-mail. The future of TV and radio is through the internet, and so it is with all forms of communication, including the telephone. As the future of internet TV progresses, digital advertising will surely become more involved, and cable TV will slowly fade into the background. So as you can see, digital marketing IS marketing, the marketing of the future. Sure, you’ll still have the occasional hard copy of a newspaper, magazine, or brochure, but for the most part, marketing strategy will be internet-based and integrated. Any other marketing efforts will be secondary. Read more

Hub and Spoke Marketing: May the Force Be with You

Death star marketingHub and spoke marketing is quite simple in theory, but not so much in practice. Many marketers think of the company website as a hub, and the spokes are the possible channels through which leads may be attracted to your website such as social media, press releases, search engines, directories and advertising. The idea is to have as many different channels as possible leading to your site. Hub and spoke is an accurate depiction of this theory, but allow us to present a better one…

Presenting the Death Star Analogy
Rather than the hub and spoke theory, I prefer to think of the company website as the Death Star and all the other online channels make up the tractor beam that pulls the ships in. Not to say that your website is deadly, but it should be an effective conversion machine with attractive landing ports (pages) and enticing content. Here we’ll show you how to start catching those ships in your tractor beam.

Building Your Tractor Beam
You want your tractor beam to be as powerful as possible to attract the right leads and search engines. In order to make sure your pull is stronger than that of any other competing death stars, strategy-based content needs to be provided on multiple fronts.

  • Verbal Social Media & Blogs

Your blog should be SEO optimized and designed to pull traffic in through informative and engaging content about your industry. Many companies utilize sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to post brief content that can draw people into the website. Posting snippets from your blog, company or industry news, and information about events can motivate people to go to your site and check it out or share your information with hundreds of others, thereby increasing the reach of your tractor beam. Keep your keywords in mind when posting on social media as well.

  • Visual Social Media

Most marketers are aware that images and photographs can significantly boost conversion rate. Unlike verbal communication, visuals attract attention quickly and can draw people into your site with a one-second glance. Pull people into your tractor beam by sharing attractive and informative images on sites like Pinterest, Flickr or YouTube. By informative I mean that a consumer should be able to see what your product or service entails in your images. When it comes to a photo of your product or service, a picture really is worth 1,000 words.

  • Press & Directories

Getting an article about your company in the press, whether it’s traditional paper press or digital media, is a great way to get more traffic coming in. Start by finding a local industry blog or small publication that provides news from your industry and provide an informational piece. Or, find an industry site where you may be able to guest blog. There are also several online directories and consumer review sites where your company can be listed to pull in more traffic. Start with Google Places, Yelp, Yahoo Local, small business directories, and industry-specific directories.

  • Advertising

Good old advertising. PPC campaigns and Google Adwords may not be free like organic search. (Well, hopefully you do pay your content writers.) But, these ads are guaranteed to get people to your website and directly to one of your landing pages. Ads should never lead to your homepage. People who click on your ads already have a product or service in mind and should be directed to an informative landing page where they may be easily converted to a customer without much fuss. Make sure your landing page headline matches your ad campaign, or you may not end up with the droids you’re looking for.

Hub and Spoke, or the new and improved Death Star Theory, is a simple concept but it does require time and strategy. If you need help building your tractor beam, or you aren’t finding the droids you’re looking for, give us a call. We’ve got tractor beam engineers at the ready.

What Is All the Yelp About?

Yelp button - redOn June 14, 2012, Yelp announced that it would be powering the Bing local search engine results. As you can see in the image below, Yelp reviews, pictures and sometimes additional information provided by Yelp will appear on the right hand side of the search results page when a user makes relevant searches using Bing.

According to a Yelp news release, “Yelp will surface content including, review snippets, photos, business attributes, and more, to Bing users in the U.S. This content will be featured prominently on relevant Bing Local pages, presenting information to help consumers do more with businesses near them.”

Vespaio Bing Search Results - Local powered by Yelp

During the same week, Yelp also announced it had joined forces with Apple. Yelp will now provide information for Apple’s new maps application as well as providing more content to Siri. The announcement was a giant step forward for both Yelp and the businesses that have already taken advantage of the Yelp platform.

If your business is not currently listed on Yelp, considering the following:

  • Yelp had an average of approximately 71 million monthly unique visitors in Q1 2012
  • 6.3 million unique visitors used a Yelp mobile app
  • Every second a consumer looks up or calls a business from a Yelp mobile app (Q42011)
  • A photo was uploaded every 30 seconds from a Yelp mobile app
  • Yelpers have written over 27 million local reviews.
  • Over 40% of all Yelp searches come from their mobile apps. (Q4, 2011)

It only takes a few, simple steps to have your business up and running on Yelp so you can take advantage of all the new exposure Yelp is receiving.

  1. Claim Your Listing – Business owners can list their businesses on Yelp for free! Setting up an account allows you to respond to customer reviews, message your customers, view business trends and create special Yelp deals. Click Here to get started.
  2. Add Information – Add a detailed business description, up-to-date information, business history and specialties. All this information will show when I user visits your Yelp page and some of the information will be used in the new Bing local searches.
  3. Add Photos – Upload some photos of your business as well as photos of the product or services your offer. A recent Yelp study found “People searching Yelp for great local businesses spend 2 and a half times as much time on a business page with photos as opposed to one without”. You can’t take advantage of having photos show in the Bing local searches for free if you don’t upload them!
  4. Accumulate Reviews – Encourage your customers to provide feedback on Yelp about their experiences with your business. As you accumulate positive reviews it will raise your Yelp “Score” and will help to push any negative reviews lower. Yelp provides some helpful advice on responding to reviews.
  5. Advertise on Yelp – Yelp Ads offers targeted advertising to increase your exposure on relevant searches and nearby business pages. Yelp Ads, similar to other search engines, are placed at the top of search results pages, so that users searching in your area will see your business above Yelp’s natural search results. Advertising on Yelp will also remove competitor ads from your Yelp business page, allowing you to keep the purchasing focus on your business!

People love us on Yelp

Yelp has become a trusted resource for information and reviews amongst consumers. It is one of the dominant alternates to the old “Yellow Pages” directories that are quickly become antiques.  As the use of mobile devices and local searches grow, so will Yelp. Take steps now to ensure your business is taking full advantage. Share your Yelp stories below; I’m eager to hear how it has affected your business!

Be more Real Time

Social Networks is part of the program at SXSW Interactive, and during one session “Marketing’s Shift from Waterfall to Agile”, leaders of Beckon, Dell, Disney, Mindjet, and PepsiCo shared some of their rationale behind the need for marketers to adopt and incorporate Agile methods and be more real time in decision making. This shift is mainly due to the need for marketers to demonstrate ROI in a shorter period of time.

The concept of Agile came from software developers in 2001 with the publishing of The Agile Manifesto. Agile methods include adaptive planning, continuous development and delivery, with time-sensitive iterations focused on rapid and flexible responses to change through collaboration of self-organizing, cross functional teams.

So as software developers have been implementing these methods for over 10 years, marketers are now seeing the need to adopt them within their organizations to demonstrate their value to the bottom line.

The panelists discussed the need to accelerate the process of taking a concept to market. Traditional processes are now being considered barriers and friction points as we now utilize technological advancements with real time data, monitoring, analysis, and marketing. The old way of doing things and “staying the course” is irrelevant in the space.

As one of the panelists stated, “We live in real time. We should be responsive in real time”.

However, the shift is easier said than done. What is required for a shift to occur within advertising and marketing departments is adopting an Adaptive Process, which allows for more flexibility to quickly respond to changes in the market. And the adoption must be adhered to and integrated among all channels including offline as well as online, which can be challenging due to internal “turf wars”.

Integrated content distribution across all channels is a must to enhance user experience and connecting with them at the right place and time. After all, during key times in peoples’ lives is when they need connections for a product or service. And if you are not clearly visible when that time comes, you are missing out on opportunities to engage your audience and earn revenues for your business. “Compelling content is going to rule the day. Our brand is being owned by our customers, and it is our job to provide them with content that is educational and entertaining with a purpose” said a panelist.

Another challenge is really getting down to the nitty-gritty of what is driving the conversion path with all the various points of connection – from TV to radio to billboards to print to display to email to paid search to organic search to mobile to social. Values for each point of engagement must be discussed and assigned to directly attribute credit where it is due when revenues are earned. Further demonstration of this challenge was apparent among the panelists when 2 of 4 stated they still do not know the value of a “fan”, “follower”, or “like” or how to attribute revenues in social media for their organizations. The other 2 said they knew, but would not share those
findings. Can you really blame them for that?

But all were in agreement that “Last Click Attribution Modeling” is not the way to go, and the need for a collaborative effort in an Agile teamed-environment is necessary to identify the right KPIs and metrics to truly demonstrate ROI across all advertising and marketing efforts.

Change is happening in real time. Making decisions need to happen in real time too.

How to Leverage Pinterest for Your Brand or Company

 

 

 

Pin It

The new buzz going around the Internet world is Pinterest, a virtual cork board where you can save and share the things that interest you most. Find a recipe online you have to try?  Pin It. Find your favorite quote online? Pin It. From recipes to home décor to travel and creative ideas, Pinterest is the website to store it all.

What is Pinterest?

When you come across something you love while browsing the Internet, you no longer have to worry about bookmarking the page, emailing the link to yourself, or printing out a copy and saving it for a later date. With Pinterest, you can simply compile all of your great findings in one location online, available for you and whoever is following your pins to view at anytime. It’s made bookmarking into a social experience, more in line with how we use the Internet in 2012.  In addition to the followers viewing your pins, you can also view the pins of the people you are following and repin what your followers are posting. Pinterest provides the option to search for ideas or items that spark an interest. Browse through a live feed of items that are being pinned by strangers and repin them to the boards you have created.

How to Get Started? 

First things first, visit the Pinterest website to request an invite to create an account. Or if you know someone who currently has a Pinterest account, ask them to send you an invite, as this may be the quickest way to get an account started. Go ahead, ask me for an invite if you need one. Once you receive your invite, create your new Pinterest account using your current Facebook or Twitter account or by simply signing up. Now that you have your account set up, add the Pin It button found in the About section located in the top navigation bar to your bookmarks bar. This will allow you to pin anything from any page you visit online. Create your boards and start pinning.

How Can Pinterest be Used for SEO?

There are a few benefits that Pinterest can offer your SEO campaign.  Use Pinterest as part of your linkbuilding strategy. Links from Pinterest are “followed,” which means they pass particularly strong value. Once you create a new pin, your feed is instant and readily available for your followers to see. Pinterest allows you to create a pin that will provide a hyperlinked image, description, and link to your website on two pages of the Pinterest website. One page being the actual pin page and the second page being the board created for the pins. Make your pins interesting to your followers. You want your followers to repin what you have posted for your campaign, creating a viral SEO campaign through Pinterest.

Analyzing Your Pinterest Results

Now that you know what Pinterest is and how to use it, let’s take a look at the results we have seen so far for our clients. On top of the great ease of use, viral potential, and demographic targeting possible with Pinterest, another great facet of the hot social media site is how measureable it is. If you follow our Pinterest best practices, you should begin to see Pinterest.com pop up in your referral traffic reports in Google Analytics. Within this referral traffic report you can see the exact engagement metrics for traffic gained from Pinterest.com, and thus far, we have found that Pinterest traffic metrics can vary widely. However, the constant across Pinterest referral metrics is a high percentage of new visits. Additionally, we are seeing month-to-month increases in traffic from Pinterest. This is an indication that the adoption rate of this new social media platform could be increasing rapidly.

Also, if you dive deeper into Analytics you can break down the data even further. For instance, you can see which specific pin led to the most referral traffic, which page this pin was linked to, the specific engagement metrics garnered from traffic through that pin, conversions from that pin, and more. In fact, most all of the power of Analytics is applicable to Pinterest referral traffic since all pins have their own unique URL. By monitoring which pins drive the most traffic, what type of content is most successful on Pinterest, and other key metrics, you can begin to form strategies around how to improve success on Pinterest.

In Conclusion

Incorporating Pinterest into your social media and SEO strategy moving forward will only become more important as Pinterest gains users and market penetration. Pinterest has already become a household term and making sure your site is well optimized for this social media platform could lead to large impacts on your referral traffic, your conversions, and more. Happy pinning!

Google+: What Does This Mean for SEO and Search Results?

Initial discoveries.

In a recent blog post, Robyn Schelenz wrote an article about “Search Plus Your World” and how search is becoming more social. Naturally, as online marketers, we’re interested to see how integrating Google+ profiles and pages will impact search results.

In the coming months, we will be testing different tactics to see how exactly our page and client pages will show up in search results and see what factors will make direct impacts. AJ Kohn from “Blind Five Year Old” does an amazing job of outlining SEO techniques for Google+ that I can’t wait to try out. I will report my findings to either arrive at the same conclusion as AJ or perhaps dispute some of them. (Look for updates in the future or add us on Facebook and Google+ to receive notifications.) In the meantime, we will discuss our initial findings on search results with Google+.

For this exercise, we searched the word “Fashion” to discover our initial findings about Google+ and SEO.

Search Results when NOT logged in
As a logged out user, obviously, no personal results will appear. However, it looks like Google will encourage users to participate in Google+. On the right side of search results, Google will show you “People and Pages on Google+” relevant to your search query.

Click to view larger.

However, the results will differ each time you search for the same search query but only by a few pages and people. I refreshed a few times and these profiles/pages were listed most often and were the ones I analyzed:

• Coco Rocha
• Burberry
• Sarah Potempa
• H & M
• Vogue

The question is then, how can your Google+ profile/page appear in search results for specific search queries? Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to conclude what influenced the results in that space, but here are three points that I’ve drawn.

• Interestingly enough, none of the actual websites were delivered on the first page of search results. Of course, this won’t always be the case for every search query.

• The more Google+ users that have your brand/company in their circles = more visibility.

It looks like all of these Google+ profiles/pages have a remarkable number of people who have added them to their circles. Each profile has at least 70,000 followers. As with any social network, it looks like if you have strong two-way interaction with your followers, you will be granted more visibility and it could influence whether your profile/page shows up in search results.

• Having the keyword throughout your profile won’t necessary result in your profile/page showing up in search results.

Every profile/page, with the exception of Burberry, had the keyword “fashion” listed either in the brief description, about page, and/or posts. However, each profile had the keyword “fashion” listed no more than 5 times. So, sorry folks, keyword stuffing won’t work.

Also, it seems like for specific search queries, these Google+ pages won’t even show up in search results. This was the case for Coco Rocha, Vogue, and Sarah Potempa.

The opportunity lies in having your Google+ page/profile appearing in search results for highly competitive, broad keywords even while your website does not. Hopefully, one day, we will figure out how to fully optimize Google+ pages/profiles to make this happen.
*P.S. Google’s video on “Learn how you could appear here too” won’t help.)

Search Results WHILE logged in (As a Google+ User):
As previously stated in Search Plus Your World, when logged in, you can now view personal results mixed in with other results, and it looks like Google will prioritize your personal results first.

Click to view larger.

Another interesting observation is that Google seems to index your information quicker for personalized results. As a test, I shared a blog with the caption “Has to be one of my favorite fashion blogs out there,” and within seconds, it already appeared in my search results.

Click to view larger.

How about someone who has me in their circles? I asked a friend to check her search results for the keyword “fashion,” and again, within minutes, my post showed up in her search results. We will try to determine exactly how many minutes it takes or if it’s instantaneous in a future post.

The take away from this tiny experiment is to write compelling content, and then, share that content. This shouldn’t come as a surprise but to write about something that other people care about takes time and effort. This is how you build an audience though. (Also, share videos and photos!)

As of right now, it looks like text match determines what shows up in personalized results. Meaning, if you are a designer and want to show up for the keyword “fashion” in your Google+ users’ personalized results, then, include the word “fashion” in your entry.

Also, Google+ is about discovering related pages and people. Again, Google will suggest Google+ pages and profiles for you.

Sure enough, the same profiles appeared:

Click to view larger.

As the Leverage SEO team dives deeper into exactly how Google+ will impact search results, one thing is for certain: Get a Google+ page or profile. Because the fact is, Google+ is one of the fastest growing social networks and has already reached 90 million users. Take this opportunity to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry and to get personal with your current and potential clients. As search becomes more social, you will want to make sure you’re part of the conversation.

Look out for future posts on Google+, and leave any questions you may have in our comments section below.

Google Gets Personal with “Search Plus Your World”

Welcome to Google 2012!  As of this week, Google has begun rolling out their new personalized search for users logged in through Google.com.  The change to Google’s search results is called “Search Plus Your World” and it could have a great impact on your search results.  But is it as big a deal as some in the SEO space are touting?

 

Search Plus Your World presents a mixture of personalized, even private, results with the more generic results you would otherwise associate with Google.  Where you are used to seeing “about X number of results (X number of seconds)” below the search box, you will now see “X number of personal results and X number of other results (X number of seconds).”  You might also see personal information mixed in with the actual result listings.  For example, if I searched for “Fido” while logged into my Gmail account, I might see the normal list of sites along with images of not just any dog named Fido but of my dog Fido, or my friend’s dog with Fido, etc.  If you haven’t been using Google+ much, you probably won’t see a significant change—your Google Instant suggestions may be more personally oriented, but otherwise, your queries are not going to be affected.

 

For those that do have a high degree of integration with Google+ and other Google products, like the photo service Picasa, the change will be more noticeable.  You will see private pictures that you may not have shared with the world now pop up in search results.  Never fear—they weren’t suddenly shared and they’re not accessible when you’re not logged in.  If you find the personalization an unwelcome change, you can toggle between personalized and non-personalized results by using the new human / globe buttons visible in the right-hand corner of the page.

 

Twitter’s lawyer, Alex Macgillivray, is particularly irritated with this new development in Search, as Twitter results are excluded from the new personal / private results (Source: BBC). Some speculate that Google was hoping for a reaction like this and that “Search Plus Your World” is in part meant to induce Twitter and Facebook to share data with Google.  Possibly, but we are not quite there yet.

 

At the moment, this should have little effect on current SEO campaigns.  The update makes Search more social, but since it only does so through the still growing Google+, its impact is limited.  Plus, few queries are likely to have a big inbuilt social footprint.  If I am selling anything related to cats, the most popular animal on the Internet, then, perhaps I am wondering how this will affect my business.  Even in this case, the personalization thus far seems restricted to very specific keywords, like the name of a particular cat.  As another example, my own search for “Christmas” showed me a number of possible personal results below the search box that I could click on (as my social circle had been discussing Christmas), but did not appear to affect the ordering of the actual SERPs at all.

 

The moral of the story is a variation on the old cliché, “the more things change, the more things stay the same.”  This update will probably affect internet marketing more distinctly in the future but it certainly doesn’t change the importance of internet marketing.  If Google is now integrating the use of Google Plus and Picasa into its search and if Bing is currently integrating Facebook (and they are), then getting all your bases covered socially and otherwise is even more important.  It’s a direction that should reward SEO tactics and websites that look to please users and search engines—a user friendly site is more likely to be shared.  This new update ensures that SEO will be an interesting and invaluable marketing channel in the new year.

Tweets for Tat

The first thing small business owners do when they find out that I work for an online marketing agency is ask for help. Many small business owners are at a loss as to how to effectively leverage online tools in their marketing mix. The truth is there is a litany of information out there on these topics but most either don’t know where to find it or the text is very cumbersome, often for no reason. For example, I recently read an article with 15 points on effective tweets. That’s 1,000 words to describe how best to write 140 characters. Well, these tips can be surmised in 3 easy points: content, engagement, and aggregation.

In the land of tweets, blogs, and 24-hour news coverage, content is king. This means write good, thoughtful tweets that have some relevancy to those individuals following you. I have run into several small business owners who don’t understand why they cannot increase their social media presence when they are creating content everyday on their wonderful product lines.

Content leads us to the crux of the matter, which is engagement. You have to be actively engaged in what your audience is saying. Consider GM… recently the automotive conglomerate was plagued with protests from angry consumers regarding advertising dollars that were spent with a radio show that some considered to be offensive. This could have been a PR nightmare for GM—a company doing everything it can to support sustainability and American values. For every tweet GM received regarding this matter, they issued a personal apology and assured customers that the affiliate was instructed to cancel any further ad orders.

Finally, make it easy on your audience to find out more about you and your expertise. Twitter requires the creation and sharing of a great deal of content on a weekly basis. You can improve user experience and SEO value by linking appropriate tweets to articles or blogs on your site. Consider a large lumber yard that frequently tweets about DIY projects and HGTV television shows. It would be beneficial to link some of those tweets to appropriate web pages so audience members know where to get material for such projects. Writing 140 characters can seem like a daunting task. The truth is if you follow some basic guidelines and encourage your audience and customers to follow you, great success on Twitter will follow.

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